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Timeline of American Soap Operas
Transcript of Timeline of American Soap Operas
by Mary Wollstonecraft.
The Book was considered to be one of the first works of feminist philosophy, calling for equality in marriage between a husband and a wife. The first piece of literature of the early days of publishing written for and by women. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman:
with Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects
Written just after the American civil war, the book was based on the author’s childhood experiences with her three sisters. It has been read as a family drama that validates virtue over wealth. Little Women has been read “as a means of escaping that life by women who knew its gender constraints only too well.” Little Women
By Louisa May Alcott
1868 a United States federal law which amended the Post Office Act and made it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information. In addition to banning contraceptives, this act also banned the distribution of information on abortion for educational purposes. The Comstock Act, March 3, 1873
By 1876 News and Entertainment are being transmitted via telegraph for public consumption..
H. Rider Haggard’s book Cleopatra was set in the Ptolemaic era of Ancient Egyptian history and revolves around the survival of a dynasty bloodline protected by the Priesthood of Isis. The main character Harmachis is the living descendant of the bloodline and is charged by the Priesthood to over throw the supposed imposter Cleopatra, drive out the Romans and restore Egypt to its golden era. The story is a stunning portrayal of Cleopatra revealing her wit, treachery, and overwhelming presence. All of the characters are mixtures of good and evil, and evoke both sympathy and loathing. The brilliant dialogue of the material takes on the voice of that era. She not only ruled ancient Egypt, but she also conquered several of the world's most powerful men, including Julius Caesar and one of his successors, Mark Antony. Her legacy as a supreme seductress lives on in Western culture. Cleopatra was at the center of a global struggle for power. Joan Collins was at the center of many power struggles as Alexis on Dynasty. Elizabeth Taylor was involved in several power struggles in Hollywood, on-screen and off. Joan Collins and Elizabeth Taylor have gained critical acclaim, and attainted great wealth, playing modern day versions of Cleopatra. Cleopatra’s story has inspired many strong female characters on soap operas. Cleopatra 1889 1916-1935
Development of Radio Networks August 18, 1920 women are allowed by law to vote in the United States. Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution Women are in need of distraction from the hardships they live. With the technological advances in radio, silent films are a thing of the past. And for women in America Melodrama films were all the rage. Melodrama Films are a sub-type of drama films, characterized by a plot to appeal to the heightened emotions of the audience. These films are stereotypically, campy tale of romance or domestic situations with stereotypical characters (often including a central female character) that would directly appeal to feminine audiences. There are many names for melodramatic films - 'women's pictures', 'weepies', tearjerkers, soap operas, and more recently, chick flicks. The 1930s & Melodrama Films Melodramas are films centered around strong female characters played to perfection by Hollywood legends like Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwick, Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer and Jean Harlow. These films are clearly the inspiration for the early model of the American soap opera. Melodramas Actress turned staff writer Irna Phillips is given a green light for her project Painted Dreams in late 1930. It was to be the first daytime radio soap opera program in the United States. The 15-minute daily show was about a small family of a widow and her unmarried daughter. The show ran from October 1930 – July 1943. Irna Phillips wanted to sell the program to the CBS network. WGN refused. Irna Phillips sued and won the rights to what she called “her property”. Under copyright law she won a landmark case in the women's movement in gaining power in media. During the Great Depression, Irna Phillips was being paid $250,000 year. She was paid by the word. WGN Chicago
Enter Proctor and Gamble:
William Proctor, a candle maker and James Gamble, a soap maker join forces to form company who’s claim to fame is making a bar of soap that floats called ivory soap in the late 1800s. In 2011, P&G recorded $82.6 billion dollars in sales. Fortune Magazine ranked P&G at 5th place of the “World’s Most Admired Companies”. The term soap opera was directly linked to Proctor and Gamble sponsoring the radio serials. Sponsors
Frances Perkins was the first female cabinet secretary, serving for the entirety of President Franklin Roosevelt's presidency. This in itself is extraordinary, but even more remarkable is that she was the force behind much of the groundbreaking New Deal legislation, including worker's compensation, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance and social security. Frances Perkins 1932
Irna Phillips was given the task of creating a daytime serial specifically targeted towards women. The Guiding Light was born. Phillips based the show on her own experiences. She gave birth to a still-born baby at age 19 and found spiritual comfort in listening to on-air sermons of famous Chicago preacher Preston Bradley. These sermons are the backbone of the creation of The Guiding Light. She wrote The Guiding Light from radio and then transitioned into television. Her sponsors Proctor and Gamble, a company run by men, and the advertising companies also run by men were not happy with the writing on the show. She was fired until they were forced to rehire her. She won her case under The First Amendment Law protecting Freedom of Speech. The Guiding Light 1937 Arguably the most important of the melodrama films. The director George Cukor was known famously known as “a woman’s director” in Hollywood. The entire cast of more than 130 speaking roles was female. Not a single man was seen in the film. The all-star cast included Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Hedda Hopper and Butterfly McQueen. Set in the high society apartments of Manhattan, the story follows the pampered lives of rich bored wives and the other women they are acquainted with. This film is for sure a model for the American soap opera. The Women 1939
World War II is the deadliest conflict and wide spread war in history. With so many American men devoted to the war, women were forced to step up in ways they never imagined. Women were sent into the nation’s workforce in droves. The Second World War was a pivotal event for women's establishment as an equal part of the workforce. Men entered military service, leaving a high number of jobs vacant which women had to cover. By the end of the war, the number of employed women had risen to 18 million, one third of the total workforce. Many women remained in the workforce after the end of the war, but men returning from the battleground had to resume their work. Therefore, a number of women were laid off or took up lower-paying "female" jobs, such as domestic workers, secretaries and clerical workers. Forcing women back into the role of housewives. World War II
The movie features a compelling comeback performance by Joan Crawford in the starring role, after a slump in her career and a two year absence from movies. As well as Crawford's unforgettable performance, the acting of the supporting cast, particularly Ann Blyth, Jack Carson and Eve Arden, is first class and makes the film completely believable. Joan Crawford plays a housewife saddled with two kids, a mortgage, and a philandering husband. She decides to do something about her drab existence and starts by kicking out and divorcing her husband. We see her switch roles from middle class homemaker to successful, divorced business woman. She progresses from a waitress picking up tips to a successful restaurateur who could give tips on the money market. She endures unfaithful, feckless men, a pretentious, ungrateful daughter from hell, but ultimately financial and personal disaster overwhelm her. Mildred is admirable for her hard work and self-sacrifice. She is smart, ambitious, and driven, qualities respected and rewarded in the American ethic. A definitive 1940's women's picture and a seething domestic soap opera, Mildred Pierce is also a superbly nasty noir, one that plays havoc with the era's ideals of maternal devotion and mom's apple pie. Mildred Pierce 1945 An ingénue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends. This classic story of ambition and betrayal has become part of American folklore. This film put Marilyn Monroe on the Hollywood map. Jill Farren Phelps, current Executive Producer of The Young and The Restless credits her love for this film, for her leap into her long career in soap operas. The 1950s was All About Eve
Hugh Hefner borrows $1000 from his mother to start up Playboy Magazine. Playboy Magazine is a men’s magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. Marilyn Monroe was on the first cover. The introduction of this magazine mainstreamed the objectification of women post World War II. Women were not happy in the roles forced on them as lowly paid workers or under appreciated housewives. Now they had to compete with Marilyn Monroe as a measure of beauty in America. Playboy Magazine 1953
In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to obey bus driver James Blake’s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger after the white section was filled. She acted as a private citizen "tired of giving in". Parks was tried on charges of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. Rosa Parks not giving into segregation and racism of that time was only part of the story. Rosa Parks was a hard working woman and was tired from the day’s work. Women of this time were tired. Tired of being second class citizens. Rosa Parks 1955
1950-1959 was an exciting time period for television. In the United States, black and white television exploded onto the scene at the beginning of the decade that saw electronic color television and remote controls launched, and at the end of the decade the public witnessed some interesting styling changes and the introduction of transistorized television. Radio shows are in the midst of making the leap to television. I Love Lucy rules the evening. Lucille Ball was a strong character actress with good business sense enough to eventually own her own production company that produces her hit show. Women are disgruntled by getting a taste of making an honest living during World War II, and then to be forced into jobs they are overqualified for. They are at a considerably less pay rate then men. They are objectified in new ways. And now they are forced to stay home and cook and clean. The radio shows they enjoy can be listened to while doing housework. Trying to get them interested in taking time out of their busy tasks to watch a television set. It better be worth it. The American Soap Opera finds its audience. Irna Phillips moves forward in her creation of other soap operas. Television in the 1950s
The Guiding Light made the leap to television 1956. The CBS network wanted to expand its soap opera market. After a legal battle between Irna Phillips and Proctor and Gamble was settled, resulting in her rehiring, As The World Turns was created as a sister show to The Guiding Light. As the World Turns, with its slow-moving psychological character studies of families headed by legal and medical professionals. The personal and professional lives of doctors and lawyers would remain central to As the World Turns throughout its run, and would eventually become standard fare on all soap operas. As The World Turns 1956
The Three Faces of Eve is 1957 film adaption based on the true story of Chris Costner Sizemore, also known as Eve White, a woman who suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) formally known as multiple personality disorder. Joanne Woodward won the Academy Award for Best Actress, making her the first actress to win an acting award Oscar for portraying three different personalities. Soap operas of the 50s must keep up with the changing times. Lucille Ball and Irna Phillips are running major network shows. Roles for women in film are becoming more complex. With the revolutionary 1960s at the door, changes in soap operas are the natural progression. As changes are happening in the world, changes in the audience is happening as well. The Three Faces of Eve 1957
1960 John Kennedy is elected President.
1960 The drug company G.D. Searle receives FDA approval to sell "the pill.“
1961 Peace Corps is established.
1961 President John F. Kennedy establishes the President's Commission on the Status of Women.
1961 Women Strike for Peace is founded.
1963 Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique is published.
1963 The Equal Pay Act requires equal pay for men and women performing the same job duties.
1963 Katharine Graham becomes president of the Washington Post.
1965 In Griswold v. Connecticut, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Connecticut's ban on the distribution of contraceptive devices or information is a violation of married couples' right to privacy.
1966 The National Organization for Women is established.
1968 Diahann Carroll becomes the first African American to star in a television situation comedy.
1969 President Richard Nixon creates the Task Force on Women's Rights and Responsibilities to recruit and train women for upper-level governmental positions. The 1960s
General Hospital was created by husband and wife soap writers Frank and Doris Hursley. Set in Port Charles, New York, storylines revolved around Dr. Steve Hardy and his friend, Nurse Jessie Brewer. Jessie’s turbulent marriage to the much-younger
Dr. Phil Brewer was the center of many early storylines. General Hospital 1963
Actress Elizabeth Taylor ruled the 1960s acting in two Oscar winning roles in film. She became the highest paid actress in films playing Cleopatra, the title role of that film. She won her first best actress academy award for playing a high paid prostitute in Butterfield 8 in 1960. At the time of filming she and her co-star Eddie Fisher had just married. Elizabeth Taylor was blamed for breaking up America’s Sweethearts Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. 1963 She was paid a record $7 million dollars, equivalent to $47 million today, for her role as Cleopatra in one of the most expensive films ever made. She began a public affair with her co-star Richard Burton during filming. She then went on to win her second Oscar for her role in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? categories. The choice of Elizabeth Taylor to play the frumpy fifty-ish Martha surprised many, but the actress gained 30lbs for the role. Miss Taylor lived a real life soap opera played out in the public eye throughout the course of her rich career. Elizabeth Taylor
the new queen of the melodramas 1960s
Created by Irna Phillips and her protégé’ William J. Bell (creator of The Young and The Restless and The Bold and The Beautiful), Another World was conceived as a spin off from As The World Turns. Another World was the first soap to tackle the taboo subject of abortion. CBS did not have room for this show as its carrying capacity would not allow. Irna sold the show to rival network NBC. Another World is the only soap opera to ever expand to a full ninety minute daily episodes. Another World 1964
Bewitched is a show about a witch who marries an ordinary man and tries to lead the life of a typical suburban housewife. The show continues to be seen throughout the world in syndication and was the longest-running supernatural-themed sitcom of the 1960s.
