Remember the media blitz ABC Daytime Chief Brian Frons went on after finally admitting he was cancelling All My Children and One Life to Live? Now, if you only read the soap press, you likely missed it, because ABC Daytime's PR machine reportedly told Soap Opera Digest, Soap Opera Weekly and Soaps in Depth that Frons was too busy to talk to the magazines that have supported this genre for decades, in order to help explain to their readerships his decisions. However, if you happen to visit Entertainment Weekly, Deadline or various other entertainment industry outlets for your soap scoop, you no doubt caught some of Frons' explanations/sales pitches.
While the exaggerations, posturings and flat out lies in the pieces were too numerous to list, I wanna focus on what Frons said to these outlets specifically regarding the one soap ABC said they planned to keep, General Hospital.
Here's what EW.com reported on April 14 in terms of how soap fans should be consoled by GH's safety:
Soap fans should take some comfort in knowing that General Hospital will not be affected by the changes and, in fact, should remain on ABC for a “long, long time,” Frons said. It’s too early to say, however, whether the Los Angeles-based sudser will absorb some of the actors from AMC or OLTL.
Okay, now I guess Frons could play semantics and claim to him Sept. 2012 is a "long, long time", but something tells me daytime's new queenJudge Judy might ask him to stop pissing on her leg and telling her it's coming down like cats and soap operas out there.
The same day Frons' EW piece was published, he spoke to Deadline, where he not only claimed a Katie Couric talk show wasn't in the cards for ABC Daytime, but also said GH was safe "for the time being". Here's what else he said about the sudser:
"We feel very positive about its place on the schedule."
To The Wrap Frons added this:
I think the soap operas that are strong, "The Young and the Restless" on CBS and "General Hospital" on ABC, still have a good place in the hearts.
As much as I would love to blame Frons for his penchant for basically lying every single time he opens his trap. A lot of the blame has to go to his Vice-President for Public Relations and Vapidity Jori Petersen. This is a person, who reportedly doesn't even watch soaps and loves to utilize "whisper campaigns" to spread misinformation throughout the soap press, complete with the now trademark phrase "You didn't hear it from me".
It isn't at all surprising Petersen wouldn't know how to properly media counsel an executive attempting to make a series of game-changing moves that would send ripple effects throughout a television genre. This is after all also the exec, who on April 15, with her supervisor's decision to cancel two TV icons making international news, had the time in—what should have been an insanely busy work day—to call me up and gripe about us publishing a video of Frons explaining to Disney employees his reasoning for killing the soaps. Seriously, that was your focus?
Petersen and her team allowed Susan Lucci, an American pop culture treasure, to go out on the road promoting her book and be made to look like a fool over and over again, denying the "rumors" of AMC's demise, yet they were worried about soap fans watching a video on my blog?
I'm not naive. I realize the decision to gut the soaps comes from above Petersen and Frons' heads, but my God the communication of the strategy could not have been tasked to two more ghastly ineffective professionals. Why should the press, not to mention the millions of viewers who currently support ABC Daytime, ever believe a word these people utter again?