Prospect Park to Start Production Next Month — of High Quality Soaps?

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a Connie Passalacqua Hayman

On Monday, Prospect Park officially declared that they are starting up production on the revived One Life to Live and All My Children next month, to be presented on line.  Hooray, if it goes as planned!  What kind of soaps will these shows be?  Early reports indicate some of the actors have been confirmed as signed on (Debbi Morgan, Vincent Irizarry and Jerry ver Dorn), with more expected in the next week or so.  The writers have not been announced yet.  So how do we now predict what we’re going to see on-screen?

Well, in August 2011, when PP originally got involved with OLTL and AMC,  Marlena did predict that the new shows would be quality ones, as evidenced by Prospect Park’s track record.   Marlena’s a big fan of Royal Pains, the classy soap-like drama they already produce for the USA Network. The series, focusing on the personal and professional lives of a concierge doctor and his extended family in The Hamptons, began as a summer show, became a hit, and has lasted four seasons. Have you seen it? If you have, I’m guessing you might agree with me that Prospect Park is committed to serious, high quality material.  Here’s a link to the column I wrote a year and a half ago.  Let me know what you think.

Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Debbie Morgan also confirmed on her twitter account that Darnell Williams (Jesse Hubbard, AMC) has also signed on to do the AMC reboot too! And the PP needs to make a deal with the WGA to make the deal really happen so they could hire great writers for their shows as well!

  2. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    I’m afraid I rambled on too much about this already in your last post, but I agree that I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. The fact that they have already approached, apparently, actors who I feel are important to the history of these shows is one reason. Another is, unlike their impossible seeming plan last year of “using the exact same length and format” as the tv serials, they now are trying a new 30 mins, 4 times a week approach (which seems far more feasible), is another reason.

    But what especially pleases me is that in a climate where they had no legal obligation to connect Agnes Nixon (some fans worried these would be our soaps in name only), it seems she will be involved in probably as strong a capability as she is able. Given that even on ABC we know sometimes Agnes was treated terrible (in the SOW/SOD special AMC Commemorative Magazine from last fall, she gives an interview where the usual “refuses to say anything mean in public about past collaborators” persona she has slightly breaks so that she mentions that when Pratt was writing AMC it was the first time she was actually not allowed to sit in on *any* story meetings by the end of his run, which explains a lot)–now we have a statement not just from her (http://www.agnesnixon.com/blog/?p=185) but also PP’s own statement says they have officially made a deal with Nixon to be a consultant on both shows (http://www.soapoperanetwork.com/2013/01/breaking-news-prospect-park-issues-confirms-decision-to-move-forward-with-all-my-children-and-one-life-to-live-online) This makes me think not only do we have one of the most important people there are already creatively involved, but that the fears last year that PP people were clueless about the history of these shows is unfounded. It’s too bad some of the names talked about last year are now no longer available (including Ron Carlivati writing for OLTL and Lorraine Broderick for AMC–since both are in network contracts now–RC HWriting GH and LB a breakdown writer on DAYS), but hiring a fresh writing team–with vets helping guide them, could be the kick in the pants these shows need in a new format. So, yeah–cautiously optimistic here.

    Marlena says: I agree with you 100% about vet writers guiding new writers. But I am very much on the side of using union writers, The fact that Agnes is working with TPTB at PP goes a long way to convincing me that these producers really know what they are doing! Viva Agnes, always!

  3. I was glad to hear that PP decided not to go the Fi-Core route but are dealing directly with the WGA to hire writers for the shows. I would love to see Claire Labine involved with either OLTL or AMC on possibly a consultant basis. If the shows could hire Head Writers who know the shows intimately and then 1 or 2 newbies that would be great.

    Marlena says: Our darling Claire! Wouldn’t that be a real coup for PP!

  4. Adam says:

    I’m very excited. For one thing, One Life is back. For another, they seem to be doing this right, and that starts with Nixon’s involvement. I am with Marlena on a higher regard, and need, for union writers, and about vets guiding new writers. They have to be the “Right” vets, and for me, that would mean names like Labine, Malone-I forgive him the last OLTL stint-Lemay and the like. While he’s not union…I would think somebody like Sheffer would be good. As would Broderick, who created amazing stories with Nixon and both Behr & James during her AMC days. Just some ideas. I also think that the fact they are going for veteran stars-and not minor ones, either-bodes well. I have to be optimistic. Times have changed. This has never happened before. I am very curious if this works out. If this means a “bare bones, back to basics” approach for the stories-and that means an emphasis on story and character-I am all for it. So far, PP has done nothing wrong. In fact, I was never among those holding it against them when things went south last time. But…One Life to Live is back. I never thought I would type those words. I hoped. I dreamed. I got over it and now…it is real.

  5. SZima says:

    I’m still on the fence about this whole deal. Seems to me all these promises were made by Prospect Park a year or more ago, and nothing ever came of it. I’ll believe it when I see it…but I’m not sure I’ll watch. I really hate watching shows online and do it only when absolutely necessary to catch a missed show. So I highly doubt I will go online every day to watch a 30-minute show that will probably be 50% in content as well as length.

