The deal between ABC and Jeff Kwatinetz’s Prospect Park Productions is over. Prospect announced in July it would bring “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” to their online network in January 2012 after they were cancelled by ABC. But Prospect is run by Jeff Kwatinetz, a man known in the biz for imploding his own successful company, The Firm, and nearly destroying the career of Kelly Clarkson. (She just barely retrieved it.) His partner, Rich Frank, had a long history with ABC. Whether they were ever capable of putting the soaps on the air remains a mystery.
But their announcement in July helped ABC enormously. It took pressure and blame off the network, which had incurred the wrath of viewers. Even Hoover, a major sponsor, pulled their ads off ABC daytime in protest. So Prospect Park’s sudden entry into a field it had no experience in made them seem like a white knight. But from the start it looked dicey. They never secured Susan Lucci, ABC daytime’s biggest star. She said in a recent TV Guide interview that no one had spoken to her since September 8th. This was after Lucci had been portrayed–incorrectly–as being the one who was slowing down “All My Children” coming to the internet.
Now in a statement Prospect Park says the fault lies with the unions and guilds. Again, this is preposterous. All the unions and guilds would be thrilled to see the shows continue on line or on cable. It’s disingenuous for Prospect Park to try and blame them. What’s worse, the involvement of Prospect Park caused “All My Children” to end without a finale–because it was supposed to continue online. And this final confession that the shows will never move comes five days after “One Life to Live” has wrapped. It can only be hoped that they were smart enough to shoot an ending, knowing this was it.
ABC has managed to destroy a 50 year legacy. The viewers are angry. Ratings for “The Chew,” an awful TV show, are not spectacular. But the show is cheap to produce, and that’s all that matters. Years from now there will be papers written about how the networks voluntarily drove off their audience.