As first reported by our sister site Deadline, Prospect Park, the entertainment production company that sought to keep both of the aforementioned soaps alive online but ultimately had to put a pin in that plan, is again looking to revisit Pine Valley and Llanview.
Because hopes were raised only to be dashed the first time around, Prospect Park is laboring to be more “cautious” and keep its cards close to the vest, until the cameras are all but rolling, a source familiar with the situation tells TVLine. That said, some information is emerging about this latest rescue effort. Here are some burning questions we tried to get answered.
WHERE WILL THE SOAPS SHOOT? | Again, Prospect Park is not confirming any of the latest buzz, but TVLine hears that some of the details first reported by the online magazine Soap Opera Uncensored are accurate — including that both AMC and OLTL would shoot new episodes in a Stamford, Conn. facility shared by Maury. (I used to commute into New York City from Stamford — Go, Westhill Vikings! — with AMC vet David Canary, so maybe this new scenario could lure him back in front of the camera?) At the time AMC signed off, its production was based out of Los Angeles, while OLTL had moved into its sister soap’s digs on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (which are now being used by the syndicated Millionaire game show). I’m hearing that irresistible tax incentives led Prospect Park to set up shop in Stamford, which is less than an hour from NYC.
WHAT WILL THE NEW EPISODES LOOK LIKE? | Again, Soap Opera Uncensored‘s info seems solid, that AMC and OLTL would each produce four half-hour episodes a week, plus a recap episode every Friday.
WILL A NETWORK BROADCAST THE EPISODES AFTER THEY RUN ONLINE? | Such a “dual window” scenario — in which, say, a cabler airs the new episodes at some point in time after they have streamed online — of course remains the ideal. That said, Prospect Park’s focus (and its forte) is to make the reborn serials “appeal to the plugged-in audience” that would and could consume them online ASAP (via The Online Network).
WHICH ACTORS WOULD RETURN? | At the time of Prospect Park’s original fall 2011 overture, more than a dozen OLTL actors — Erika Slezak (Viki), Kassie DePaiva (Blair), Michael Easton (John) and Melissa Archer (Natalie) included — were on board to go online, while Cameron Mathison (Ryan) and Lindsay Hartley (Cara) were among the few AMCers locked in. Who’s willing (or able to) nibble now? AMC frontwoman Susan Lucci has been contacted, Showbiz411.com reported, though she is currently committed to the 13-episode Lifetime drama Devious Maids. OLTL‘s Slezak made no mention of the new Prospect Park buzz in her just-issued Christmas letter to fans; instead, she opined, “I truly believe that ABC has realized what a terrible mistake they made in canceling both [shows].” I’m told that cast members who were not contacted before the holidays may get felt out early in the new year, though as a vet of one of the two soaps told me, “We are all waiting to get some hard facts.”
WHO WOULD BE RUNNING THE SHOWS? | Daytime Confidential reports that former AMC producer/writer Ginger Smith is being eyed as that sudser’s new showrunner and that Prospect Park likely will tap and promote an OLTL vet to helm that reboot. One Life’s most recent boss, Frank Valentini, is now running things (quite successfully) at ABC’s General Hospital, where three former Llanviewers — Easton, Roger Howarth (Todd) and Kristen Alderson (Starr) — now call Port Charles home.
HEY, SPEAKING OF GH: WILL TODD, JOHN AND/OR STARR HAVE TO LEAVE PORT CHARLES? | Here’s where things get tricky. My understanding is that Prospect Park, having made a new deal to license the soaps (after the rights reverted back to ABC this fall), owns the characters and thus has “right of first refusal.” Meaning, if they want Todd Manning back in the “new” Llanview, they get him. (Whether Roger Howarth in turn is obligated to make the move along with his character is unclear.)
IS IT TRUE THAT AMC WILL COST MORE TO RESURRECT? | Soap Opera Uncensored cited the licensing fees for each of the soaps, indicating that All My Children will cost Prospect Park $500,000/year more than OLTL — even though the latter had better ratings at the time of its demise.
SO, IS THIS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN? | Again, everyone is treading extra-carefully this time around, knowing from past experience how many ducks need to line up in a row. What’s different now, however, is that Prospect has inked deals with both the DGA and SAG-AFTRA, Deadline reports, eliminating two of three major hurdles (the third being the WGA).
Plus as AMC favorite Michael E. Knight (Tad) noted during a recent “Martin family reunion” with Michael Fairman/Soap Opera Sociliate Productions, if anyone can do it, Prospect Park can. “They realize there is a market for [AMC], and that the Internet is the way to go. These guys connect the dots,” he observed. “The flaw [a year ago] wasn’t theirs; it was the rest of the industry not being up to their vision. I wouldn’t count these guys out.”
Are you being cautiously optimistic, ABC soap fans? And if AMC and/or OLTL do get revived, who do you think are the must-have actors/characters from each?