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News for the week of 10-Jun-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Prospect Park execs had to put AMC and OLTL on immediate hiatus last Thursday due to a labor dispute with the crews’ union, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees - Local 52. Initially, execs eyed June 17th for the beginning of the hiatus. The dispute came about because filming the soaps cost more than was allotted, and that went against the labor agreement, according to The Wrap. The agreement stipulated that PP could pay union members less than the standard day rate provided the cost of each show didn’t go over $125,000. Whoops! The union alleged PP overspent on AMC production by more than double on some shows, but Prospect Park disagreed. “We believe we have met all contract requirements with I.A.T.S.E, and as an internet start-up, and per our contract with the I.A., we cannot afford, and our business model cannot sustain, traditional broadcast rates,” according to a statement from PP. Furthermore, execs would like to wrap this up by August when production re-commences. PP already has 40 episodes in its library, enough to air through September if need be. In comparison, AMC cost ABC Daytime $50 million a year to put on the air.

On- and offline soap media participated in a joint interview with Jill Larson (Opal) and the soap newcomer playing her on-screen son Pete, Robert Scott Wilson, as transcribed and posted May 30 on We Love Soaps by Walker Ragsdale. This interview came on the heels of the Prospect Park decision to reduce the number of episodes per week from four to two, to help make it easier for casual viewers to catch up. Both actors tried to spin the possible reasons and consequences into positives. Larson said this decision would allow the soaps to really focus on the meat of the stories, as opposed to churning them out like some assembly line. In answer to the question posed by Soap Opera Network’s Kambra Clifford, Larson explained, “So we are being judged and compared with nighttime shows that air, you know, 10 or 22 episodes in a year, they don't air 176. So I think that we are — we really realize that we want to raise the bar and show up with the very, very highest quality of product we can. And you cannot do that at the pace that, you know, it's sort of like we were making Hershey bars but everybody else is making Touché or whatever your famous brand… So we want to go more into the hand-made French chocolates arena if we can and that requires time. A nighttime show, you know, they take eight days to produce one episode, so it's an interesting challenge and we'll see where we end up.”

Larson continued explaining when On Air On Soaps’ Michael Fairman asked about the show’s pace since going online. “… it's one of the reasons why I'm really glad that they are taking a break because I think that, you know, you can only - you can only go - you can only crank out and I use that word intentionally that much story that fast for a finite amount of time before the stories become, you know, just whatever - it's just throw anything at the way and see if it sticks. And that's what I think we're trying to avoid and so this couple of months break gives our writers the chance that they did not have before we began which was some time to really look ahead and really explore long-term story and character development and so forth because we have to remember that this is still a medium that is unlike any other in that there is time and it's great to have it move quickly.”

Wilson made sure fans understood he’s invested in a show that’s firm regardless of reduced episodes. “I wouldn't be doing this if it were going to hurt the show, you know, so obviously to keep the fans calm I don't want them to think we're going anywhere because we're not and we have a lot more stories to tell when we go back there in a couple of months, but at the same time obviously when you see that the first thing you think of is almost in a negative. But in this format we're not on broadcast television, you know, we are on an online network now. So I mean if we knew how to do this at the beginning we would of and the fans I'm sure even though it was only going to be two days a week plus a recap show, the fans would still be very thrilled to know that the show is coming back.”

Robert Scott Wilson (Pete) was delighted by Kambra Clifford’s June 5th “InSession” interview. In it, he gets to elaborate on his character’s motivation, and relationships with Celia and Opal. Wilson said he didn’t have much stretching to do opposite Jill Larson (Opal), the veteran actress who plays his mom. Their mother-son relationship is similar to the one he has with his real-life mom. And hey, it’s Jill Larson. “I’m learning so much every day. She has brought it out of me and made me feel more comfortable, just to have an iconic name in the show who just gets it. She’s great. She’s awesome.”

Paul Moon of My Big Gay Italian Wedding became a recurring reporter at Brooke’s multi-media empire, starting in the May 29th episode (translation: his next air date’s in August). Moon is also a part of a new online soap, Tainted Dreams, put on by AMC supervising producer Sonia Blangiardo. Tainted Dreams films later on in the summer.

Vincent Irizarry (David) hated losing AMC back when ABC Daytime canceled it in 2011—not just for himself, cast and crew, but for the devoted fans. He told Zap2it’s Jay Bobbin (June 3rd interview) it shouldn’t have happened. “From all appearances, it seems like it was terribly mishandled. Being there at the epicenter while it was happening, it was confounding to all of us. We were like, ‘What is going on?’ It was really disheartening to see [All My Children] come to that end, and it just seemed so unnecessary.” He credited the fans for helping bring AMC back, in an online reboot.

Vincent Irizarry (David) is currently asking fans to recommend AMC creator Agnes Nixon as this year’s Kennedy Center honoree for all she’s done for soaps. Go here for details.

Gossip for the week of 10-Jun-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Prospect Park might change the location of its studio as a result of the dispute with the labor union (for the crew). AMC/OLTL currently filmed their first online segments in Stamford, CT. –Deadine, June 5, 2013 article by Nellie Andreeva

Showbiz411’s Roger Friedman had Prospect Park and Jeff Kwatinetz dead to rights on several disturbing aspects in his June 6th commentary, in light of the latest trouble with the labor union and calling an earlier than scheduled hiatus. Besides questioning the research cited by PP execs prompting the reduction of episodes per week, Friedman laid out a damaging resume of one of the co-owners in charge of resurrecting AMC and OLTL. “A Hollywood manager with a checkered past, Kwatinetz burned a lot of bridges in the music business during tenures with Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson. He merged his company, The Firm, with Mike Ovitz and Rick Yorn’s AMG 10 years ago,” wrote Friedman. “The whole thing collapsed quickly, with Ovitz leaving the business and Yorn taking top clients like Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. Kwatinetz’s personal life also attracted attention with major drug issues– chronicled in a 2002 Vanity Fair profile– and a brief engagement to the late actress Brittany Murphy.” This is the man in charge of AMC and OLTL?! Friedman contended that PP seemed to be “stockpiling episodes” rather than simply reducing the episodes that air every week to help casual viewers keep up. He also found fault with PP’s lawsuit against network behemoth, ABC/Disney, as an unwise “adversarial approach.” In a neat little twist, Friedman wondered if maybe this was the reason for Susan Lucci (Erica) and her husband Helmut Huber’s reticence in signing on. Maybe they knew something fans didn’t. “Lucci and Huber obviously felt they weren’t on stable ground. When Kwatinetz first tried to relaunch the soaps, he couldn’t secure the All My Children star. In the press Prospect Park made it appear that Lucci was wildly demanding and unreasonable in her salary negotiations. But Lucci and Huber told me last winter that in the middle of talks, Prospect Park simply cut them off.

In the end, they may have lucked out after all. But that doesn’t help the crews and casts of both shows who bought into Prospect Park’s promises.”

Regardless, AMC’s #1 in online buzz. According to a TV Guide social power ranking of its website visitors, AMC’s ahead of some popular mainstream shows — Burn Notice, American Idol, Game Of Thrones, Revolution — and their finales.

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