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Putting A Little Drama into Baseball
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 12:23:14 PM
One would not ordinarily think that avid sports fans and soap opera stars would travel in the same circles. Thanks to a new advertising campaign, these two worlds will collide. ESPN has tapped several soap stars to promote its Fantasy Baseball league.
In another showing of corporate synergy, Disney-owned ESPN is teaming up with ABC Daytime to promote its 2008 Fantasy Baseball game. While seemingly from two different words, the company's marketing department devised a campaign that bridges the gap between the outfield and the world of soaps.


Known as the "Endless Drama," the campaign will team prominent ABC Daytime stars with baseball pros in a series of commercials. Featured soap stars appearing in the ads are All My Children's Rebecca Budig (Greenlee Smythe) and Cameron Mathison (Ryan Lavery) and One Life to Live's John Brotherton (Jared Banks), David Fumero (Cristian Vega), John-Paul Lavoisier (Rex Balsom) and Bree Williamson (Jessica Buchanan).


David Andrew MacDonald (ex-Edmund Winslow, Guiding Light) is also featured in the ads, which led to rumors that the soap vet was headed to One Life to Live. A spokesperson for One Life to Live states that MacDonald was there only to film the commercial.


Appearing from Major League Baseball are Florida Marlin Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Angels' Torii Hunter, Jorge Posada of the New York Yankees and Philadelphie Phillie Chase Utley.


The "Endless Drama" campaign begins on March 3rd, 2008 on ESPN's various networks and web sites.


During the strike, nearly all forms of entertainment grinded to a halt. Without writers, primetime series were unable to produce scripts for new episodes. Networks were forced to air reruns, hurry production of already-penned midseason replacements, and fill scheduling voids with unscripted programming such as reality series and news specials. Awards shows were scrapped because there were no writers to pen monologues and actors honored the writers' picket lines, refusing to attend ceremonies where WGA members were striking.


Daytime, however, was mostly unfazed by the strike. Somehow the soaps continued to put out their usual five weekday episodes week in and week out. Exactly how daytime pushed on where other genres failed is a mixture of foresight and luck. Most daytime drama series stockpiled scripts well in advance of the strike. The cushion allowed the soaps to continue normal production well into the strike. As the number of reserve scripts dwindled, networks executives stepped in to help write new material. Several writers invoked a financial hardship clause in their union membership in order to return to work. The financial core, or "fi-core," out allowed these writers to remain on the job while still maintaining their WGA membership. The most notable among those taking "fi-core" status were All My Children's head writers James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten.


Other soaps operated by using "scab" writers -- non-union members or union members secretly crossing the picket lines - to put together their shows. More than 130 striking daytime writers signed their names to a letter asserting their loyalty to the WGA and denying any allegations of strike-breaking.


During the strike, NBC's Days of our Lives fired its entire writing staff. In total, nine members were sent packing. Now, however, with the strike over, the show is reportedly re-hiring all of the unemployed scribes. According to a post on blog site Deadline Hollywood, a daytime source reported that "the staff of Days of Our Lives, who had all been fired last week, were getting their jobs back. And that a striking writer, if fired, had to be replaced by a striking writer. Not a scab, and not a fi-core member."


While daytime continues on with its business as usual attitude, there are expected to be some shake ups. Top-rated CBS soap The Young and the Restless is widely believed to be chomping at the bit to fire head writer Lynn Marie Latham. Latham, who also serves as executive producer on the show, refused to perform any non-writing duties for Y&R during the strike. Though it is not believed that Latham would be fired for that reason alone, the show's sagging ratings and growing discontent among viewers certainly makes her position much more precarious.


Primetime television is expected to take much longer to rebound. At best, new episodes of popular primetime series will not appear for another month. ABC plans to have new episodes of several of its primetime hits, such as "Desperate" and "Ugly Betty" by late-April. The network's "Boston Legal" is expected to be the first show to have the cameras rolling, with production resuming as early as next week. CBS is moving ahead with new episodes of its three editions of "CSI." NBC is predicted to focus on bringing back its higher rated sitcoms. Many programs may not return until the new Fall season.


According to Jack Kyser, the chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., the strike cost Los Angeles nearly $3.2 billion in direct and indirect costs.



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