I Dream of Jeannie is a show about a 2000-year-old genie who falls in love with her master who is an astronaut. The face of television began to change with America’s taste of shows with supernatural themes. Bewitched & I Dream of Jeannie
Soap Operas became such a huge success with daytime audiences that the natural progression was to move into evening programming. 1964 Peyton Place aired twice a week on ABC. A total of 514 episodes were broadcast, in black-and-white from 1964 to 1966 and in color from 1966 to 1969. At the show's peak ABC ran three new episodes a week. Peyton Place is the only prime-time scripted series ever to run episodes continuously for years without reruns or hiatuses. The show started the acting careers of Ryan O’Neal and Mia Farrow. This marks the convergence of the American soap opera from daytime to primetime. Prime-Time Soap Operas
Days of Our Lives was created by husband-and-wife team Ted Corday and Betty Corday. Irna Phillips served as story editor for the show. William J. Bell wrote many of the early storylines. This show was about a family of doctor. It followed the lives of middle and upper-class professionals living in a middle America town and their loves, marriages, divorces, and family life.
Days Of Our Lives 1965
Dark Shadows is a gothic soap opera that aired on ABC from 1966-1971. The show was wildly popular with elements of the supernatural. The main character Barnabas Collins is a vampire. Werewolves, zombies, witches, ghosts and time travel were a presence on the show’s run. Dark Shadows was full of melodramatic performances and memorable plot twists. Dark Shadows 1966
The Secret Storm is a soap opera which ran on CBS from 1954-1974. In 1968, a 60-year-old Joan Crawford took the place of her daughter Christina, who was recovering from an operation. Joan Crawford was no stranger to melodramatic acting given her history as a screen actress in melodrama films. Ms. Crawford volunteered to fill in for her ailing daughter. She was to play a 24-year-old housewife. As silly as the concept seemed, this was big for the world of soap operas. Joan Crawford guest stars on
The Secret Storm 1968
One Life To Live is created for ABC in 1968. Created by Agnes Nixon, a protégé of the creator of television soap operas Irna Phillips, was the first daytime drama to primarily feature ethnically and socioeconomically diverse characters and consistently emphasize social issues. The show expanded from 30 minutes to an hour by 1978. One Life To Live centered around Victoria Lord and her family. This soap opera showcased a strong female-lead character not seen since the days of melodrama films. One Life To Live 1968
1970 Labor organizer Dolores Huerta becomes vice president of the United Farm Workers.
1971 The National Women’s Political Caucus is founded in Washington, D.C.
1971 Congress repealed the key elements of the Comstock Act.
1972 Congress passes Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex by public schools.
1973 The U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wad guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion.
1974 Richard Nixon resigns from the presidency following the Watergate scandal.
1974 Little League baseball is opened to girls
1976 Women are admitted to U.S. military academies for the 1st time.
1978 The Women’s Army Corps is dismantled as women are integrated into the U.S. Army.
1979 Iran takes 63 U.S. citizens hostage. 1970s
significant changes for women My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies is a book compiled by Nancy Friday, who collected women’s fantasies through letters and taped and personal interviews. Collecting fantasies from her friends and then advertising in newspapers and magazines, she organized these narratives into “rooms” and as each identified by the woman’s first name. The book revealed that women fantasize, just as men do. This book changed the landscape of soap operas, a medium for and about women. Sexual fantasies become part of the new regime taking over soap operas in the 1970s.
My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies 1973
By 1970, "Disco Swing" was born. However, many refer to this dance style as the "Hustle," which was in actuality a line dance introduced in 1975 by Van McCoy. Donna Summer's music sent the disco craze worldwide, and when "Saturday Night Fever" was released in 1978, the popularity of disco dancing really exploded. No longer trapped in the house, restless American housewives were unlocking the shackles that bonded them to a life sentence as stay-at-home domesticated women. Women of the 1970s enjoyed their newfound outlet for blowing off steam dancing the night away. A real night life is born. Studio 54 was the place to be for celebrities in the 1970s. Disco By the end of the 1960s into the 1970s, soap operas began to house their productions in studios for each show. This was also a time when American soap operas began to tape their shows. These shows were broadcast live since the early days of transition from radio to television. From live broadcasting to taping…
The Young and the Restless was created by Irna Phillips protégé William J. Bell and his wife Lee Phillip Bell for CBS. The soap opera was set in Genoa City, Wisconsin. The show focused on two core families: the wealthy Brooks family and the working class Foster family. The Young and the Restless reflected the youth and mood of the early seventies. Its theme song is the most recognizable theme songs in soaps. The Young & The Restless 1973
Significant changes concerning women’s issues in the 1970s also changed the American soap opera and its storytelling. Each new soap opera created strived for a unique reinvention of the medium.
Ryan’s Hope is created for ABC in July 1975. Ryan’s Hope focused on a large Irish-American family, the Ryan’s small bar. The premise of the show involved the blue-collar, immigrant Catholic Ryans and their adult children. The show contrasted the cultures of conservative parents with their more liberated, 70s-drenched children.
The Edge of Night moved to ABC in December 1975. Unlike most soap operas, which build a solid audience slowly over many years, The Edge of Night was an instant hit with daytime viewers. The public perceived it as a daytime Perry Mason. ABC creates new ground-breaking soap operas 1975
All My Children was created by Agnes Nixon for ABC in 1975 as a half hour show which expanded to an hour by 1977. Set in Pine Valley, Pennsylvania features the most popular character in the history of soap operas Erica Kane, played by the most recognizable actress of the genre Susan Lucci. Nixon created a soap opera that was topical and could illustrate social issues for the audience. The show was the first to tackle the Vietnam War. Before All My Children debuted, no show had discussed the war in any depth. In 1973, Erica Kane makes the decision to have an abortion, which becomes the first legal abortion aired on American television. The abortion story received much media attention since Roe v. Wade had been decided just a few months before the story began airing. After Erica had the abortion, the switchboards at ABC lit up with calls from doctors and nurses, offering medical opinions on how best to treat the character’s case. This is the beginning of passionate audience involvement in soap operas. All My Children 1975
Jiggle Television is born on prime-time television during the height of the 1970s. Critics believed that these shows had no intelligence or substance and that scantily or provocatively dressed women were showcased. Wonder Woman 1975 was created based on the DC Comics comic book super hero. Wonder Woman aired on ABC and was eventually sold to CBS. The show developed a strong following with its lead character dressed in a strapless one-piece bikini kicking butt and taking. Charlie’s Angels was created by mega producer Aaron Spelling in 1976. The series is about three beautiful women who work for a private investigation agency, and is one of the first shows to showcase women traditionally reserved for men. The series was a successful hit for ABC. Three’s Company aired on ABC was created in 1977, was based on a British sitcom. The story revolves around three sexy young single roommates who all platonically share an apartment in Santa Monica California. The show chronicles the escapades and hijinks of the trio’s constant misunderstandings, social lives, and struggle to make the rent. The revolving door of dumb blondes cast was a running theme of the show. This show also showcased the single lives of young beautiful women. Jiggle TV
The 1970s ushered in changes to the face of television. Soap operas are starting to take on topical and controversial subjects in their storytelling. With the new concentration on looks on the evolving television landscape, its audience calling for action and adventure, soap operas had to follow trends and also stand out from the many others shows filling the channels with clutter. Housewives were still the target audience for soap operas. Housewives were changing. Young girls were changing. The laws that governed them were changing. Days of Our Lives broke free from the soap genre’s reliance on nostalgia in its portrayal of real American contemporary families. By 1970 Days of Our Lives created the first soap opera “super couple” in the form of Doug and Julie. Susan Seaforth and Bill Hayes who played Doug and Julie dominated the 70s with some of the most provocative storylines such as artificial insemination, interracial romance, and rape. The popularity of soap operas was reaching new levels. TIME Magazine featured Doug and Julie on the cover of their January 12, 1976 issue. They are the first and only daytime actors to ever appear on its cover. Daytime TV, wrote about the cover: “it was almost inevitable that when TIME was looking for the actor and actress who personified the power of the daytime serials, it just had to choose Bill and Susan.” They were daytime’s first Royal Couple. The actors met on the series in 1970 and were married in real life in 1974. The story was covered widely by soap opera magazines and the mainstream press. Bill Hayes says of the couple’s wedding, “In 1974, Susan and I got married in my living room with 16 people. In 1976, when Doug and Julie got married, we had 16 million people.” The TIME Magazine cover was the first time we saw coverage of a soap opera go viral. Not since the days of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton has the drama played out on screen and spilled over into real life. Soap operas in the mainstream…
Aaron Spelling, an American television producer holds the record as the most prolific television writer with 218 producer and executive producer credits. Spelling created Charlie’s Angels as well as several other successful primetime television shows for ABC during the 1970’s. He then went on to create The Love Boat in 1977 based on a made-for-television movie of the same title. The movie was based on the nonfiction book The Love Boats by Jearldine Saunders, a real-life cruise director. The Love Boat was unique in its writing format. Each episode contained several simultaneous storylines, each written by a different set of writers. The parade of guest stars were endless from old Hollywood legends to the current rising stars of the 1970s. The wild popularity of The Love Boat showed American’s newfound love affair with adventure. The Love Boat sets the stage for the next phase of the ever-morphing soap opera: action and adventure revolving around a good love story. The Love Boat
Soap is a sitcom that ran on ABC from 1977-1981. The show was created as a night-time parody of daytime soap operas, presented as a weekly half-hour prime time comedy. Similar to a soap opera, the show’s story was presented in serial format and included melodramatic plot elements such as alien abduction, demonic possession, murder and kidnapping. The show was written and produced by Susan Harris, who went on to create The Golden Girls. Soap also gave a start for a young unknown Billy Crystal who played one of TV’s first openly gay characters who had a relationship with a pro football player. Gay characters on television was a taboo subject, long before Will & Grace made it to the air. Suddenly soap operas were not just for bored housewives. Soap 1977
American television seldom employed the continuing story line anywhere but in the soap opera. Dallas was the first successful series to bring the soap opera format to prime time since Peyton Place Although not considered a quality drama by most historians, Dallas employed the continuing story line and thus set the standard for the quality dramas to follow. The daytime soap opera had been thriving in American broadcasting since the early days of radio. It was aimed at what at the time was a substantial audience of women who stayed in their homes during the day. Dallas proved to network executives that audiences could, in fact, remember episode details from week to week. Like its daytime counterparts, and Greek mythology before it, Dallas was filled with intrigue, betrayal, romance, family struggles, and dramatic narrative twists. The success of Dallas spawned imitations like Dynasty and Falcon Crest in 1981. Primetime Soaps Dallas is an American prime time soap opera that revolves around the Ewings, a wealthy Texas family in the oil and cattle-ranching industries. The CBS show was famous for its cliffhangers. Larry Hagman who played the astronaut in the 60s sitcom I Dream Of Jeannie, was cast as greedy, scheming oil baron J.R. Ewing. The show also stared stage/screen actress Barbara Bel Geddes as family matriarch Miss Ellie. Dallas 1978 Knots Landing was created in 1979 as a spinoff show of Dallas which aired on CBS. Set in the fictitious coastal suburb of Los Angeles. The show centered on the lives of four married couples living in a cul-de-sac. The show was intended to be a scenes-from-a-marriage type drama series. By the time of its conclusion, Knots Landing had become the longest-running primetime dramas on U.S. television after Gunsmoke. After Dallas became a hit, Knots Landing was created. The show started the careers of Alec Baldwin and Halle Berry. Knots Landing 1979
1980 -New Guidelines from Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibit sexual harassment.
