2012 was the first year since 1969 that All My Children did not air. As Jordi Vilasuso told me last week on Soap Central Live, "That's wrong." And he's right.
As you probably have read, it's looking like 2013 will be the year that All My Children returns. Money is in place. Deals with various unions have been inked. Actors are signing on to reprise their iconic roles. The rest of the details are still scarce, and some of the information that I know about Prospect Park's plans for All My Children are things that I can't yet reveal.
Before we start talking about what all of this means and begin to focus on future storylines, let's take a look back at everything that has gone down over the past two years. I mean, there's no sense in putting the cart before the horse -- at least until my next column.
In April 2011, ABC announced in very small print in a press release, that All My Children and One Life to Life would head off into the sunset. Both shows, it was said, were too expensive to produce, and television viewers were said to no longer be interested in shows that didn't teach them something. According to then-ABC Daytime president Brian Frons, people wanted to learn how to cook lots of tasty food -- and then, in the next hour, find out how to drop the pounds they'd put on by watching all of the cooking demonstrations on The Show That Shall Not Be Named. This Revolution was televised -- it just turned out that no one wanted to watch it.
In the wake ABC's announcement, fans mobilized. They were furious that ABC had canceled two of the crown jewels in its television lineup. There were protests and rallies; email campaigns targeted sponsors who advertised during ABC's daytime lineup; phone calls were placed to other networks about picking up the soaps... even Oprah was inundated with messages from fans wanting the soaps to be saved. And as Oprah so sagely noted about the soaps, "the time has come for [them] to be over" because there was no longer "a dime left to be made" on soaps.
There are, however, apparently lots of dimes to be made from a former mob boss who has opened a dog-grooming parlor. That's the next big show on the OWN network.
Then after fans were shunned by the Queen of Media, a company that most soap fans had probably never heard of, Prospect Park, stepped up to secure the rights to AMC and OLTL. There was grandiose talk that AMC and OLTL could be transitioned seamlessly to the Internet without missing a beat. It was going to provide a glimpse into the future of television broadcasting. Some fans were ecstatic, while others were skeptical.
Episodes were rewritten. Endings were changed. Then, just before Thanksgiving 2011, Prospect Park announced that it would have to shelve its plans to relaunch the two soaps. There were "issues" with various unions and financing. The ultimate cliffhanger became just a shot in the dark. Soap fans were devastated; this was the second time in about six months that their beloved soaps were once again ripped away from them.
More than a year later -- with not so much as a peep from a Pine Valley mouse -- there's again talk that AMC and One Life to Live are returning. This time, though, there are confirmed deals in place. Prospect Park has reach agreements with the various unions representing the actors, it's hammered out a deal with the Directors Guild, and, just recently, Prospect Park and the Writers Guild reached a pact. Prospect Park has also secured all the money it needs to get the two soaps back on the "air."
So, is it really for real this time? It certainly looks that way. And now that they are returning, soap fans need to keep their word and support Prospect Park in this venture. Sure, this isn't quite the way things were supposed to go, and Prospect's first go-around didn't exactly endear the company to fans. But nothing is ever easy in the world of soaps.
If and when All My Children returns to the universe, fans need to watch the show. Tell friends, tweet like there's no tomorrow (because that was once the case), chat on message boards, and spread the word any way they can. Heck, hire a skywriter -- or are they only hired to get actors rehired at The Young and the Restless? We need to do whatever it takes to keep these shows in production for at least another 40 years.
It may not be easy at first. I am sure that there will be some kinks that need to be ironed out. Anybody else remember the "shaky cam" fiasco that hit All My Children in 2006? Sales of Dramamine went through the roof during that so-called experiment. Eventually, though, things settled down, and we were all able to focus on the story.
Will the storylines also be winners? Probably not. Nothing is 100% perfect all the time. Trust me -- I know. I think we can all agree that a storyline that gets under our skin is much better than not having any storylines at all.
Over the past few weeks, I've been writing articles and getting the site ready for the return of All My Children (and One Life to Live). There was just something so right about moving Debbi Morgan's profile from The Young and the Restless. I certainly don't begrudge anyone for wanting a career -- and a paycheck -- but Debbi is ours. She is, was, and will forever be Angie Hubbard. If that sounds creepily possessive, then so be it. I'm sure she'd understand, and after having met her I am certain she claims each and every AMC fan as her own, too.
Had it not been for the determination of fans, the possessiveness of a show... its characters... and an entire genre, we wouldn't be discussing the return of any soap. We need to make sure that we do everything that we can to prevent anyone from getting the idea that no one loves these shows that no one cares if they disappear.
There are still many questions left unanswered. Where will the show air? How often? Who did JR shoot? Is Susan Lucci going to return as Erica? Will anyone ever find Bobby Martin in the attic? Don't fret. All those questions will be answered in due time. Well, most of them. For now, let's take a deep breath and continue to hope for what could be... what will be. It's time for our soap family to finally be reunited. Pull up a chair. I've been expecting you.