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News for the week of 05-Aug-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

As Prospect Park’s The OnLine Network (TOLN) wraps up AMC and OLTL’s first season September 2 and August 19, respectively, plans for the next season are already in place. Fans will soon be able to view the next season’s shows on a new, user-friendly web portal and app — available at the touch of your fingertips. The network’s new digital destination features enhanced video content, cast and character pages, dedicated series pages, a photo gallery with social shopping functionality, social media links, and a lot more. Best of all, fans can access full-length shows, exclusive interviews, behind-the-scene footage, and clips on their cell phones via a complimentary mobile app for IOS and Android.

Based on a recent settlement, Prospect Park must now retroactively pay the labor union backing the crew a lot more in production costs, according to a July 29th report by The Wrap’s Brett Lang. It’s called sharing residuals, and Prospect Park must do this because of under-estimates. Negotiations between the producer of AMC/OLTL and the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local 52 reached critical mass this past June over charges of contract violations, resulting in a premature hiatus to figure this situation out. At the onset of production, both sides agreed to financial terms based on a budget way below $125,000 an episode. When costs rode above that amount for some shows, the union cried foul. The settlement enables the crew to have a stake in future income, an insider informed The Wrap reporter. Try a five-percent stake “in ancillary profits related to streaming deals, broadcast pacts and other revenue streams, and a slightly smaller percentage of DVD revenue.”

Slate’s Willa Paskin tried to figure today’s struggling, surviving soaps in a July 29th exposť. She picked the brains of actors Cady McClain (Dixie) and Thorsten Kaye (Zach), as well as OLTL head writer Thom Racina, and AMC executive producer Ginger Smith, in hopes of getting some impassioned arguments in favor of saving this much-maligned piece of Americana. Instead, she got a lot more food for thought about the basics of a new kind of soap start-up, working with a fast-paced, no-nonsense process primetime would find daunting, and the nuts and bolts of continuing daytime drama under a biased budget.

Kaye gave Paskin a daunting but honest comparison of expectation, favoring primetime. It’s unfair, but real. He was on a new and short-lived NBC musical drama, Smash, last season. There, he learned that penny for penny, primetime isn’t expected to draw in as much of a crowd as daytime. “I was on a show last season that cost between $6 [million] and $9 million an episode, and they had about a million people watching. A show like this [AMC] cost the network about $45,000 an episode, and they had over 2 million people watching. This wasn’t broken when these guys [with Prospect Park] got it.”

For much of the rest of the savvy article, Paskin observed that soaps — like any other TV show, primetime or otherwise — are run in an extremely orderly fashion, with tight production schedules and budgets (OLTL’s Shelter nightclub doubles as a production office), and business-like approaches.

After all that, she came up with this wonderful commentary, on her own: “Daytime soap operas may be a punch line, but they are the ancestors of modern television, and not just the schlocky stuff. From the ’60s through the early ’90s, soap operas were doing things that other shows would and could not: regularly exploring controversial issues from abortion—AMC aired TV’s first legal abortion in 1973—to homosexuality, showcasing women’s narratives, not saving any plot for later, and demanding their audience have an encyclopedic grasp of past events that would shame the most devoted Lost-head.”

As of August 5, AMC will air new shows on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN at 1 p.m. EST/12 p.m. CST, with new OLTL shows coming on right after at 1:30 p.m. EST/12:30 p.m. CST. Previously, OLTL aired at 3 p.m.

Gossip for the week of 05-Aug-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

People are worried that all the changes lately mean or could result in the end of AMC and OLTL, scrambling to keep up with imagined failures. A lack of expected episodes in the can, over 100, signals the dreaded demise.

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