1981 -Assassination attempt on President Ronald Regan.
-Doctors identify the virus that causes AIDS.
-Sandra Day O’Connor is names the first woman justice of the Supreme Court.
-IBM introduces the first personal computer.
1983 -Sally Ride becomes the first U.S. woman in space.
1984 -Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman nominated by a major political party to run for vice president of the United States.
1986 -The space Shuttle Challenger explodes, killing seven crew members including teacher Christa McAuliffe.
-The Oprah Winfrey show begins airing nation wide.
1988 -Florence Griffith Joyner sets a world record in the 200-meter sprint at the Olympics.
1989 -The Berlin Wall falls, signaling the end of the Cold War.
“Who Shot J.R.?” is an advertising catchphrase that CBS created in 1980 to promote its primetime soap Dallas. It referred to the mystery surrounding the season ending murder attempt. The ultimate cliffhanger was not resolved until the November 21, 1980 “Who Done It?” episode. This was the first meme for soap operas. T-shirts were printed with such references as “Who Shot J.R.?” and “I Shot J.R.” became common over the summer. Several media outlets held “Who Shot J.R.?” contests. During the 1980 United States Presidential election, the Democrats distributed campaign buttons that claimed “A Republican shot J.R.” Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was among the millions worldwide intrigued by the mystery, and a session of the Turkish Parliament was suspended to allow legislators a chance to get home in time to view the Dallas episode with the answer. The campaign went viral on such a large scale.
The 1970smay have belonged to Days of Our Lives, but the 1980s were owned by General Hospital. Days of Our Lives broke the soap opera mold in creating the first “super couple” in Doug and Julie. General Hospital defined the term “super couple.” In 1978, General Hospital was close to cancellation due to low viewership. Nielsen ratings were becoming important to the medium. To save the show, ABC executives hired Gloria Monty as the show’s executive producer. Monty wanted to attract a youth-based audience as a way of gaining higher ratings. Troubled teenager Laura Vining, played by Genie Francis, was created and went from appearing a couple of times a week to having fifty pages of script a day. Anthony Geary joined the cast in 1978 for what was meant to be a 13-week stint as Luke Spencer.
Luke and Laura appealed to the teenage viewers. Since viewers expressed interest in Luke and Laura with a positive response, the story moved towards a romance between them. The couple wed at the end of the hour-long show on November 17, 1981; the event was watched by 30 million viewers and remains the highest-rated hour in American soap opera history. The couple was credited with having brought “legitimacy to daytime serials” by crossing boundaries and becoming celebrities in the mainstream media. Elizabeth Taylor made a cameo appearance during the event and Princess Diana reportedly sent champagne. Luke and Laura ended up being on the cover of People Magazine and Newsweek giving credibility to soap opera fans. Luke & Laura 1981 Soap Opera Digest is a weekly magazine covering American daytime soap operas, featuring on-screen and off-screen news about the series, interviews with and articles about performers, storyline summaries and analysis. Founded in 1975, the magazine has historically included prime time soap operas in its coverage as well. In 1980, Network Publishing Corporation purchased the magazine from founders Angela and Jerome Shapiro. Daytime and primetime soaps gather attention from major magazines such as TIME Magazine, Newsweek, and People Magazine. Soap Opera Digest is the natural progression in media coverage for soap operas. Soap Opera Digest With the success of a string of hit shows including Charlie’s Angels and The Love Boat under his belt, Aaron Spelling created Dynasty for ABC in 1981. The prime time television soap opera revolved around the Carrington's, a wealthy oil family living in Denver, Colorado. Dynasty was ABC’s direct competitor to CBS’s Dallas. Fashion designer Nolan Miller was costume designer for Dynasty and its spin-off series The Colbys. The show was lackluster until the casting of Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington. The legendary rivalry between the characters played by Joan Collins and Linda Evans created what is lovingly known as catfights. The catfight becomes a staple in all soap operas both daytime and nighttime. Dynasty 1981
Falcon Crest revolves around the feuding and wealthy Gioberti / Channing family in the Californian wine industry. Legendary movie actress Jane Wyman and first and ex wife to President Ronald Regan, starred as Angela Channing, the corrupt tyrannical matriarch of the Falcon Crest Winery. Earl Hamner, The Waltons creator, brought the show to life as compliment to Dallas. The Dallas / Falcon Crest combination was a ratings powerhouse for several years. The show famously capitalized on an old Hollywood feud between Jane Wyman and fellow movie star legend Lana Turner. Reportedly, the two actresses quickly refused to speak to each other and the producers had to film their confrontational scenes separately and then splice them together. Falcon Crest 1981
Search For Tomorrow premiered on CBS on 1951 and was sold to NBC in 1982. The show continued on NBC until the final episode in 1986. At the time of its final broadcast, it was the longest-running non-news program on television. The show’s initial sponsor was Proctor & Gamble. As the show’s ratings increased, other sponsors began buying commercial time. In 1983, both the master copy and the back up of a Search For Tomorrow episode were lost, the cast was forced to do a live show for the first time since the transition to raping shows sixteen years before. It was thought that this situation mirrored a similar one in the 1982 movie Tootsie. Search For Tomorrow 1951
Tootsie is a 1982 American comedy film that tells the story of a talented but volatile actor whose reputation for being difficult forces him to adopt a new identity as a woman to land a job as a soap opera star. The film starred Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange. Lange won the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her performance as soap opera actress Julie Nichols. This was the first time a motion picture featured the behind-the-scenes process of soap operas. Tootsie 1982 A villain is an evil character in a story, whether a historical narrative or a work of fiction. In soap operas, the villain, is sometimes called a bad guy, is an antagonist, tending to have a negative effect on other characters. A female villain is sometimes call a villainess or a bad girl or bitch. Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines villain as “a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot”. Elizabeth Taylor played the widow of a mad scientist who tried to freeze the world, Helena Cassadine. Stefano DiMera on Days Of Our Lives has been one of the most devious and dangerous villains and crime lords in town for decades. In the first episode of the second season of Dynasty, titled “Enter Alexis” showcased the talents of British actress Joan Collins as the superbitch of Denver. Dallas would not be Dallas without J.R. Ewing. Knots landing spiced up as soon as Donna Mills moved into the cul-de-sac. Enter….Soap Villains
Cable Television is a system of distributing television programs to subscribers via radio frequency signals transmitted through coaxial cables through hybrid fiber coaxial networks. The cable television franchise fees represent part of the compensation a community receives in exchange for the cable operator’s occupation and the right-of-way use of public property. A franchise fee is not a tax; it is a rental charge. Various live local programs with local interests were rapidly being created all over the United States in most major television markets in the early 1980s. Cable television was filled with endless possibilities in programming with an potentially unlimited carrying capacity. The major networks now had competition in its limited programming. Television is forever changed with the introduction of cable television. Cable Television MTV is a cable television channel based in New York City that launched in 1981. The original purpose of the channel was to play music videos guided by on-air hosts known as VJs. With the new presence of MTV waking up America’s youth, the Broadway play scene and the numerous soap operas studios scattered about, New York becomes an exciting time, with the talent pool gathering there. MTV has a huge influence on the creation of its fastest rising megastar Madonna. Madonna had a major influence on women of the 1980s finding their voices and fierce independence. Soap operas must follow the trends of American women in order to survive. Lifetime Cable Network 1982
“Television for Women” Divorce or “dissolution of marriage” is a legal process in which a judge or other authority dissolves the bonds of matrimony existing between two persons, thus restoring them to the status of being single and permitting them to marry other individuals. Since the 1980s, federal legislation has been enacted affecting the rights and responsibilities of divorcing spouses. Federal Welfare reform mandated the creation of child support guidelines in all 50 states in the 1980s. With divorce on the rise in the 1980s, women had to get back into the workforce, leaving behind their unwanted roles as housewives. Divorce
The Brat Pack is a nickname given to a group of young actors who frequently appeared together in teen-oriented coming-of-age-films in the 1980s. The Brat Pack films have been described as representative of the “socially apathetic, cynical, money-possessed eighties generation. They made frequent use of adolescent archetypes. These films changed the way many young people looked at everything from class distinction to friendship, from love to sex and fashion to music. They are considered “among the most influential pop culture contributions.” Daytime gears up to grab a younger audience, and these films influence the next phase of soap operas leaning toward America’s youth. The Brat Pack The videocassette recorder is an electro-mechanical device that records analog audio and analog video from broadcast television on a removable magnetic tape, so that images and sound can be played back at a more convenient time. Most domestic VCRs are equipped with a television broadcast receiver for TV reception and programmable clock for unattended recording of a certain television channel at a particular time. The invention of the VCR was a welcomed aid to working mothers who did not want to miss their favorite soaps. Unfortunately recorded shows do not count in Nielsen ratings. The VCR
Loving is created in 1983 by Agnes Nixon. With the established and successful ABC daytime soaps veering into a new trend of youth orientation and action/adventure storylines, Nixon developed a new series geared towards romance. The show bumped Ryan’s Hope’s timeslot and revolved around the blue-collar Donovans and the blue-blood Aldens. Major social issues such as incest, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress syndrome of Vietnam vets were stories showcased.
Loving 1983 NBC was looking to expand its soap opera shows. Santa Barbara was created in 1984. The show revolves around the eventful lives of the wealthy Capwell family of Santa Barbara, California. Santa Barbara aired in over 40 countries around the world. The show’s popularity continued to rise, and it even had fans in the White House. In 1985, when character Augusta Lockridge was blinded following a tunnel collapse, Ronald Regan sent actress Louise Sorel a letter saying he and Nancy were praying for her and hoped she recovered. Santa Barbara has won 24 Daytime Emmy Awards. Back stage battles for control of the show between NBC and the show’s creator/executive producers was as legendary as some of Santa Barbara’s outrageous plots. The show gave Robin Wright her start before her Princess Bride and Forrest Gump fame. Eden and Cruise are the first ever interracial “super couple” in the history of the genre.
Jeanne Cooper is best known for her role as Katherine Chancellor on The Young and The Restless. Her character has broken ground in the daytime medium; Katherine has endured several bouts of alcoholism and the loss of many men in her life (four late husbands and a child given away at birth). She remains the longest tenured actor on The Young and The Restless. Katherine (and Cooper) also had a facelift on national television (Cooper had pitched the idea of having a live facelift to CBS executives, who agreed to write the facelift into the show for Katherine Chancellor). In 1984 Cooper had a facelift and Y&R put it in the storyline showing footage from Cooper's actual surgery as Katherine had her facelift. Plastic Surgery 1984
Soap opera weddings are often the culmination of years of dealing with heartache and conquering adversity. But just because the couple exchanges "I do's" doesn't mean it's happily ever after. Many, but not all couples on soaps get hitched for the right reasons. The wedding of Luke and Laura on General Hospital was witnessed by 30 Million viewers. Several months earlier the world watched Prince Charles marry Lady Diana with 23 million viewers, 7 million viewers less than fictional characters of Luke and Laura. Couples go through months of obstacles to finally be together and eventually marry. After all, Laura married Luke after eventually forgiving him for raping her a year or so earlier. Other soaps were looking to recapture the ratings ($$$$) of Luke and Laura’s wedding. Each show created new and exciting couples in an effort to cash in. Soap Opera weddings
Victoria “Viki” Lord is the matriarch of the Lord family on the ABC soap One Life To Live. The mainstay heroine for the series, Victoria’s storylines focus on drudgery, love, and family troubles. One of the longest-running characters on American daytime television, Viki has weathered widowhood (three times), divorce, a brain aneurysm, a near-death out-of-body experience, being shot, suffering a stroke, breast cancer, rape, a heart transplant, the abduction of three of her five children as infants and the death of her daughter from lupus. Most notably, she suffered from recurring bouts with dissociative identity disorder. Audiences were certainly no strangers to the subject of DID. Sally field played a substitute teacher with DID in the made for TV movie Sybil. Sybil suffers from dissociative identity disorder as a result of psychological trauma she suffered as a child. With the help of her psychiatrist, played by Joanne Woodward, who played the title character from the 1950s film The Three Faces of Eve, Sybil gradually recalls the severe child abuse that lead to the development of 13 different personalities. Niki Smith became a constant occurrence throughout the course of Viki’s life. This was the first time a soap had given its leading lady severe mental illness to battle on-screen.
