Deep Soap: Judith Light and Catherine Bach Headed to Daytime

Judith Light (Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Judith Light Joining “The View’s” Salute to “One Life To Live”

More current and former “One Life To Live” stars will appear on the “The View’s” January 13th tribute to the soap, which will air before the OLTL finale. Judith Light, who won a Daytime Emmy for her role as housewife turned hooker Karen Wolek, will talk about her time on the show. Light reportedly turned down an offer of a cameo on OLTL. Kassie DePaiva (Blair) and her real-life husband James DePaiva (ex-Max) will also be guests on the show, which will be co-hosted by Erika Slezak (Viki.) They join previously announced stars Robin Strasser (Dorian), Robert Woods (Bo) and Hillary Smith (Nora). I hope that the cast members will be allowed to express their honest opinions about the show’s cancellation instead of being forced to put on a happy face. It was depressing to watch Susan Lucci smiling through her tears during the “All My Children” tribute. The OLTL stars have been refreshingly candid about their emotions. The patrician Slezak even cursed in  her current TV Guide interview, calling the cancellation ” bull—t.” Tune in to see if anyone goes rogue.

This Week In Stunt Casting

Apparently, “The Young & the Restless” has learned nothing from the flops of Diana DeGarmo, Sean Patrick Flanery and the rest of the primetime and film B-listers that it has cast. Entertainment Weekly reports that Catherine Bach, best known as Daisy Duke on the “Dukes of Hazzard”, will be playing Chelsea’s (Melissa Egan) mother, Anita, who is described as a schemer. Why does Chelsea, who seems to be the exact same character as Y&R’s Daisy albeit played by a much better actress, need a mother? Will Anita get in and out of cars by climbing through the window? What has Bach been doing for the past 30 years? Can she act? We’re going to find out.

A Tale of Two Soap Finales

It is striking how much less publicity the finale of “One Life To Live” is getting than “All My Children.” AMC got a special tribute issue of People. OLTL just gets an article. ABC itself attempted to turn AMC’s cancellation into a celebratory finale, issuing numerous press releases about the former stars who were returning to the show. That has not happened with OLTL. The show’s stars themselves seemed to do more to publicize the show through their savvy use of social networking than any professional publicists. My inner conspiracy theorist thinks that ABC is trying to downplay the end of OLTL because the network does not want to draw attention to the show’s sustained post-cancellation ratings surge. From a purely business standpoint, setting aside the fact that AMC’s low ratings were caused by three years of horrific writing that drove viewers away, the AMC cancellation made sense. Canceling a show that not only often does better than “General Hospital” but is has been the number one show among the teens and young women that the genre needs to reach on numerous occasions in the past six months makes no sense. Canceling the only soap whose ratings are improving makes even less sense. If a non-soap journalist wrote about it, a lot of people might start asking questions. ABC, I suspect, was also got off guard by how high the ratings were for the final week of AMC. It was more than a slight bump. It was the second most watched soap that week. If OLTL got the same amount of publicity, it might actually be the number one show for the wee among key demographics.

The pragmatist in me thinks that the disparity is just because AMC has higher name recognition. People who have never watched a single episode of a soap know who Susan Lucci is. Even though OLTL has been on the air longer, it’s always been the obscure, redheaded stepchild. OLTL has a lousy publicist. (I’ll just come right out and say it, now that the show is out of production.) A great publicist would have been emailing Deadline and The New York Times about the ratings surge every day. The mainstream media closely followed Prospect Park’s attempts to move the ABC soaps on-line. It was an interesting story with repercussions for the entire entertainment industry. When the deal fell apart the day before Thanksgiving, the media lost interest.

Meanwhile, the fans are picking up the slack. #OLTL was trending on Twitter during the East Coast airing of Thursday’s epic episode, in which Alison Perkins (Barbara Garrick) and Hannah (Meghann Fahy) joined the merry band of ex-cons wreaking havoc in Llanview. (Also trending: Replace the lyrics of a Drake song with Owl. Twitter is not always an indicator of what matters to America.) If you missed it, here is the final sequence. Yes, it is possible that Clint, Viki, Bo, Nora, Jessica, John  and Starr all are dead. Or that Mitch, Troy, and Hannah have finally been dispatched. With no spoilers, there is some genuine suspense.

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This is the first time in soap history that a show is ending on such a creative highpoint. The final weeks of AMC were great, but they were all about fixing the damage that had been done to the show. OLTL has been, on the whole, good for the past few years and great in 2011. When I watched the New Year’s Day marathon on SOAPnet, I was struck that the current OLTL is as good as the episodes of the 1990s. I can’t say that about any other soap. If I did not know that the show was going to be ending in a week, it would seem like it was launching a lot of major storylines. Granted, at the time the finale was filmed, everyone involved believed the show would continue, but this feels so different than all of the times I have watched the lowest rated soaps on the air essentially raise the white flag, give everyone a thrown together happy ending, and fade to black. The circumstances surrounding the cancellation of OLTL are unprecedented and it’s a shame that nobody outside of the soap fandom is paying any attention.


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

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