Deep Soap: Online ‘One Life to Live’ Gets an Executive Producer

'All My Children' Actress Lindsay Hartley (Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images)

Update 2: Apparently Prospect Park has realized they need WGA writers to produce high quality shows and has reached out to the union to negotiate a deal, according to Daytime Confidential.

Update:Vincent Irizarry,who played the villainous Dr. David Hayward on All My Children just signed a deal to join the on-line show. Irizarry announced the news on Facebook, saying, “Happy to share that I just signed on with Prospect Park for the “All My Children” reboot! Excited to bring dastardly Dr. David back to life, as he did for so many others, and to see my dear friends in Pine Valley once again. A great, big thank you to all the fans for your tenacity in keeping the hope alive. You’re awesome!!! Let’s all keep our fingers crossed together that it becomes a reality. The television version of the show ended with Cara discovering she was pregnant with David’s child.

According to Soap Opera Digest, production company Prospect Park has recruited Jennifer Pepperman to be the potential new executive producer of the online version of “One Life to Live.” Pepperman was formerly a coordinating producer on the show, which means she was responsible for the administrative, financial and logistical aspects of the show’s production. She also has hands-on experience having worked as a director for both OLTL and “As the World Turns.”

Lindsay Hartley, one of the two “All My Children” actors who signed onto the 2011 online incarnation of AMC, has reportedly signed on for round two. Prospect Park is allegedly in contact with three other AMC stars, as well as some “big names” from OLTL.

Reading between the lines, all of the deals from the previous incarnation of the online soaps have expired, and the company now has to start all over again. Most of the actors who were interested last year still appear to be available, including OLTL’s Erika Slezak (Vicki) and Jerry VerDorn (Clint). Others who turned down the online soaps before may have reconsidered. In my opinion, the shows will not succeed without the participation of actors who play core characters. While Hartley’s Cara was a delightful addition to AMC, the character was only on the show for about a year. She’s not a powerful draw that will inspire people to watch the new AMC. Of course, AMC’s biggest star, Susan Lucci, is currently a series regular on the new prime-time drama, “Devious Maids,” and hosts the reality show “Deadly Affairs.” While it might be possible for her to keep both of her new jobs and play Erica Kane, it would require careful scheduling and, I assume, enough money to make it worth Lucci’s while.

I must admit, I am troubled by Prospect Park’s alleged decision not to make a deal with the Writer’s Guild. As every soap fan knows, story is everything in daytime. The company is saying that it wants to have access to union directors, as well as the key crew members that are also represented by the DGA. Given that the WGA makes deals with Web series, video game companies, and other forms of New Media on a regular basis, I can’t imagine why an established production company who works with the union on its prime-time series would not be able to make a deal unless it wants to avoid paying for pensions and health insurance — while offering those benefits to actors and directors — or wants to pay well below the market rate for writers. Given that writers are a such a small portion of the show’s proposed budget, it seems like a strange choice. It would also prohibit WGA member Agnes Nixon, who created both shows, from joining the writing staff. Most of the other writers who made AMC and OLTL great, and understand the shows’ history, would also be off limits. It would limit the pool of potential writers to two dozen people, unless Prospect Park plans to hire writers with no daytime experience who have never been members of the WGA. Why wouldn’t the company want to have access to the best writers? Without writers who know the shows and the casts and characters that viewers love, the online versions of AMC and OLTL will be nothing more than new Web soaps with familiar names.

I don’t want to be a skeptic. Nothing would make me happier then for both of these shows that I love to rise again. I would like to believe that over the past year Prospect Park has raised the money it needs to finance the shows and figured out how to produce soap operas. I hope that a few months from now I will be sitting down to watch the premieres of the online AMC and OLTL and will gleefully discover that they are fantastic.

In Praise of Ellie

I have been trying to figure out why, other than actress Emily Wilson’s charm, I am so enamored with Ellie on “General Hospital.” She is paired with Spinelli (Bradford Anderson), a character I hated due to his Jason worships and constant abuse of the English language. She has no connections to other characters on the show. I should find her as annoying as the show’s other newbies, Sabrina and Britt. Instead, I am disappointed that sh is not real because I want to be her best friend.

Thursday, I realized that it is a combination of two factors. First, Ellie is a real person dropped into a soap universe. Second, she is an emotionally mature young female geek with high self-esteem. That is a television rarity. When Ellie realized that Maxie wanted to get back together with Spinelli, instead of starting to scheme against Maxie so she could hold onto her man, she told Spinelli that he had to make a decision about which woman he wanted. When he stood her up on Christmas Eve because Maxie insisted she needed him, leaving her to fend for herself at a party hosted by local mobster Sonny (Maurice Benard),  she broke up with him, pointing out that he put her in an awkward situation, and that his actions showed that he was always going to prioritize Maxie over her. Other than the mob element, this was a realistic scenario. Twentysomething guy flakes on his girlfriend, then acts like she is irrational when she is upset. I also loved that it turned out that Ellie did not appreciate getting, as she put it, ogled by Max (Derk Cheetwood) and Milo (Drew Cheetwood). As attractive as I have found Milo since I saw him shirtless, Ellie has every right to be skeeved out by his attention. He’s a friend of her boyfriend, after all. Not every woman enjoys getting attention from men. Ellie lamented to Spinelli that she was bad at relationships. Actually, I think she’s great at relationships. Since she isn’t afraid to be alone, she is willing to walk away from an unhealthy situation.

This being a soap, Spinelli begged for a second chance, proposing that, like the characters in “An Affair to Remember,” they meet on a roof if she decides she wants to be with him. I think she can do better. I’d like to see Ellie fly to L.A., ask “The Bold & the Beautiful’s” Steffy and Hope why they have wasted a year of their lives fighting for a guy who obviously does not respect either one of them, then return to her job at the hospital and get to know a handsome surgeon who is still grieving the loss of his wife.

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

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