Deep Soap: More Nails In The Daytime Coffin

Julie Chen/Tori Spelling (CBS/Getty Images)

Julie Chen/Tori Spelling (CBS/Getty Images)

Two Talk  Shows May Replace Soaps

Elevate the soap terrorism threat level to orange. Both ABC and CBS are developing new daytime talk shows.   It’s unfortunate that no enterprising fan thought of the surefire way to save ‘As The World Turns‘: persuade Julie Chen that she should become a daytime soap star.  Too bad Chen’s husband, CBS President Les Moonves, is not married to Liz Hubbard.  ATWT would run forever and Lucinda would always be front burner.  The host of  ‘Big Brother‘ and ‘The Early Show‘ may appear on yet another CBS show.

The network is considering replacing ATWT, which will air its final episode in September, with a multi-host talk show offering what the Los Angeles Times described as a “Mom oriented take on topical subjects” –whatever that means — in the vein of ‘The View.’  The pilot for the as yet unnamed series will shoot in May.   Former ‘Roseanne’ and ‘Big Bang Theory’ star Sara Gilbert is attached as a co-host and producer.   CBS denied earlier reports that ‘Real Housewives of New York’ star Bethenny Frankel and former ‘Days of Our Lives’ star Lisa Rinna were also potential panelists.  Obviously, CBS executives have seen some episodes of SoapNet’s former Rinna-hosted talk show ‘Soap Talk.’   She was, in my opinion, terrible.  However, I think current ATWT star Maura West (Carly), who is talented, articulate, and a mother of five, would be a great choice.  Are you listening CBS?  Throw your soap fans a bone. This talk show seems like a much better idea then the umpteenth version of ‘Pyramid.’  If ATWT has to go, I’m glad that CBS is at least considering creating something fresh.  It’s too bad that the series under consideration don’t include a new, ultra-low budget soap opera.

ABC’s announcement that it is developing a talk show for Tori Spelling is far more worrisome.  First of all, according to the Los Angeles Times, Spelling will co-host with a man who “would basically serve as Spelling’s best friend forever. The network is looking for a ‘Will & Grace‘ vibe between Spelling and her as-yet-undiscovered BFF.”   While I’m sure Jim J. Bullock and a dozen former ‘Project Runway’ contestants are putting together reels right now, does anyone really want to see this?  Most ABC stations already air ‘Live With Regis and Kelly,’ which is the gold standard for this sort of show.

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More alarmingly, it is unclear when the show would air.   It is possible that the network views the show as a possible replacement for the departing syndicated ‘Oprah Winfrey Show.’   Disney has a syndicated division that could sell Tori & Her Gay Sidekick to ABC affiliates.   But, as the Times points out, if ABC wants this to be a network show, many affiliates will not be interested in giving an hour back to the network. Local affiliates make a lot of money on syndicated shows and local news, since most of the advertising money goes directly to them.  That means, if ABC is determined to have Tori as part of its daytime line-up, the show is likely to be a replacement for a soap. ‘One Life To Live’ seems to be the most vulnerable show, but ever since it ended all the storylines that on-line fans loved, and started focusing on the teens and the Marty/John/Natalie triangle, it has been beating ‘All My Children’ in key demos.  Given that the show has not even found a co-host, and the majority of pilots do not become series, it is going to be a while before we know if this project is meaningful. Last year, ABC shot a talk show pilot with Aisha Tyler that went nowhere. Let’s hope that the erstwhile Donna Martin sticks to cable reality shows.

Daytime Emmys:  How Low Can They Go?

The good news: the Daytime Emmy Award ceremony will take place on June 27.

The bad news:  It will take place at the Las Vegas Hilton.  Not only is that not in Hollywood, it’s not even on the strip.  It’s a budget casino where senior citizens stay when they decide to spend the weekend playing slots.  What, Circus Circus was booked?   Even the Adult Video Awards took place at the trendy Palms.   That’s right, in three years the Daytime Emmys have gone from the Kodak Theater, home of the Oscars, to a banquet hall in a hotel that is not upscale enough for porn stars.

The worst news: There is still no word on whether the Daytime Emmys will be televised.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that the CW will agree to air them again.  In contrast, the Adult Video Awards aired on Showtime.*

(* I learned about the Adult Video Awards from a Google search for award shows in Vegas.  Daytime is spicy enough for me.)

I realize that plenty of family friendly, prestigious award shows happen in Vegas.  The Academy of Country Music Awards just took place at the MGM Grand.  But having attended the past six Daytime Emmy ceremonies, and witnessing the enthusiasm of everyone involved diminish along with the ratings and the production values, I am concerned that few actors who are not nominated will be motivated to make the trek to Vegas.  A lot of the L.A. based media will not consider the Daytime Emmys worth the additional expense that will be involved. That makes for a less entertaining show for viewers.   I hope I am wrong, that the casts and writers view it as a mini-vacation and the ceremony turns out to have a fun party vibe like the Golden Globes, and a network comes on board.   Otherwise, it seems like nobody will pay any attention to the Daytime Emmys unless the actors decide to take off their clothes.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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