Dissociative Identity Disorder
One Life To Live 1985
The Colbys was created by Aaron Spelling for ABC as a spin-off of Dynasty from 1985 – 1987. The Colbys revolved around another wealthy, upper-class family, who were distant relatives of the Carringtons of Dynasty. Intended to surpass its predecessor in opulence, the series’ producers were handed an immensely high budget for the era and cast a handful of well-known movie stars among its leads including Charlton Heston, Barbara Stanwyck, and Katharine Ross. The Colbys was ultimately a ratings disappointment was canceled after two seasons. ABC counted on America’s fascination with the rich and powerful and its obsession for Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The Colbys 1985 The new syndicated talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show hits daytime television in 1986. Produced by Oprah Winfrey, the show became the highest-rated talk show in American television history. The show was highly influential, and many of its topics penetrated into the American pop-cultural consciousness. Winfrey used the show as platform to teach and inspire, providing viewers with a positive, spiritually uplifting experience. The Oprah Winfrey Show raised the bar in daytime television and this caused the powers-that-be in the soap world to take notice. The Oprah Winfrey Show 1986
The Bold and the Beautiful is created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell for CBS Daytime in 1987. The show centers upon the Forrester family and their fashion house business Forrester creation. The Bold and the Beautiful is also a sister show to the Bell’s other soap The Young and the Restless, as several characters from each show have crossed over to the other. Since its March 1987 premiere, the show has become one of the most-watched soap in the world with an audience of an estimated 26.2 million viewers. The Bold & The Beautiful 1987
Generations was created for NBC in 1989 to fill the timeslot vacated by Search for Tomorrow. The show was groundbreaking in that it was the first soap opera to feature and African American family on the show from its inception. The Nielsen ratings were very low, due mainly to it being aired directly opposite ratings monster The Young and The Restless. The primetime success of The Cosby Show and the wild popularity of The Oprah Winfrey Show paved the way for Generations to go on the air. The series has a small but dedicated fan base today. Generations 1989
Roseanne is an American sitcom that was broadcast on ABC starting in 1988. Starring comedienne Roseanne Barr, the show revolved around the Conners, an Illinois working-class family struggling to get by on a limited household income. The show reached #1 in the Nielsen ratings becoming the most watched television show in the United States from 1989-1992. Roseanne put a face to America’s working class and began to phase out its fascination with Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Many critics considered the show notable as one of the first sitcoms to portray a blue-collar American family with two parents working outside the home, as well as lead characters who were noticeably overweight. For many years Roseanne tackled provocative subjects and issues such as poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, menstruation, birth control, teenage pregnancy, masturbation, obesity, abortion, race, social class, domestic violence, infidelity and gay rights, subjects not unfamiliar to daytime television. This show changed the face of television from pretty and rich people with pretty problems. Roseanne 1989
1990 –The World Wide Web is created, sparking the Internet revolution.
1991 –U.S. troops support Kuwait against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.
-The U.S. Department of Labor establishes the Glass Ceiling Commission to eliminate barriers that block qualified women from advancements in the workplace
1992 –The 1992 election doubles the percentage of women in Congress; as a result, 1992 is dubbed the Year of The woman.
-Russia and the United States sign a treaty officially ending the Cold War
1993 –Young girls are introduced to the workplace as the Ms. Foundation for Women launches its first annual Take Our Daughters to Work Day
-The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is erected in Washington, D.C.
-Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Attorney General Janet Reno are appointed.
1994 –The Violence Against Women Act is passed to combat gender-based violent crimes.
1995 –A bomb destroys the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
1997 –Madeleine Albright is confirmed as the first woman U.S. Secretary of State.
-U.S. Army General Claudia Kennedy becomes the first woman three-star general.
-The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) debuts.
1998 –President Bill Clinton is impeached by the House of Representatives, then is acquitted by the Senate.
1999 –The United States joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in air strikes against Yugoslavia. 1990s
America’s economy took a nose dive as a direct result of the Gulf War. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous is off the air. The top show on television in the 90s is Roseanne, a sitcom centered around a working class family. Soaps are beginning to face threats of cancellations. Daytime started with Ryan’s Hope going off the air in 1989. Then Generations in 1991, then Santa Barbara in 1993, and finished with Sunset Beach in 1999. Dallas and its sister show Knots Landing, Dynasty and its spin-off The Colbys, and Falcon Crest were all gone by the 1990s. RIP Wealthy Characters on TV
Twisted soap opera Twin Peaks was created by visionary film director David Lynch and Mark Frost, producer of Hill Street Blues. It has been said that Twin Peaks began the trend of accomplished cinematography now commonplace in today's television dramas. Lynch and Frost rented a screening room in Beverly Hills and screened Peyton Place and from that developed the town before its inhabitants. The series follows FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, as he investigates the murder of a popular teenager and homecoming queen Laura Palmer. This show gave us a glimpse into the secret lives of American teenagers. Twin Peaks became one of the top-rated shows of 1990. Reflecting its devoted cult fan base, the series became a part of popular culture not seen since the days of Dark Shadows. Declining ratings led to ABC’s insistence that the identity of Laura’s murderer be revealed midway through the second season. The show was cancelled in 1991. In 1992, the series spawned a prequel, the film Fire Walk With Me. Twin Peaks 1990 Aaron Spelling also created a teenage soap opera. Beverly Hills 90210 was created for Fox in 1990. The show followed the lives of teenagers living in the upscale, star-studded community of Beverly Hills, California and attending the fictitious West Beverly High School. The original premise of the show was based on the adjustment and culture shock that twins Brandon and Brenda Walsh experienced when they moved from Minnesota to Beverly Hills. In addition to chronicling the friendships and romantic relationships of the characters, the show also addressed numerous topical issues such as date rape, alcoholism, domestic violence, drug abuse, teenage suicide, AIDS, bulimia and abortion.
Beverly Hills 90210
1990 The 1990s ushered out its fascination with television shows about rich and wealthy characters. With women crashing through the glass ceiling of salaries, women of the 90s were earning big. Roseanne Barr not only starred in her number one sitcom, she was executive producer. For the final two seasons, Barr earned $40 million, making her the second-highest-paid woman in show business at the time, after Oprah Winfrey. Julia Roberts is one of the most successful actresses in the history of Hollywood. Her 1990’s film Pretty Woman grossed $464 million. Demi Moore left General Hospital to become one of Hollywood’s Brat Pack. In 1990, Moore starred in Ghost, which was the highest-grossing film of that year. She also became the highest –paid actress in film history and was paid $12.5 million to star in Striptease. The supermodel became prominent in 1990s media. The title signified a supermodel’s fame having risen simply from “personality”. The five models were Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Tatiana Patitz and Naomi Campbell. Linda Evangelista mentioned to Vogue that “we don’t wake up for less than $10.000 a day”. Women of the 90s Soapdish is a 1991 film which tells a backstage story of the cast and crew of a popular fictional television soap opera. Aaron Spelling served as executive producer of the film. It stars Sally Field as an aging soap star, joined by Kevin Kline, Robert Downey Jr., Elisabeth Shue, Whoopi Goldberg, Teri Hatcher, and Cathy Moriarty. Tootsie was the first dramatic film to feature the behind the scenes of a soap opera. Soapdish was a campy comedy about a soap opera subplot of the actors portraying the soap characters, as a soap opera within a soap opera. Whoopi Goldberg played the head writer for the fictional soap The Sun Also Sets, who has the dilemma of writing for a character brought back from the dead who was decapitated. Soapdish 1991
Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman created Sisters for NBC in 1991. The groundbreaking primetime soap opera was one of the first demographic hits because of strong female viewership. Sisters was the first primetime network series to focus specifically on the lives of women, and the issues relating to them. Sela Ward and Swoosie Kurtz were both nominated for Emmy Awards for their roles. The show gave its start to Ashley Judd and George Clooney was a long running special guest star just before his star making turn on ER. Sisters 1991
The Real World started the reality television revolution. Mary-Ellis Bunim, former executive producer for the soaps Search For Tomorrow, As The World Turns, Santa Barbara and Loving, created the show inspired by the 1973 PBS documentary An American Family. The series focuses on the lives of a group of strangers who audition to live together in a house for several months, as cameras record their interpersonal relationships. The footage shot during the housemates’ time together was edited into 22-minute episodes. The narration given over the opening title sequence by the seven housemates: “This is a true story…of seven strangers….picked to live in a house…have their lives taped…to find out what happens…when people stop being polite…and start getting real…The Real World.” The Real World 1992 Aaron Spelling was looking to expand his audience from the teenage market a grab for the twenty-something market. With Darren Star, Spelling created a soap opera following the lives of a group of 20-somethings living in a brownstone complex on Melrose Place, in Los Angeles California. Melrose Place was a spin-off of Beverly Hills 90210. Borrowing from Dynasty’s success with bringing in Joan Collins, Heather Locklear was cast as the show’s bad girl. The show earned several Golden Globe Nominations. At the height of the show’s popularity, the female stars were featured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine on May 19, 1994. Melrose Place 1992
SORAS is the practice of accelerating the age of a television character (usually a child or a teenager) in conflict with the timeline of a series and the real-world progression of time. Rapid aging is typically done to open up the character to wider range of storylines. All the shows use it to attract younger viewers. Younger viewers are the coveted audience for soap operas. The plot devise usually goes off without audience resistance. All My Children was under fire in 1993 when it introduced the character of Kendall Hart played by pre Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar. The arrival of Kendall prompted the reveal that prior to the series’ debut, Erica Kane had been raped at age 14 by her father’s film star friend Richard Fields. She was a complex villain described as the most terrible daughter on daytime. Fans of All My Children did the math and revolted. Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (SORAS)
The summer of 1992, Ryan Phillipe began playing a ground breaking role as gay teen Billy Douglas on One Life To Live. Billy Douglas came out gay and was at the center of a major town scandal. Rumors were spread that Reverend Andrew Carpenter sexually molested Billy, and homophobia spread through town. Andrew’s brother had been a gay man who died of AIDS, and he fought against the town’s desire to stigmatize gay people. In a touching scene at St. James Church, Andrew delivered an impassioned speech about the destructive danger of hate and the divine power of love. At the end of the speech, Billy publicly announce he was gay. Virginia Douglas was moved by Billy’s speech and embraced her son saying, “Nothing could ever make me stop loving you! Nothing in this world!” Melrose Place and The Real World had openly gay characters in their shows. This storyline changed the face of storytelling for soap operas for years to come. Gays on Soaps
Tabloid talk shows started in the early 1990s,and have sometimes been described as “freak shows”. The host invites a group of guests to discuss an emotional or provocative topic, ranging from the marital infidelity to more outlandish topics. The guests are encouraged to make public confessions and resolve problems with on-camera “group therapy”. These syndicated tabloid talk shows steal away viewers from soap operas and force them to create outlandish plot devices to lure lost viewers back. The Maury Povich Show and The Jerry Springer Show begin with a title card warning parents that the show may contain content inappropriate for children. Guests are interviewed, when a second guest is announced to confront. Then a brawl usually ensues that has to be broken up by show security. On an episode of The Jenny Jones Show called “Same-Sex Secret Crushes” taped on March 6, 1995, a gay man confessed his love for an acquaintance. While on the show the object of the crush reacted with laughter. Three days after the show’s airing. The object of the crush killed his admirer and was later convicted of second degree murder and received a sentence of 25-50 years in prison. While The Oprah Winfrey Show was elevating daytime television, tabloid talk shows go in the opposite direction. Tabloid Talk Shows
Erica Slezak has been working out Viki’s dissociative identity disorder on One Life To Live for years. Soaps’ leading ladies of the 90s are put through vigorous paces of outrageous storytelling, and are being paid top dollar to do so. Susan Lucci is playing out Erica Kane’s repressed memories of rape and the product of that rape comes to town in the form of a bad seed Kendall on All My Children. Melody Thomas Scott is playing Nikki Newman with a serious painkiller and alcohol problem on The Young and The Restless. Eileen Davidson has her hands full on Days Of Our Lives playing five characters. Kim Zimmer had to endure a storyline of her character of Reva being cloned on Guiding Light. In 1995, Deidre Hall had the task of playing her alter ego Dr. Marlena Evan becoming possessed by the Devil on Days of Our Lives. The storyline caused huge controversy, and garnered a lot of attention to Days. The head writer at the time was James E. Reilly, who was known for his outrageous storylines. His first storyline ratings spike for Days was Vivian burying Carly alive. Soap operas had to compete with tabloid talk shows. It was the next phase of evolution for soaps. Soap Operas are forced to compete for ratings.