    Marlena says: I’m not a big fan of watching shows on-line either. But I’m sure we’ll all tune in the shows when they premiere (if they do) to check them out at least. PP is probably counting on the fact that we’ll all change our minds about on-line viewing.

  6. Adam says:

    My understanding is the shows will have “limited” interruption and the “actual” run time will only be maybe 8 minutes less than what they were at the end of the full hour run. As for “content” we just don’t know, but the difference this time is that there are full deals with the unions in place, and that was the big snag last time.

  7. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    I agree, that using union writers is important. From what I’ve been told by a major former ABC daytime writer, the issue with the WGA seems like it will be resolved–again, it’s simply the fact that this is something that, for the union, will set a precedent so it makes the process even more drawn out. I hope it resolves itself, as it sounds like some potential writing teams planned (again, this is all merely gossip) are quite strong.

    Labine would be great to have at either soap. Her and her son’s stint at OLTL was largely a bust, but as Pam Long diplomatically said in her interview at Brandon’s Buzz about her brief time at the soap, I think some of that was working with an EP (in both cases Jill F Phelps) who has such a strong vision of her own, that the combination simply doesn’t work. Hopefully, and ideally, one fact about PP doing soaps is that we won’t get the network exec interference that has plagued soaps since at least the late 90s, and writers (with their EPs) will have more freedom to tell the stories they want to tell, how they want to tell. If this works out, it could prove to be something that, despite surely getting lesser salaries than network writers get, would draw out more of the creative writers who were turned off by their recent network experiences.

    Adam mentioned Michael Malone, and his 2003 (or so) second stint at OLTL, and that, to me is an example. Malone’s work, from what I’ve seen (I started watching OLTL just as his first was on its way, with the Billy Douglas storyline–a story that as a 12 year old who knew I was gay, seemed really appealing to me and kept me watching after my fave, AMC, was over), depends on an EP who trusts him and shares his vision, and also often on someone on the writing team with classic soap structure. I have not been a huge fan of Josh Griffith’s writing on his own, but when he’s co-writing with Malone, like in the best years of the 90s OLTL run, the work is much better–OLTL suffered quickly in 1996 when Griffith left and Malone was solo (the endless Irish gang stuff, etc).

    When the two returned in 2003, the show had some interesting ideas (and awful ideas–like the weird ressurection of Victor Lord and the Heart of a Lion nonsense with Mitch), but at least seemed to be trying to do new things. WIthin a year Josh Griffith left, and he said in interviews that it was because he was tired of pitching ideas and having Brian Frons turn them down. The show got worse, and soon Malone was gone as well (and we were graced with gems like the Jessica kiddie porn story from Dena Higley–ugh–one of the few times I admit I would just fast forward through full episodes of OLTL). My point is that some of these writers might be willing to try the new media knowing they would have more control.

    Foz McDermott who is in charge of both shows from a technical production point of view (he’s not the EP of either, but is responsible for helping to make them viable online–his background from what I can find out seems to have been doing a successful web spin off for NBC of their show Heroes) has tweeted that “Agnes Nixon is not just a consultant, right now she’s being a super consultant”–whatever *that* means, but I hope it means that she is mentoring and working with a mix of new writing talent and old. I get the feeling–and it’s merely a feeling–that Agnes Nixon seems really invested in trying this out, and frankly after all the entertainment, knowledge, and joy I’ve gotten from her works, I’d be willing to give anything she is involved with the benefit of the doubt. As you put so well, Viva Agnes!

    As for watching shows online–I feel the same way as others about that. I find it hard to even watch a classic AMC episode on youtube for the full 45 or so minutes. But I know my tv now can view streaming web sites (I just haven’t had a reason to set it up to do so before), and I have learned how easy it is to take downloaded files and within a minute watch them through a flash drive on my TV… And while I have zero desire to use the internet on my phone, or watch movies that way, I admit if there was a way to download the day’s episode onto my phone and then watch it during the 30 minute bus ride home from work–that’s actually an appealing option. So I’m more than open to seeing how goos the shows are, and then worrying about how to watch them.

    • Adam says:

      Great news there about how things seem to be shaping up, Eric, and total agreement about Malone’s best work being with Griffith, who, sadly, is currently employed. As to what Long said, I honestly believe the worst thing to happen to OLTL in the 90′s-after Malone’s departure-was the firing of the Labines, who had finally wrapped their arms around the show and begun to make it their own. To see Long come in, then quickly replaced by Phelps-with a little help from Lemay-and then followed up by McTavish? All in about two years time? That’s damaging in the extreme. It sounds like PP is going to be doing a smarter job. The bit from JG about Frons? Just proves that Frons is not only dimwitted but stubbornly so and cares not a whit except for leaving his own mark, be that for good or ill.

      As to Malone…what if we were to get Michael Malone and Claire Labine as co-writers? If Malone could even approach his work from 92-95, and if Labine could have even half the success she had in the last six months at OLTL, we’d be in for a treat. I’m hoping-and thinking-we will be getting a leaner, tougher, stronger OLTL, from PP. For the first time in years, daytime has some intrigue and it is positive.

Speak Your Mind