If the fate of ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ was
a soap opera – I would guess that the back from the dead story wasn’t going
Earlier this week, Prospect Park sued ABC for $25 million
over their licensing agreement with the network over the cancelled soaps.
For those that need a quick recap, Prospect Park licensed
the rights to the two soaps when ABC announced their cancellation almost two
years back. At first, Prospect Park was trying to get another network to pick
up the shows.
When that failed, the production company also failed to
secure the financing they needed to bring the soaps to the air – and the
project was considered dead in the water.
When that happened, ABC brought several OLTL actors on board
– as their Llanview counterparts – to offer something to heartbroken fans.
Then, several months ago, Prospect Park announced they were
bringing the shows back online – and
for streaming on Hulu.
Suddenly, things started to get interesting between the two
sides. Prospect Park wanted the three characters – who had been on ‘General
Hospital’ for the past year – back and they wanted the original actors to move
The problem with this was that none of the actors wanted to
return to OLTL. I know fans have conspiracy theories about why this is, but the
truth is, you get more exposure on a network, all three actors had moved to Los
Angeles (including their families) and they didn’t want to move back to the
East Coast, and they got more money on GH.
The two sides tried to hammer out a deal. Essentially, Roger
Howarth agreed to do double duty on the two shows – a move that would allow his
character Todd Manning to move between both locales. Michael Easton and Kristen
Alderson, though, were adamant they did not want to return to OLTL.
Talks between the sides broke down – and all three
characters were forced out of Port Charles. A few weeks ago, ABC announced that
the three actors would be returning to GH as new characters. This allowed OLTL
to have their characters back – but not the actors that made them popular.
Whew, I know, it’s a lot.
Prospect Park is arguing that they only lent the characters
to ABC on a limited basis – and with the stipulation that they have input into
storylines. They claim that ABC ignored that part of the agreement for a year –
and they’re specifically balking at GH killing off Cole and Hope.
Here’s the thing, I obviously haven’t seen the contract
between the two sides – so I can’t get into any specifics. If ABC agreed to let
Prospect Park have control over the OLTL characters and then didn’t do it –
then they are in breach of contract.
However, if that wasn’t in writing, then I don’t really
think Prospect Park has a leg to stand on.
The argument that Cole and Hope were killed off is kind of a
lame one. This is a soap people, bringing characters back from the dead is what
they do. Also, that happened at the very beginning of the characters’ run. Why
is Prospect Park just complaining now? This happened a year ago.
My take – and this is just my take – is that Prospect Park
is setting itself up to be the victim when they fail with the online versions
that are set to debut on April 29.
The new format of the shows are vastly different from what
soap fans are used to (and there is very little buzz associated with the launch). Not only are the number of episodes limited, but so are
the casts. For example, AMC has Zach, but no Kendall. OLTL has Viki and
Natalie, but no Jessica.
When you compound that with the fact that a lot of the
characters have been recast with cheaper and younger “talent” – and I think you’re
looking at alienating a lot of longtime fans.
I think a lot of older soap fans – and that is the bulk of
the soap opera audience – aren’t going to take the time to tune in to soaps
online. Maybe, if OLTL had just went off the air, things might be different.
The simple fact of the matter is, though, that people have
lived without OLTL and AMC for more than a year. They’ve learned they can live
without the soaps – and it’s not part of their everyday viewing experience
I do think some people will tune in online – maybe even a
solid number for the debut – but I expect the numbers to be fairly dismal after
Prospect Park paid a lot of money for the licensing rights
to AMC and OLTL. They do not own those
shows now, though. They’re essentially
borrowing them. This lawsuit could essentially be a way to drum up interest in the online soaps, too. You know, any publicity is good publicity and all that?
ABC does not have to extend a leasing agreement with
Prospect Park – and it seems Prospect Park is shooting itself in the foot by
filing this lawsuit. To me, that signifies they are acknowledging that the
online versions probably are going to be a failure.
As someone with the time – and means – to watch both AMC and
OLTL online, I actually have no interest in tuning into either. For background,
I’ve watched both soaps since I was a kid – and I was especially attached to
Still, though, I said my goodbyes to both soaps.
Prospect Park has an uphill battle – and it’s one I’m pretty
sure they’ll lose. If they have concrete evidence of ABC actively trying to
make sure they fail – which doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me on a
monetary front – then why didn’t they make it public before?
I will watch the ongoing legal battle unfold with a great
deal of interest – and not just because I watch a lot of court cases in real
What fans don’t seem to understand is that this lawsuit
could be years and years down the road. By the time it’s settled, Prospect Park’s
licensing agreement with ABC will probably be over and both online soaps will
Heck, at the rate things are going, GH could be gone, too,
by that point.
I know fans of OLTL and AMC are siding with Prospect Park –
but I honestly can’t see how Prospect Park expects to win this court battle.
I guess we’ll just all have to wait and see.
As it stands, AMC and OLTL return to the Internet on April
29 and Easton, Howarth and Alderson return to GH as new characters (rumors
suggest a Morley descendant, a Cassidine and a Serena Baldwin recast
respectively) in May.
And they said soap operas were dying.
What do you think? Who is in the wrong and who is in the
right in the ABC and Prospect Park battle?