The O.J. Simpson murder case put a significant damper on daytime television production. The criminal trial was held in Los Angeles County Superior Court and spanned from November 1994 – October 1995. Former football star and actor O.J. Simpson was tried on two counts of murder following the June 1994 deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The case is the most publicized criminal trial in American History. Ultimately, Simpson was acquitted after a lengthy trial that lasted over nine months. The Los Angeles Times alone covered the case on its front page for more than 300 days after the murders, and the big three networks nightly news broadcasts gave more air time to the case than the Bosnian War and the Oklahoma City bombing combined. All three major networks pushed aside daytime programing for the live broadcasting of the almost year long trial. Soap operas lost record numbers in viewers and never fully recovered. The O.J. Simpson Trial 1994 The City follows the loves and lives of the survivors of the Corinth Serial Killer, the final story on Loving. The show as created to replace the ABC soap Loving in 1995. The show followed the survivors from Corinth, Pennsylvania to an apartment building in New York’s SoHo district. Morgan Fairchild was signed to the show for a year and was replaced with Jane Elliot, who was very popular as witchy Tracy Quartermaine on General Hospital. The City was the first hybrid created from a soap already on the air. The show is cancelled in 1997 due to poor ratings and its studio is used for a new ABC Barbara Walters talk show The View. The City 1995
The Rosie O’Donnell Show was hosted and produced by actress and comedian Rosie O’Donnell for six seasons. The show premiered in June of1996 and proved successful. Early on, Rosie was dubbed “The Queen of Nice” by Newsweek Magazine for her sweet personality which is a stark contrast to many other talk shows of the era. The program was also known for featuring extended production numbers from Broadway shows which were often seen as too time consuming on other shows. Rosie’s studio was housed in New York City. Broadway was not the only aspect of New York culture highlighted on The Rosie O’Donnell Show. New York had a great number of soap opera studios scattered around the city as well. Rosie was an ABC soap fan and was the first mainstream talk show to feature soap stars on a regular basis. Ryan’s Hope was Rosie’s favorite daytime soap. Her uncontainable excitement was obvious during an interview with Kate Mulgrew from the Star Trek franchise. Mulgrew played Mary Ryan on Ryan’s Hope at the height of its popularity. Ryan’s Hope was a serial revolving around an Irish Catholic family living in New York. Rosie herself grew up in an Irish Catholic family in New York. Rosie said during the interview, “Can I tell you something? I never watched Loving because I blamed Loving, because Loving took your spot...remember it was Ryan's Hope, All My Children, One Life to Live, General Hospital. It was a great line-up then Loving had to stick their nose in it”. Rosie’s excitement over daytime shows lead to her cameo role on All My Children as Naomi the maid. The Rosie O’Donnell Show 1996
With the cancellation of The City, a General Hospital spin-off Port Charles was slipped into its place, ABC had empty New York studio. Barbara Walters’ The View was given the green light and the newly vacant studio. Most of the sets were left over from The City. The View settled into its new home on ABC Daytime. The show premiered with four co-hosts: Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulos, Joy Behar. The panel expands to five when Barbara Walters joined in. Bill Geddie, the co-executive producer, is the lone recurring male persona sometimes shown as stepping out from behind the camera to interact with the hosts. A New York Times review published ten days after the show premiered, describes Caryn James thoughts about the show, “The idea women talking to one another on daytime television is not exactly radical. The idea that those women should be smart and accomplished is still odd enough to make The View seem wildly different. It actively defies the bubbleheads-R-us approach to women’s talk shows”. Star Jones, an attorney, was hired for her work as a legal analyst reporter, during the O.J. Simpson Trial.
The View 1997 Port Charles is created in June 1997 as a spin-off of General Hospital. The new show featured longtime General Hospital characters Lucy Coe, Kevin Collins, and Scott Baldwin, along with several new characters, most of whom were interns in a competitive medical program. As the show evolved, it turned its focus to stories with gothic intrigue the included themes such as forbidden love, vampires and life after death, somewhat similar to Dark Shadows which also aired on ABC. With the success of Latin Telenovelas, Port Charles abandoned the basic open-ended writing style used in all other daytime dramas for storylines with 13-week archs. It also allowed the cast, crew, and writing staff to only work six months out of the year. Port Charles 1997 Sunset Beach is created by Aaron Spelling for NBC in 1997. The show follows the loves and lives of the people in the fictional coastal city named Sunset Beach. Sunset Beach was created in an attempt to rebuild the NBC Daytime line up and target the younger audience. It was the first daytime soap opera produced by Aaron Spelling. Before getting cancelled, the show was renewed twice, but failed to grab the show’s audience.
Sunset Beach 1997 Aaron Spelling and writer Constance M. Burge created Charmed for The WB Television Network in 1998. The series follows three sisters who are the most powerful witches of all time, known as “The Charmed Ones” in the supernatural community whose destiny is to protect the innocent lives against evil beings such as demons and warlocks. Each sister possesses individual unique magical powers that grow and evolve, while they attempt to hold normal lives in modern day San Francisco. The Warner Brothers network was looking to expand on the popularity of supernatural themed Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Charmed was one of the longest running hour-long series featuring all female leads. Charmed was continued in comic book form, with the storyline picking up eighteen months after the end of the series finale, and features the long awaited return of Prue. Charmed 1998 Monica Lewinsky admitted to having an “improper relationship” with President Bill Clinton while she worked at the White House from 1995-1996. The affair and its repercussions, which included Clinton’s impeachment, became known as the Lewinsky scandal. Lewinsky alleged that she had nine sexual encounters with then-President Bill Clinton. Clinton previously had been confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct during his time as Governor of Arkansas. Former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones alleging that he sexually harassed her. Lewinsky confided in a co-worker named Linda Tripp about her relationship with the President. Tripp began secretly recording their telephone conversations regarding the affair with Clinton. News of the Clinton–Lewinsky relationship broke in January 1998.
Hillary Clinton, President Clinton’s wife, issued a public statement reaffirming her commitment to their marriage, but privately was reported to be furious at him and was unsure if she wanted to stay in the marriage. There was a variety of public reactions to Hillary Clinton after this: some women admired her strength and poise in private matters made public, some sympathized with her as a victim of her husband’s insensitive behavior, other criticized her as being an enabler to her husband’s indiscretions. Her public approval ratings in the wake of the revelations show upward to around 70 percent, the highest they had ever been. This stand-by-your-man story played out on a public stage unlike any scandal before. The media echo system was changing. The new climate of reality television, tabloid talk shows, and frenzied media coverage of scandals was taking its toll on soap operas. Stand-By-Your-Man 1998
Dawson’s Creek is a teenage soap opera created by Kevin Williamson and produced by Sony Pictures Television, the same company which produces Days Of Our Lives and ratings powerhouse The Young and The Restless. It debuted on January 20 1998. The show portrays the fictional lives of a close-knit group of teenagers through high school and college. The program, part of a new craze for teen-themed movies and television shows in America in the late 1990s, catapulted its leads to stardom and became a defining show for The WB. Dawson’s Creek was shot like a motion picture using a single camera and often filmed on location, rather than being largely studio bound. Dawson’s Creek generated a high amount of publicity before the debut, with several critics and consumer watchdog groups expressing concerns about its racy plots and dialogue. John Kiesewetter, television columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote, “As much as I want to love the show-the cool kids, charming New England setting, and stunning cinematography-I can’t get past the consuming preoccupation with sex, sex, sex”. Dawson’s Creek 1998
Rosie O’Donnell paid constant homage to the stars of daytime soap operas on her wildly popular talk show In the 1990’s, primetime sitcoms put soaps into mainstream media like never before. On the hit NBC sitcom Friends, series regular Matt LeBlanc’s Joey Tribbiani was cast on Day Of Our Lives as “Dr. Drake Ramoray” on the show, and despite Joey living in New York when Days of Our Lives is shot in California. Real-life cast members from Days of Our Lives had guest appearances.
Roseanne Barr was also a huge fan of ABC daytime. She watched ABC soaps during her time as a real housewife of Utah. Her springboard to fame was her stand-up routine complaining about being an American housewife. In the episode “Isn’t It Romantic?”, guest stars from the soap opera One Life To Live appear as their characters: John Loprieno as Cord Roberts, Clint Ritchie as Clint Buchanan, and Robert Woods as Bo Buchanan. In another episode Suck Up or Shut Up", Genie Francis and Anthony Geary are guest stars playing Luke and Laura. Soaps Operas hit the mainstream…
In an effort to attract younger views to its daytime line-up, NBC puts Passions on the air. Passions follows the lives and loves, and various romantic and paranormal adventures of the residents of Harmony. Storylines center around the interactions among members of its multi-racial core families, the African American Russells, the half Mexican half Irish Lopez-Fitzgeralds, as well as the supernatural town witch Tabitha Lenox. James E. Reilly, writer of Days Of Our Lives most outrageous plots, such as Marlena’s devil possession, added other supernatural elements to the show such as witches, warlocks, and doll-brought-to-life. Passions 1999
Susan Lucci wins an Emmy Award for best actress after 19 straight years for being nominated for her portrayal of Erica Kane. Lucci has played Erica Kane for decades. The character was married no fewer than 11 times to eight different men, had several children and grandchildren, was kidnapped, survived a plane crash and car accident, battled drug addiction and became the owner of her own cosmetics company. By 1991 Erica Kane was, according to TV Guide, “unequivocally the most famous soap-opera character in the history of TV”. As reported by the New York Times, Lucci at that time was the highest-paid actor on daytime television, earning more than $1 million per year for her work on All My Children. Lucci was the favorite to win that May night in 1999. Lucci’s emotional acceptance speech brought tears to the eyes of many in the crowd. After thanking her husband, Helmut Huber, the All My Children cast and crew and her fans, Lucci closed her speech by announcing “I’m going to go back to that studio Monday and I’m going to play Erica Kane for all she’s worth.” “The streak is over” The new Millennia introduced the United States to all sorts of unimaginable changes. The Year 2000 problem also known as Y2K was the top story. There was a pending problem for both digital (computer-related) and non-digital documentation and data storage situations which resulted from the practice of abbreviating a four-digit year to two digits. This caused some date-related processing to operate incorrectly for dates and times after January 1, 2000. Some programmers had misunderstood the rule that although years that are exactly divisible by 100 are not leap years, if they are divisible by 400then they are. Companies and organizations worldwide checked, fixed and upgraded their computer systems. George W. Bush was elected at the end of 2000. He beat Al Gore with fewer nationwide votes and won the election by winning the electoral votes of 271 to Gore’s 266. The New Millemium
2000-President-Elect George W. Bush appoints several African-Americans to his cabinet:
Colin Powell will serve as Secretary of State and Condoleezza Rice as Foreign Policy Adviser
2001-September 11-Islamic fundamentalist terrorists hijack four U.S. airliners and crash them into the Pentagon and the World trade Center.
