One of the most surprising wins at the Daytime Emmys was One Life to Live's nod for Outstanding Direction. It is ironic that the show's brilliant final months on ABC were overlooked, while the short-lived, low budget internet version of the show was recognized.
The very first episode of the show, featuring the opening of a nightclub and a controversial reference to oral sex, won the statuette for OLTL. Jill Mitwell, who also directed the ABC version of OLTL, pointed out the episode had many difficult to film elements, including fight scenes and a fantasy sequence.
The team also felt voters recognized they faced unusual challenges. They had to figure out how to film in a new, smaller studio, where everything had to be built from scratch, in order to transform a long-running television show into an online series.
Gary Donatelli, also a longtime OLTL director, admitted they were figuring it out on the fly, learning from the Internet's reaction that not all of their viewers liked the show's spicier online language. Mitwell observed the show had just hit its stride when it was canceled.
Habib Azar pointed out though the online version of OLTL lasted just 40 episodes, the complete run is still available online, unlike the thousands of ABC episodes.
For a lot of fans, the fact that both the ABC run and the online version ended with cliffhangers is a source of frustration. The directors see it differently. Said Donatelli, "I would love to have three lives to live."
Azar added, "I actually don't wish that we had a proper ending. We chose a cliffhanger because we thought that there was still a chance. I was actually there when they were like, 'Well, let's do that scene again this time,' and that's because there was a firm belief that we could still make it work."
While a lot of viewers think Prospect Park put more effort into a variety of lawsuits than in producing All My Children and One Life to Live, Azar defended the production company. "It is a testament to Prospect Park that they fought until the very end. They wanted it to work."