Deep Soap: ‘AMC,’ ‘OLTL’ Labor Dispute Settled, Plus No More Cursing on Soaps

"All My Children" (Photo: The Online Network)

The Online Network Settles Labor Dispute

All My Children” and “One Life to Live” will resume production as scheduled on August 12 now that a labor issue has been resolved. Both shows went on a scheduled hiatus a week earlier than planned due to a dispute with IATSE, the union that represents the crew of the shows. At issue was whether or not some episodes of AMC cost more than the $125,000 budget stipulated in the union’s contract with the shows. IATSE believed its members were due more money for the more expensive episodes. The terms of the settlement were not made public. In a press statement, IATSE Local 600 representative David Blake said, “We are pleased that that the parties were able to successfully address their concerns in a mutually beneficial way, which will enable these innovative shows to continue to be produced with our talented crews.”

No More Four-Letter Words on ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’

When “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” moved online, their new producers were eager to take full advantage of the lack of FCC regulation by making the shows edgier. That’s meant explicit sex scenes and cursing on par with basic cable programs. In response to fan feedback, The Online Network (TOLN) announced today that, beginning with the June 24 episode of AMC, there will no longer be swear words on the shows. I will admit to enjoying the spicier language because, to me, it added realism to the show. However, at times the language felt forced. In the heat of an argument, or in a life or death situation, using tame language can come across as artificial. When two friends are hanging out in their apartment having a relatively innocuous conversation, other words would work at least as well.

I doubt anyone was tuning in to the shows because of the language, which can be heard on numerous other web and cable series, but apparently some viewers found it a reason not to watch, or at least found it worth complaining about online. Since TOLN did not make any announcements about the show’s sexual content, apparently explicit scenes, like the oral sex between Pete and Colby on AMC, will still be a part of the shows. It’s another reminder that the online shows are works-in-progress. Some viewers are wondering why TOLN bothered to issue a press release about a change that could have been made without fanfare. Well, it’s the week after the Daytime Emmys and we’re talking about the two soaps that were not eligible for nominations. Ironically, this announcement was made on the same day that FOX asked the FCC to eliminate federal broadcast indecency limits.

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How Has the Internet Changed Daytime?

TOLN’s announcement about indecent language provides the perfect segue to the question that I posed to soap actors on the Daytime Emmys red carpet: How has the Internet and social media changed daytime soap operas? From stars and writers Tweeting with fans, to fan campaigns for or against storylines, to the online resurrections of AMC and OLTL, soaps are among the most Internet-influenced TV shows. Here is what they had to say.

Michael Muhney (Adam, “The Young & the Restless”)

I perhaps have a very powerful statement. I think the Internet is going to save daytime. Whether that be through social marketing, web series, accessibility to see episodes later on when you’ve missed them, fans being able to talk with other fans and maybe even communicate with casts and writers about what they like and don’t like. I think the Internet, in the end, will be what will saves daytime and makes it profitable.

Finola Hughes (Anna, “General Hospital”)

I think the funnest things [on Twitter] are when they find these terrible ’80s pictures of me and then this whole sort of thing goes out about my big hair and then it just kind of goes around the Internet. It cracks me up. My hair looked like a hat in the ’80s.

Kristen Alderson (Starr/Kiki, “General Hospital”)

It’s been amazing for “One Life to Live” and “All My Children.” …They’re thriving on there [online] so that’s been a really big blessing for all the actors and it’s put so many people back to work, which is amazing, and I’m thrilled for them.

A lot of people say mean things [on Twitter]. I think one time someone said something mean but they said it in all caps in a really funny way and it made me laugh so hard.

Cady McLain (Dixie, “All My Children”)

Well, I think it’s a little tricky because the networks still love and support their shows and it’s great to be on a network show, but at the same time, there is this huge demographic and audience online and it’s really important to be able to capture them as well, so how they translate to our success on the Internet is yet to be discovered. But I know that they’re watching us all very keenly.

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Jeff Branson (Ronan, “The Young & the Restless”)

The Internet has given soap fans a big voice and deservedly so. If you’re going to commit to five hours a week watching the show, you deserve to have a voice about it. I think it’s the perfect tie-in, especially because a lot of families are busier, they can watch it online, [and] watch it when they want.

Lauren Koslow (Kate, “Days of Our Lives”)

I think it’s extremely, extremely positive because it brings people together. You used to talk about watercooler moments that you’re hoping people would talk about the next day by the watercooler. Now people can talk about them in the moment especially with Twitter and Facebook. I see it all the time. I love people who Tweet me about their reactions to the show. It’s an immediate response like working in the theater and the audience is right there.

Erika Slezak (Viki, “One Life to Live”)

I would think it’s a huge impact because the more shows that go on the Internet, the more people can watch them any time they want to. Our producers Jeff Kwatinetz and Rich Frank  have coined the phrase, “We are no longer daytime. We are now anytime.” You can see us anytime on your Internet, on your computer, on your phone. The more shows that go on the Internet, the more product there is for people to watch whenever they want. If you wake up at two in the morning, put on your computer and watch a half-hour of “One Life to Live.” It’s expanded our horizons enormously.

Vincent Irizarry (David, “All My Children”)

There is no question that the greatest part of the success of the online transition is due to the fans because they were as vigilant as they possibly could be. And as we all know, daytime fans are extremely outspoken and they make sure that their voices are heard to the benefit of us all, frankly. So I’m grateful to them and I say it to them all the time. But we really do think this is going to be our stronghold, being here in the new media because it really is the luxury of people being able to watch it when they want.

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

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