2003 -Saddam Hussein, former leader of Iraq, is captured in a small bunker in Tikrit.
2002-Halle Berry becomes the first African-American woman to win an Academy Award for best actress.
2004-The southeast Asian tsunami occurs following a 9.3 Richter scale earthquake in the Indian Ocean.
2005-Condoleezza Rice was sworn in as Secretary of State.
-Hurricane Katrina hit the southern coast of the United States
2007-The first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi is sworn in.
2008-John McCain chooses Sarah Palin as his running mate.
-Barack Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States and the first black U.S. president.
2009-The economic recession continues to deepen as jobless claims climb.
2010-Kathryn Bigelow becomes the first woman ever to win an Academy Award as best director.
Disney-ABC Television launches SOAPnet in 2000. SOAPnet broadcasts current and past daytime and primetime soap operas. SOAPnet’s line up aired All My Children, One Life To Live, Days of Our Lives, The Young and The Restless and canceled shows such as Falcon Crest, Knots Landing, Sisters and Ryan’s Hope. As the years went on, SOAPnet’s original program Soap Talk has been nominated for Daytime Emmy awards for best talk show hosts Lisa Rinna and Ty Treadway. 2000- Computers continue to work and the world doesn’t come to an end January 1st. AOL acquires Time Warner and becomes AOL Time Warner.
Microsoft Windows 2000 is released. Google announces it has indexed over 1 billion pages making it the Internet’s largest search engine.
2001-Wikipedia is founded. Microsoft releases Internet Explorer 6.0. Dell computers become the largest PC maker. Airlines begin to implement methods of gaining Internet access while flying. Microsoft releases original Xbox game console.
2003-Apple adds iTunes support for Microsoft Windows computers. MySpace official site is launched.
2004-Mark Zuckerberg launches Thefacebook, which later becomes Facebook.
2005-Google Maps is launched. YouTube is founded. Pandora Internet Radio service is launched.
2006-Twitter is founded.
2007- Apple introduces the iPhone.
2009-Facebook overtakes MySpace in Internet traffic.
2012-YouTube breaks an Internet record as over 8 million live viewers. Advances in computers change the game of the media… Following the primetime success of the Regis Philbin hosted game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, ABC creates a daytime version hosted by The View’s Meredith Vieira. The show began airing on September 2002. The half hour soap Port Charles is cancelled and replaced by Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. This is the beginning of a trend of replacing daytime dramas with game shows. Trend begins in replacing soap operas with game shows…. Desperate Housewives is created for ABC by Marc Cherry, a former writer for The Golden Girls. The show, set in the fictional American town of Wisteria Lane, follows the lives of a group of women seen through the eyes of their dead neighbor who committed suicide in the very first episode. They work through domestic struggles and family life, while facing secrets, crimes and mysteries hidden behind the doors of their beautiful and seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood. Marc Cherry declared the new show to be a mix of Knots Landing and American Beauty. Four of the shows leads had ties to soap operas. Marcia Cross came from Melrose Place. Eva Longoria played a psycho on The Young and The Restless. Teri Hatcher starred as a soap actress in the movie Soapdish. Nicolette Sheridan was in the cast of Knots Landing.
Despite critical acclaim One Life To Live received for the storyline of a gay teenager coming to terms with his sexuality, the characters in soap operas were for the most part heterosexual. The wild success of NBC’s sitcom Will & Grace showed studio heads, the lucrative way to alternative programming. Ryan Philippe's character Billy was not the first gay character on soaps. The primetime soap operas Dynasty and Melrose Place had openly gay characters in the main cast. Passions’ Chad began the show seemingly straight, but was revealed as bisexual or possibly just gay, an aspect he hates. The Young and The Restless’ Phillip Chancellor III came out to his Iraq war soldier son. All My Children’s Bianca came out to her mother Erica Kane and married a woman in front of loving friends and family. Ratings rose nearly half a percentage point when the couple shared daytime’s first lesbian kiss. Days Of Our Lives Dr. Marlena Evans’ teenage grandson Will came out to her in a drama filled revelation. Soap Operas take on the Gays….
As gay characters are slowly being folded into daytime soaps, cable television is takes a bold leap into the gay market, the untapped resource. Cable television cashes in big avoiding the censorship on regular network television. Logo TV is launched in 2005. The channel’s programming is a blend of movies with gay themes, reality television, dating shows, documentaries and syndicated programs with gay characters or gay interest. Noah’s Arc was developed focused on gay African-American and Latino characters. The characters dealt with socially relevant issues, including same sex dating, HIV and AIDS awareness, infidelity, promiscuity, and homophobia. Showtime developed Queer as Folk with former producers of the NBC show Sisters. Based on a British series, Queer as Folk portrayed the lives of gay men and women. The show drew strong ratings for Showtime Following the success of Queer as Folk, Showtime created The L Word. The L Word followed the lives of a group of lesbians and lovers in the trendy city of West Hollywood. Commercial-free television is stealing viewers from network television in record numbers. Cable creates gay soap operas…
HBO created The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Big Love, True Blood and Game of Thrones. The Sopranos was a show about the lives and loves of a mafia crime family. Six Feet Under depicts members of the Fisher family who run their funeral home in Los Angeles, California. Acclaimed film director Alan Ball created this show. Produced by Tom Hanks, Big Love is about a fictional fundamentalist Mormon family in Utah that practices polygamy. After a successful run with Six Feet Under, Alan Ball followed up with True Blood based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries novels detailing the co-existence of vampires and humans in small-town Louisiana. Game of Thrones is a fantasy series that follow the members of several noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms. Showtime hit ratings gold with The Tudors, a fictional television series named after the Tudor dynasty loosely based on the reign of King Henry VIII of England. The series proved its mettle opener in the digital realm, earning a combined 1 million views online and through Sho.com and such partners as Yahoo, MSN, and Netflix. AMC created Mad Men, a show set in the 1960’s at the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency in New York City. Cable networks are free from the censorships that confine network television. Cable networks are drawing A-List Hollywood talent to their projects. Cable TV disguises soap operas as edgy themed dramas… The Writers’ Strike was a strike by the Writers Guild of America, East & West. Labor unions which represent film, television, and radio writers working in the United States went on strike from November 5, 2007-February 12,2008. The strike sought increased monetary compensation for the writers comparison to the profits of larger studios. The guilds were on strike for 14 weeks and two days. According to National Public Radio, the strike cost the economy of Los Angeles an estimated $1.5 billion. One of the critical issues for negotiations was residuals from “new media”, or compensation for delivery channels such as Internet downloads, streaming, smart phone programming, straight-to-internet content, and on-demand on cable and satellite television. Because production ceased for all scripted television programming, hundreds of thousands of support staff were laid off by studios. Nielsen Media Research stated on April 2, 2008 showed that most television viewers spent more time around alternative forms of entertainment outside of broadcast television. The Writer’s Strike cause a surge in networks ordering a record number of reality shows. The strike hit soaps the hardest. The Writers Strike
Bryan Beottger wrote an online article Pro Wrestling: The Male Soap Opera. The article examines the similarities between soap operas and professional wrestling. According to Beottger there has been a controversy of much chagrin between the sexes. “Males refuse to allow soap operas on television during the daytime and females refuse to allow professional wrestling on during the nighttime. These two types of shows fill the same role for their perspective gender fan base. Soap operas follow the same story line: - Person A is bad/good and with person B. - Person A stabs person B in the back. - Person A becomes good/bad and hooks up with person C. - Person A eventually turns back to the bad/good side and gets back together with person B. - Person C vows vengeance on persons A and B. Fans have a fierce devotion to the characters of their favorite shows. In fact, it is very much like any real relationship. If a character leaves (switches shows or leagues), fans hold a deep resentment for that person. However, like in any sick and twisted relationship, fans yearn for connection with the betrayer and searches the betrayer out (fans watch the other show or league). For some strange and indiscernible reason, viewers of both soap operas and wrestling seem to think the action on the small screen is real. The fans deny this, but you simply need to watch their actions for proof. Grown men cringe in pain when Brett "the hitman" Heart is delivered a low-blow by the undertaker. Women cried out in horror when Janet pushed her sister Natalie down a well and rats started gnawing on her toes. One of the most striking similarities in the fans is their willingness to completely turn on the show they once loved. Not only will they refuse to watch the programs, but they will sometimes even deny that they ever watched it in the first place. Almost like a drug, the fans know that if they return to the evil, they will get hooked again.” Pro Wrestling: The Male Soap Opera
Grey’s Anatomy, a mid-season replacement, was created for ABC by Shonda Rhimes in 2005. The medical soap opera focuses on the fictional lives of surgical interns and residents, as they gradually evolve into seasoned doctors, while trying to maintain personal lives. The series was created to be racially diverse, utilizing a color-blind casting technique. This type of casting is unique in the world of soap operas. People-of-color are usually supporting characters. Grey's Anatomy is the highest-rated drama in the key 18-49 demographic. Shonda Rhimes wanted to make a show that she would enjoy watching, and thought it would be interesting to create a show about “smart women competing against one another”. Rhimes said of the women portrayed on television before her show made it to the air, “I wanted to create a world in which you felt as if you were watching real women. Most of the women I saw on TV didn’t seem like people I actually knew. Female roles in particular were not developed as multi-faceted characters. A spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy came shortly after. Private Practice chronicles the life of Dr. Addison Montgomery, played by Kate Walsh, as she leaves Seattle Grace Hospital (Grey’s Anatomy’s hospital), to join a private practice in Los Angeles. Private Practice became a hit for ABC, unlike what Dynasty tried to accomplish many years ago with spinning off with The Colbys. A show targeted at women with strong intelligent characters speaks to the soap opera’s coveted demographic of 18-49. Shonda Rhimes Ugly Betty is developed for American television for ABC in 2006. Salma Hayek served as executive producer. The show is based on a Columbian telenovela soap opera Yo Soy Betty le fea. The show revolved around Latina ugly duckling Betty who landed a job as assistant to the editor for fictional Mode Magazine in New York City. The shuffling of the show dropped the ratings significantly by the show’s third season, particularly in the important 18-49 age group. In an effort to save high production cost, the show was moved to New York City to take advantage of on-location shooting. This show was groundbreaking in the prominent presence of Hispanic characters. Gay awareness groups like GLAAD have also noted the positive impact the show has had regarding Betty's teenaged nephew Justin, who realizes that he is gay. This was the first time a commercial success came to an American soap opera borrowed its concept from wildly popular telenovelas. Daytime tried and failed years earlier with Port Charles. Ugly Betty 2006
Susan Lucci, at the height of her career, made a fortune playing Erica Kane. Soap opera actors are forced to take pay cuts in order to save production costs and jobs. Reality stars seem to get rich on being famous for being famous. Paris Hilton, a former model and socialite gets her own reality show in 2003 The Simple Life. The show was a massive hit for FOX, premiering with 13 million viewers, and brought international recognition for Paris. She became a daily fixture in the entertainment news; gossip-section Page Six of the New York Post. She has parlayed her media fame into a fashion line and various perfumes with her celebrity endorsement. Her fragrances have reportedly earned $1.5 billion. Kim Kardashian became a reality superstar with her show Keeping Up With The Kardashians in 2007. The show follows the lives of the Kardashian family including her sisters Kourtney and Khloe’. In the first season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kim earned $15,000 per episode. Her salary is now increased to $40,000 per episode. The series’ success has led to three spin-offs: Kourtney and Kim Take New York, Khloe’ & Lamar and Kourtney and Kim Take Miami. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was cast on MTV’s new reality show Jersey Shore in 2009. Snooki’s popularity of the first season of Jersey Shore, which earned her $5,000 per episode, now earns $30,000 per episode. While shooting in Seaside Heights, Snooki was punched in the face by a New York City school gym teacher. The punch went viral on YouTube and was featured in many news media. After the punch went public, Snooki’s appearance fees increased from $2,000 per event to $10,000 per event. Soap stars take pay cuts, while reality stars earn big…
