Home Television “General Hospital” Hits Ratings High, But ABC Gets Sued By Online Soap...

“General Hospital” hit a ratings high the week of April 7th-15th, finishing second in number of female viewers ages 18-49. The soap had over 2.8 million viewers of all genders total, too, among the four remaining daytime sudsers. The show is on a roll, having brought back nearly everyone who was ever on it for the last three months leading up to its 50th anniversary. Somehow they managed to juggle 50 or more people, weave in old stories and new, and keep the whole thing moving forward at relatively fast (for soaps) pace.

But a villain lurked. His name is Jeff Kwatinetz, and I warned soap viewers about him a long time ago. Kwatinetz owns Prospect Park, the company that licensed “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” from ABC when the network foolishly dumped them. This is the same Kwatinetz who nearly wrecked Kelly Clarkson’s career, who had an unfortunate partnership with Mike Ovitz and Rick Yorn, was briefly engaged to the late Brittany Murphy, and managed Britney Spears for a month. Controversial? That’s an understatement.

When “One Life” left the airwaves and Kwatinetz was unable to put his licensed shows on line as promised, ABC moved three actors from the show with their characters to “General Hospital.” This accomplished a few things. It kept “One Life” alive for its fans, and it added a new flavor to “GH.” Since the exec producer and head writer from “One Life” moved to “GH” also, this meant that there were some crossovers, references to the old, appearances by some of the “OL” actors. It kept the cancelled show alive in fans’ minds.

But now Kwatinetz is actually launching his online shows. And instead of capitalizing on how ABC publicized one of his shows for a year or more, he blocked them. He wants the characters back. and the actors. So “GH” is creating three new characters for the actors, and never mentioning their old personas again. So what’s Kwatinetz doing? He’s suing ABC. Surprised? I doubt anyone in the movie or music businesses is. They know this guy. The soap people do not.

What should Kwatinetz have done? Made a deal for crossovers, allowed the actors and characters to go back and forth. He could have scored a huge p.r. coup for his online shows, and won over all the fans who probably don’t know how to watch shows online. But that would have been too easy! Instead Kwatinetz hired one of Hollywood’s loudest barking dogs, law firm Lavely and Singer, and asked for $25 million.

One of the complaints: that “GH” killed off two of the “OL” characters without asking. If the case makes it to trial, that would be one of the funniest discussions. Everyone knows that unless a character is killed on camera, no one actually dies on a soap opera. Even then, they can be revived. I refer you to Whoopi Goldberg complaining about a decapitated Kevin Kline returning to her show in the movie “SoapDish.” “I can’t write for a man without a head!” And yet, she did.

17 replies to this post
  1. I think PP is hoping ABC will cave & settle. The timing of the suit – one week before the shows are set to launch online – is not a coincidence. Personally, I hope that ABC doesn’t settle, allows this suit to go to trial, and calls Jeff K.’s bluff. The fact that one of the actors taped his previous role on future episodes of OLTL proves that the soap was not hampered by anything ABC did. Recasting roles is common in soaps, as is audience resistance. If the character is that important to PP, then recast it. But actors aren’t slaves. Don’t blame ABC if the actors in question declined to work for PP for whatever reason.

    As for PP have storyline approval over anything in GH’s universe that impacts its characters – what planet are you people living on? WHAT series – ANY series – would give that kind of authority to an outside production company (not owned by their parent corporation) or writer for a prolonged period of time? You PP supporters are crazy if you believe ABC would EVER agree to that kind of arrangement. You’ll have to show me the actual contract where the ABC Head of Daytime Television signed off on such an arrangement. The ABC Legal Department would never agree to provisions like that. NO tv producing entity would because it would hamper EVERY single character and storyline in the production. It wouldn’t make good business sense, good creative sense, or any sense from a practical standpoint.

  2. Roger, I really hope you delve into this deeper. I usually enjoy reading your pieces because you dig where others don’t – but not in this case. I hope you find out what is really going on and report on that, instead of this one sided ‘article’.

  3. To who are you even referring to in your bizarre last comment?? It would make much more sense if you were writing this while drunk at your pool. You are rarely one-sided in your coverage, so this comes out of left field as a regular reader. (I will assume this comment gets lost just as my other ones have, namely about the fact that Prospect Park DID negotiate to do exactly as you suggested; get cross-over rights for the characters has as well. ABC turned them down.)

    No question Kwatinetz has a chequered past when it comes to career successes and failures. Frankly, so do you–dead Hollywood starlets aside.

    The lawsuit is beyond juvenile. But as a soap fan, using the excuse “they can bring anyone back from the dead,” something fans have long hoped will be dropped–you should be beyond that to. Hollywood has seen plenty of more seriously weird lawsuits that have won based on far much less (and as has been mentioned here already, this is based on much more than you mention.) Great reporting job.

  4. A million dollars. I am writing to you from my estate in Brazil while nubile young women fan me with palm fronds. Later we’re taking bath in caviar and creme. Then Willie Nelson is putting on a private show for us, flown in by ABC. Then we’re going to watch reruns of Edge of Night.

  5. This article is very one sided. You seem to be ignoring the fact that PP had a contract in place for the crossover characters and ABC clearly violated it. It really doesn’t matter if the characters who will killed off can be brought back. It still wasn’t agreed upon by PP, who owns these characters and shouldn’t have to have the integrity of their story lines challenged. Read the complaint. You might learn something.

