Shortly after my show All’s Faire came out, I was approached by a gentleman who asked Dinosaur Diorama and I to make The Guidling Light as a webseries. To be clear, he was only a fan of the show, not a producer of any sort. He had seen our show, which starred both Robert Bogue and Mandy Bruno of that show, and likely knew about our casting of other soap stars (Kelli Giddish back when she was on All My Children, Tom Pelphrey) in the past.
I thought long and hard about this. Not because I particularly like soap operas or have any creative interest in The Guiding Light. But I was fascinated by the idea of turning an existing soap property into an online property. I went out and bought Dark Shadows and watched it to see. Could something like this be turned into a webshow? Creatively? Legally?
After doing the math, I couldn’t make it work. The most I would be able to produce might be a short scene per day. Ultimately, I realized that the people who watch soaps wouldn’t be satisfied with that. They watched soaps because they were hooked on the stories, but also to occupy time when they were at home or at work. Soap watchers are a mix of very active fans (buying magazines, talking on forums, following the actors) and very passive fans (turning it on and watching it with half your mind while you do something else).
That said, I loved the idea of the online soap. I loved the idea of event television online. I loved bringing a show to an under-served online audience. I loved the the discipline involved in crafting a daily storyline (even if it does sometimes revolve around amnesia and/or demonic possession). I loved the absolutely seamless and meaningful integration of products into a storyline (they’re not called SOAP operas for nothing, folks). I thought long and hard about getting involved.
But I didn’t. Time went on and other projects swiftly took its place. And then today, I saw this:
“Beloved Soaps to migrate online. All My Children and One Life To Live being bought by production company Prospect Park (they make “Royal Pains” among other things).”
And I’m fascinated. This is a proven company. Buying a proven (if a bit faded and temporarily suffering) property. And aiming to produce for a thoroughly unproven medium. This is big. Very big.
Now that people all over the country have high-speed broadband, and people of all ages are much more used to watching video online, how will these soaps do? But the bigger question to me is, what will they look like? Will they be an hour long? Will they be a scene long? Will they be union shows (it looks like yes, the same cast and crew at least will be involved)? Will they be daily? Will they in any way resemble the shows that so many people knew and loved?
Further, they are “expected to be the first of a number of brand-name TV shows” to be programmed on a “new, as-yet-unnamed, TV-focused network”. Big. Very very big!
As some of you know, I have something sort of similar (but also completely different) in the works. But if Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz can take this first massive step and make it work – and I have every reason to believe they can – then I want to be the first to welcome them to the sandbox.
Or should I say soapbox (and buh-dum-CHING and cut to commercial).
P.S. Kudos to Roger Newcomb over at We Love Soaps. This must be a big day for him