The role of the American mothers have changed drastically since the days of stay-at-home housewives. ABC would cast American housewives as desperate. The declining economy has caused American women to adapt in unexpected ways. Reality stars have taken over television. TLC launched John & Kate Plus 8 and Sister Wives. John & Kate Plus 8 follows the lives of the Gosselin family, consisting of parents Jon and Kate and their eight children: fraternal twins and sextuplets, focusing on the challenges of raising multiple children. Ratings peaked at 9.8 million viewers. The divorce of the couple played out like a soap opera in the tabloid press. Sister Wives documents the life of a polygamist family of patriarch Kody Brown, his four wives and their 17 children. The Browns participated with the show to make the public more aware of polygamist families and to combat societal prejudices. The cable network Showtime introduced two half hour dramaties Weeds and Steven Spielberg produced The United States of Tara. Weeds shows the life of widowed mother Nancy who begins selling marijuana to support her family after her husband dies suddenly of a heart attack. In its first year, Weeds was the highest rated series for Showtime. Its fourth season premiere attracted 1.3 million viewers to Showtime, the channel’s highest-ever viewership. The United States of Tara followed the life of Tara, a suburban housewife and mother coping with Dissociative Identity Disorder. When stressed, Tara often transitions into one of her alternate personalities: wild and flirty teenager “T”, 1950’s housewife Alice and a loud, beer drinking male Vietnam vet Buck. Daytime dramas are no stranger to tackling DID. One Life To Live has been putting Victoria Lord through the paces for years. The difference is, the role of Nancy on Weeds is played by Mary-Louise Parker and Tara is played by Toni Collette, both are actresses from A-list films. American Motherhood changes on TV… The Real Housewives is a reality series on the cable network Bravo. The show follows the lives of relatively affluent, bourgeois housewives and professional women in suburban or urban areas of several American cities, with the suffix of the title taking on the metropolitan region. The series base concept and name are provided by the ABC primetime soap Desperate Housewives. The Real Housewives feature women that live in their perspective regions, but still are close friends or in overlapping social circles. Despite its name, only some of the housewives are married. As seasons progress, a mixed group of divorcees and single mothers are introduced. The show has also included serious and more realistic issues, involving suicide, divorce, broken relationships, bankruptcy, infidelity, family feuding, alcoholism, eviction, deadbeat dads, and foreclosures. There are currently six versions of the series following women in Orange County, New York City, Atlanta, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, and Miami. Two of the “Real Housewives” of Beverly Hills cast members are Paris Hilton’s aunts. Reality show stars' salaries grow, as soap stars take massive pay cuts. “Real Housewives” By 2006 DVRs have grown in record numbers. Digital Video Recorders (DVR) are a consumer electronic device that records in a digital format to a disk drive, USB flash drive, memory card or other local networked mass storage device. A television set with built-in digital video-recording facilities was introduced by LG in 2007, followed by other manufacturers. DVRs revolutionized television viewing. As with VCRs before them, Nielsen ratings are not taken into account with DVR recorded shows. This spells trouble for soap opera fans who record their favorite shows and watch them at their leisure. DVR Soaps struggle to gain back the audiences they are loosing fast. Reality and cable shows are giving audiences the thrills that soap operas did in their hey day. Days of Our Lives tries to recapture the ratings they once had with the Devil possession storyline and put Deidre Hall through the ringer with outrageous storylines that tabloids are made of. Hall’s alter ego Dr. Marlena Evans was used as a surrogate mother for genetically engineered babies during a four year coma; being mind-controlled to believe she was a serial killer and has been kidnapped numerous times over the past 30 years.
Soap Operas resort to stunt casting. Joan Collins of Dynasty fame has a short stint as Guiding Light’s Alexandra Spaulding. Ted Shackelford and Joan Van Ark, who played Gary and Val Ewing on Knots Landing, are worked into The Young and The Restless landscape. The Bold and The Beautiful cast beloved television actress Betty White. White played Anne Douglas mother of matriarch Stephanie Forrester until her character passes away due to complications with advanced pancreatic cancer. Legendary comedienne Phyllis Diller played a zany seamstress for Forrester Creations on The Bold and The Beautiful for many years right up to her recent death. Soaps are grasping to stay on the air… Proctor & Gamble initially announced that they would attempt to find another outlet to distribute the show, but later admitted they were unsuccessful in doing so, Guiding Light went off the air September 2009. Proctor & Gamble built an $82.6 billion empire on the back of Guiding Light after 57 years on television preceded by 15 years on radio, for a total broadcast history of 72 years. The final episode was upbeat, featuring many of the characters gathering in the park for a large picnic. The final episode included the original tag line, with some revision, printed on the screen with the words “There is a destiny that makes us FAMILY”. The show’s solid performance began to crumble by the mid-1990s, when the shows ratings sunk as low as eight place out of eleven. However, during the controversial clone storyline in 1998 the ratings spiked. Until its finale in 2009, affiliate stations aired Guiding Light in the morning either at 9 or 10 am. Two CBS affiliates did not air Guiding Light at all. 60 Minutes featured a segment of the cast and crew of Guiding Light discussing the show and its eventual cancellation. Proctor & Gamble fired the first shot in an all out blood bath in soaps. Guiding Light is replaced with a revamped version of the game show Let’s Make A Deal hosted by Wayne Brady. Proctor & Gamble does the unthinkable…
Breaking into soap operas can be a tough process. A newcomer can earn around $700 per episode or even much less. All soap actors are guaranteed 1-3 days of work per week. The longer they are on the show, the more money the actors make per episode. Once a newcomer has been on the show for a while, they can make from $700 - $1500 per episode. Soap stars who have been around for 5-10 years can make $1500-$3000 per episode, also factoring in how popular they are with the fans, and what major storylines they may be involved with. For veterans in the business 10 plus years, the range is upwards from $5000. Anthony Geary who plays Luke on General Hospital, and Susan Lucci who plays Erica Kane on All My Children are in the 7-10 million per year. That is a large sum of money to shell out when the return is so considerably less for the networks. In an effort to try to save the current shows on the air, the networks start cutting veteran actors from their cast. They follow the trends in blindly pursuing the youth demographic 18-49. The actors who remain are forced to take significant ongoing pay cuts. Days Of Our Lives did the unthinkable and fired the shows biggest star Diedre Hall. Other big names simply walked from the shows that have been home for decades. Veteran soap actors “are” the show to most soap fans. A drop in advertising revenue during the economic crisis has worsened a plight daytime dramas have faced for more than a decade: audience erosion. After being pre-empted for much of 1995 while networks carried coverage of the O.J. Simpson murder trial, soaps never regained their former loyalty from viewers. Budget cuts hit soaps hard… Proctor & Gamble ripped the Band-Aid off an inevitable wound to the daytime community in cancelling As The World Turns in 2010, replacing it with The Talk, a talk show modeled after ABC’s The View. As The World Turns was the first daytime drama to expand to 30 minutes, and eventually to 60 minutes. By 1958 the show was the number one daytime drama in the United States until 1978. The show has won four Daytime Emmys in Outstanding Daytime Drama Series. As The World Turns has the distinction of being the last regular broadcast during the assassination and funeral of JFK and the transition of power to President Lyndon B. Johnson took center stage. It was on the air during the great ad campaign Daisy: Peace Little Girl forever changing the business of making simple commercials. Commercials are detrimental to soap operas since day one. In 2006, CBS launched a reality show called In Turn on their broadband channel innertube, the winner of which would go on to receive a 13-week acting contract on As The World Turns. Another one bites the dust… The show pairs a number of well known celebrities with professional ballroom dancers, who each week compete by performing one or more choreographed routines that follow the chosen theme for that particular weeks' prearranged theme. The dancers are then scored by a panel of judges. Viewers are given a certain amount of time to place votes for their favorite dancers, either by telephone or (in some countries) online. The couple with the lowest combined score provided by the judges and viewers is eliminated. This process continues until there are only two or three couples left; when they have competed for the last time one couple is declared the champion. Dancing With The Stars has had its fair share of soap opera stars. The first winner of the first season was Kelly Monaco of General Hospital. In the first ever season of Dancing With The Stars All-stars, Kelly finished third. All My Children’s JR Martinez, a real life veteran of Iraq who was severely burned in combat, won the season he was on. The show casts soap operas stars for their fan base. Large fan bases are an important element for remaining in the competition. Susan Lucci herself strapped on her dancing shoes and competed. Dancing With The Stars ABC moved All My Children out of New York after 39 years in their Manhattan studios to cut operating costs. The soap was moved to Los Angeles. One Life To Live relocated to All My Children’s former studio. Both soaps will now be broadcast in high-definition. Brian Frons, head of ABC Daytime said in a statement, “All My Children is one of the most recognizable brands in television, and we are committed to continue telling and enhancing stories of the residents of Pine Valley. The move to Los Angeles enables both All My Children and One Life To Live to dramatically improve the series production models and achieve significant efficiencies while enhancing the show. We had to examine every option on the table to combat the current economic realities, and rising costs of production.” All My Children’s big move coincided with the show’s 40th anniversary. A month later, the show was broadcast in high-definition. The Los Angeles studio space is twice as large as its New York studio, allowing construction of permanent sets. The New York studio constraints forced production to dismantle sets daily. Series creator Agnes Nixon commented on the move, “While I will miss being able to run over to the show. It feels like I am sending one of my children off to be married. I am glad the network is making moves that will enable the team to continue telling stories about Pine Valley.” The Big Move Respected film actor James Franco was doing research for a film project. In 2009, he contacted the ABC soap General Hospital for help. The show accommodated Franco’s request in creating a role especially for him. Franco told the Hollywood Reporter of the role, “All I said was I wanted to be an artist and I wanted to be crazy.” He joined the cast of General Hospital on a recurring basis. He plays Franco, a multimedia artist much like himself, comes to Port Charles with unfinished business with mob enforcer Jason Morgan. General Hospital executive producer Jill Farren Phelps said of Franco, “it is an honor that an actor of Franco’s caliber would choose to spend some of his valuable time in Port Charles.” General Hospital has made room for movie actors interested in joining their show in the past. Elizabeth Taylor was hired as super villain Helena Cassadine during the Luke and Laura craze in the 1980s. Hollywood checks back into General Hospital…