  6. The complaint filed makes it quite clear that ABC violated the agreement it had signed with Prospect Park. PP owned the rights to the seven characters they allowed ABC to use on General Hospital (John, Starr, Cole, Hope, Todd, Blair, and Tea). Then TPTB at GH promptly killed off two of them, Starr’s fiance and daughter (Cole and Hope), so that Starr could begin a new romance with existing GH character Michael. They legally did not have the right to kill off any of the characters, which placed an immediate burden on the writers of the revived One Life To Live.

    Furthermore, they did not have the right to dissolve the romantic relationship that on-loan John McBain had with off-screen Natalie. GH didn’t have the right to kill off an unborn OLTL character either, which it did with the child on-loan Tea was carrying (off-screen Victor’s son). Nor did they have the right to recast a character who wasn’t even on loan to them, writing that Tea’s brother Tomas was really GH’s former character Lorenzo Alcazar.

    These actions (and others I haven’t mentioned) placed an undue burden on the writers of OLTL and is clearly a breach of contract by ABC.

  7. One question, how much did Disney/ABC pay you to write this propaganda piece? Because anyone who has read the actual lawsuit, & knows anything regarding the history of how all this has played out would know how biased this article is. (If one can even call it a ‘article’, seeing as there was absolutely NO research done whatsoever.)

  8. Hmm…I think this is an incredibly one sided, misinformed piece, which doesn’t warrant any further commentary. Team Prospect Park all the way.

  9. Sorry Roger. You are soooo wrong. ABC didn’t capitalize on his shows. ABC used the characters that were most beloved on the show to help themselves because we, the fans, were making their lives a living hell because of what they have done to AMC and OLTL. ABC and Disney thought they would shut us up by throwing us a bone by giving us some of our characters. WRONG!!!!!! DIDN’T WORK THEN, WON’T WORK NOW!!!!! I support Prospect Park and will damn ABC/Disney to hell. Anything I can do to help, I will. Because, and this is just my opinion, I think that those bastards at ABC/Disney are hoping that the online versions will fail. Why else aren’t they advertising the reboot when they stand to make sooooo much money. Don’t even go there, Roger! Don’t even go there!!!!!

  10. Roger-while I appreciate your continuing coverage of the fallout of ABC cancelling AMC and OLTL, what did you do to warn soap fans of Jeff K’s behavior?-as I remember no such warning. To the matter at hand-As much as I want AMC and OLTL back, PP is being ridiculous here. I know mine is an unpopular opinion, but PP has no legal standing with the actors playing these roles. The Mannings/McBain belong to OLTL, no question, but PP should just suck it up and recast the roles.

  11. Another pro-ABC article, forgetting the facts that ABC cancelled TWO soaps, but hey as long as GH was saved that’s all that matters. You know most of what you put on here an anonymous poster on a message board said ALMOST the exact same thing

  12. So true! I was looking forward to OLTL but this is absurd. They should have made a deal for cross promotion, have crossovers on both GH and OLTL. I’m pretty sure I heard ABC was going to bring OLTL and AMC back on one of their affiliate networks, and then Prospect Park got their act together and decided to give it another go (online, unfortunately). Anyway, I won’t be tuning in online. I don’t appreciate that they’ve alienated much of the TV audience (elders, people without internet). “Interestingly,” they were able to secure a Canadian cable network to air OLTL and AMC, but there isn’t a single TV network in the US that would? I don’t believe it for one second. They should just air OLTL and AMC on TV too. Even on a delay. That way everyone can watch.

  13. What the hell is the bias in this article? The fact that OLTL can reverse the storylines is completely beside the point. Prospect Park was supposed to have story approval and GH didn’t bother getting it before writing whatever they wanted. There are also other issues covered in the lawsuit, like ABC refusing to turn over the show urls to TOLN (mysteriously, they suddenly redirect now) and ABC threatening not to run ads that Prospect Park has already paid for.

    Shame on you for not reporting both sides of the story.

  14. Roger read the complaint before commenting. ABC used a OLTL character that wasnt loaned to them and then said that character may actuallt ne a GH character.
    ABC held on the ULRS for AMC & OLTL even though PP had bought them.
    ABC threatned to not run ads for OLTL that PP already paid for
    They brought 7 oLTL roles over and signed 3 of those roles protrayers to long term deals even though the loan for the characters was only ONE YEAR
    Yes Killing Characters that are on loan to you is not right.

    This suit has merit 7 ABC knowsit. They finally gave them the ULRS Friday
    Full complaint here: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/custom/Documents/ESQ/PROSPECT_ABC_Complaint_WM.pdf

  15. I think that was PP intention to have crossovers but ABC wasn’t willing to let PP have a say on what OL characters would be doing.
    Hurrah to PP and Jeff K. for bringing back AMC and OLTL and boo to ABC for stopping OLTL to return as it should.

  16. Prospect Park is not the villain here-ABC is doing what it has always done, showing no regard for anyone or anything but themselves. They had a contract with PP and they broke it. According to reports, Kwatinetz tried to make a deal to allow characters and actors to go back and forth, but ABC would have none of it. The story has two sides and you’re completely ignoring one of them.

What do you think?