Venice is a web soap opera series and the new creative concept of Crystal Chappell, star of several network soap operas. Venice developed from Chappell’s commitment to portray strong, decisive, and real characters; simultaneously maintaining creative control, which is often lacking in traditional television broadcasts. Venice is the first serial that bridges the gap between many worlds, it unifies the gay and straight worlds, people-of-color with multi-ethnic groups. Viewers will be led through a suspenseful voyage laid out in a series of webisodes: accompanied by interactive social networking on the Venice website, Twitter, and Facebook. The Bay premiered on-line on Blip TV in 6-10 minute webisodes. Each season consists of 4 chapters. Each chapter consists of 4 webisodes. Filled with sex, lies and scandals, The Bay follows the life of a wealthy socialite Sara Garrett, played by Mary Beth Evans of Days Of Our Lives, her family , and the people around them who share in the tangled we spun by ill-fated choices. With an impressive cast of iconic Daytime and Primetime television stars, and stunning cinematography, The Bay raises the bar for dramatic serialized storytelling. The stories, combined with their talents, succeed in captivating the viewer's emotions and devotion. Produced on a budget considered less than shoe-string, The Bay has surpassed expectations and succeeded in garnering a large and dedicated fan base. Tatyana Ali was best known for her childhood role as Ashley Banks on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She has a recurring role as Roxanne on The Young and The Restless. She is also producing and starring in a web show for the BET cable network, Buppies. The online definition of the word Buppie: a young Black city or suburban resident with a well-paid professional job and an affluent lifestyle. The series centers on Quinci, the socialite daughter of a Hollywood celebrity. Soaps on the web Hot in Cleveland is created for the cable network TV Land. The sitcom is the network’s first scripted series starring Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leaves, Wendy Malick, and Betty White. Wendy Malick plays Victoria Chase, a five-time-divorced, Emmy Award winning soap opera star whose 27 year run is ended on the fictional show, Edge of Tomorrow, after the show is cancelled, leaving her to lament her only career opportunities playing Megan Fox’s grandmother and promoting adult underpants in Japan. Victoria is a sworn enemy of Susan Lucci. Lucci played a fictionalized version of herself on the show. Hot In Cleveland 2010 The Monica Lewinsky scandal in the 1990s renewed America’s old fascination with scandals. In 2008 the scandal of Governor and former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer broke. Spitzer had at least seven or eight liaisons with women from high-priced prostitution service call Emperors Club VIP. He met with a $1,000-an-hour call girl. According to published reports, investigators believe Spitzer paid up to $80,000 for prostitutes over a period of several years. Tiger woods admitted to several transgressions after The National Enquirer published a story claiming extramarital affairs. In the days and months following Woods’ admission of infidelity, several companies ended sponsorship deals. Tiger’s wife Elin divorced him immediately and was awarded a large settlement. Mrs. Woods did not stand-by-her-man. New primetime soap operas take a stab at storylines ripped right out of the tabloid headlines. The Good Wife is created on CBS in 2009. A soap opera, disguised as a legal drama focuses on Alicia Florrick, played by Julianna Margulies, whose husband, a former state’s attorney had been jailed following a public sex corruption scandal. The series is partly inspired by the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, and political sex scandals of John Edwards and Bill Clinton. Famed legendary film director Ridley Scott serves as executive producer. Scandal is created for ABC by Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy. The show’s lead Kerry Washington’s character, Olivia Pope, is based on former George Bush administration press aide Judy Smith, who serves as co-executive producer. The show takes place in Washington, D.C. and focuses on Olivia Pope’s crisis management firm. In a review of the show in Newsday, Verne Gay said of the series, “All the clichés and soap conventions series creator Shonda Rhimes has poured generously into Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice over the years have poured right back into this pot boiler.” Ripped from the headlines… Disney purchased the cable network The Family Channel in 2001, the channel offered programming featuring series and movies aimed at teenage girls and young women between ages 15-30, soap operas coveted audience. In August 2006, an all-new slogan and visual style premiered on ABC Family: A New Kind of Family. Record breaking ratings came to the network with its premiere of its teenage soap opera The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Brat Pack actress Molly Ringwald played the main character’s mother. The show was well received by female and teenage viewers. The record was broken again with Switched at Birth premiering to 3.3 million viewers. Switched at Birth revolves around two teenagers who were switched at birth and grew up in very different environments. Vanessa Marano, who plays one of the teens Bay Kennish, had just left The Young and The Restless before being cast. The premiere of the ABC Family original drama series Pretty Little Liars successfully broke series premiere ratings for ABC Family, across all major viewing demographics of women and young people. Ashley Benson who plays Hanna Marin on Pretty Little Liars is best known for her role as Abby Deveraux on Days Of Our Lives. As soap operas are losing their audience to cable networks, the new brand of teen dramas continue to hire former soap stars, and steal their audience. ABC Family The new network The CW re-launched a re-booted version of Beverly Hills 90210. Shortened to just 90210, the series revolves around several students at the fictional West Beverly Hills High School. The mixed reviews of the show almost caused its cancellation, until DVR ratings for the series have doubled its broadcast ratings. Several cast members from the original cast of Beverly Hills 90210 were added to the show as teachers and mentors of the younger set. The spin-off covered the same themes-family, friends, teen melodrama, relationships-but with more humor. The CW tried and failed to do the same re-launch with Melrose Place.
The cable network TNT launched its series continuation of Dallas from the CBS primetime soap opera. The series focuses mainly on John Ross Ewing III and Christopher Ewing, the adult sons of J.R. and Bobby. Alongside John Ross and Christopher, original series characters Bobby, J.R. and Sue Ellen return in full capacity for the new series. The new series is a continuation of the old series following a 20-year break, during which the characters and their relationships continued unseen until today. Rebooted & Revamped Revenge is a soap opera on ABC starring film actress Madeleine Stowe and Emily Van Camp. Emily comes to the Hamptons for the summer to avenge her father, who was framed for a crime he did not commit. She is intent on getting revenge against those who wronged her and her father. Madeleine Stowe’s Victoria Grayson is at the top of that list. The pilot episode was screened early on ABC’s website during a promotional tie-in with Amazon Kindle. The show garnered a high 3.3 Nielsen rating in the all-important 18-49 age advertising demographics for its pilot episode. Madeleine Stowe was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a TV Drama. The series currently airs in 39 countries worldwide. Audiences celebrate the return of primetime soap operas in record numbers. America has spoken. Revenge 2011 Brian Frons first worked at CBS Daytime from1978-1983. He left CBS in 1983 to join NBC Daytime, where he stayed during the rest of 1980s as vice president. In 1986, he canceled Search for Tomorrow, which was at the time the longest running soap opera in television, but was also the lowest rated program in the 14 daytime dramas on the year that year. During his time at NBC, Frons also introduced Generations, the first and only soap opera to feature an African-American family from its inception. Frons joined ABC Daytime in 2002. In 2006 he was named president of the newly-created Daytime, Disney-ABC Television group. In his capacity as president of ABC Daytime, Frons was responsible for the development, marketing, production and promotion of all ABC Daytime properties, which included The View, Port Charles, All My Children, One Life To Live and General Hospital. In his new position, he took on the additional duties of overseeing SOAPnet and ABC Productions. During the tenure, soap operas General Hospital and Ally My Children switched to high-definition taping. On April 14, 2011, Frons announced the cancellation of All My Children and One Life To Live. While Frons made the announcement in person to the All My Children cast and crew in Los Angeles, the New York based One Life To Live was tuned in through a video link. All My Children ended its run on September 23, 2011, while One Life To Live concluded on January 13, 2012. As a result of the cancellations, Frons has been the subject of widespread criticism. He has been labeled as the most hated man among soap opera fans, with online petitions being made for his firing from ABC Daytime. All My Children and One Life To Live were replaced with two new talk shows The Chew and The Revolution. The Revolution was cancelled after six months on the air. SOAPnet is dropped in major markets and replaced by Disney Junior. On December 2, 2011, ABC Disney fired Frons. This announcement came the day after Frons terminated General Hospital executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and demoted head writer Garin Wolf. The soap opera serial killer Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark Consuelos were secretly married in real life, during their time playing super couple Haley and Mateo on All My Children. Together the couple produced a reality television series Dirty Soap on the E! cable channel. The hour –long series focuses on the personal and professional lives of daytime soap opera stars and their time off-screen. The show is canceled after only one season. Soaps continue to chase the success of reality shows. Reality Show? Although The Young and The Restless has been number 1 in the ratings for decades, it is rapidly losing viewers. In effort to grab viewers, the show’s head writer and executive producer Maria Arena Bell courts reality television. The character of Abby Newman was rapidly aged in 2010. Abby planned to start her own reality television show, entitled “The Naked Heiress”, but she didn’t have the money to fund her dream. After her parents refused to help her, Abby hired a lawyer to sue her parents for inheritance. Abby gains the funds to produce The Naked Heiress, and she made her debut by stripping at local hot spot GLoWorm. She is then arrested and thrown in jail for indecent exposure. The storyline had elements of Paris Hilton’s formula of being famous for being famous. In 2011 The Young and The Restless introduced the character of Angelina played by American Idol runner-up Diana DeGarmo. She played the daughter of a resident mobster Angelo. Her character was a terrible singer who was obsessed with gaining the affections of Kevin Fisher. The character was the epitome of a Jersey girl. America’s obsession with Snooki spilled into daytime. Neither story was well received by daytime fans of the show, and as a direct result, both actresses have been let go. If you can’t beat them… ABC’s shutting down of two of its long-running soaps All My Children and One Life To Live produced major upheavals in the publishing world. Source Interlink, which publishes soap titles Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly cuts staff and turns over the magazine’s operations to National Equirerer owner American Media Inc. on a licensing deal. No money is believed to have changed hands between the two publishers, both of which emerged from pre-packaged Chapter 11 filings. Soap fans can get their spoilers for free online on websites devoted to soaps, daytimeconfidential.com and soapcentral.com. There are only four remaining soap operas Days Of Our Lives, The Young and The Restless, The Bold and The Beautiful and General Hospital. At the genre’s peak in the 1970s, there were close to 20 soaps being broadcast in the US. Magazines face bankruptcy… Oprah Winfrey ended her long successful syndicated talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show in favor of starting her own The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in cable television. The programming is to include a mix of original programs, strips, specials, documentaries and acquired movies. During the first week after the launch in January 2011, OWN was watched by an average of 505,000 viewers. By July 2011, Winfrey announced she would take over as chief executive officer and chief creative officer of the channel. The average prime-time audience for 2011 was 264,000. The channel’s losses were estimated to be $330 million. Oprah leaves Daytime… When ABC announced it was cancelling the long running soap operas All My Children and One Life To Live, soap fans were up in arms and scrambled to find a way to save their beloved shows. The biggest target was trying to get Oprah Winfrey to put them on her OWN cable channel. Ms. Winfrey heard their pleas, but she explained, it just didn’t make sense financially for her network to bring those shows onto their roster. It seemed all hope was lost, until a surprising press release was sent out saying that both shows would be saved and would continue past their end dates on the Web. Media company named Prospect Park as acquiring the rights to both shows in an exclusive multi-year, multi-platform deal. Both properties are promised to be delivered with the same quality, format and length that they had on broadcast television. This came as a huge surprise, considering Web videos are typically kept fairly short in length. The concept may be foreign, but the genre has a long history of being leaders in breaking open new media platforms. Soap operas that moved from radio to television helped the outlet expand. Unfortunately the producers who acquired the rights announced that they could not make distribution deals or get concessions from Hollywood unions. The company had hoped the unions world accept lower wages for their members, as the shows were moving from TV to the Internet. But the two sides could not come to terms, Prospect Park said. Advertisers also were skeptical that enough viewers, particularly the loyal over-50 crowd, would watch online. The final decision was a gut-punch for soap opera fans. The two programs, created by Agnes Nixon, had been on the air for more than 40 years each. All My Children made a household name out of Susan Lucci. One Life To Live helped launch the careers of Tommy Lee Jones, Laurence Fishburne, Ryan Phillipe, and Marcia Cross. A glimmer of hope is gone…
Primetime shows continue to steal from soap operas and gain success riding on the backs of a beloved genre. The ABC primetime soap Revenge is ratings gold. Once again, networks create new soap operas disguised as edgy melodramas. Ryan Murphy created Glee for Fox focusing on the high school glee club competing on the show choir competitions circuit, while its members deal with relationships, sexuality and social issues. Glee features on-screen performance-based musical numbers that are a balance between show tunes and chart hits. Songs are released through the iTunes Store during the week of broadcast. The music of Glee has been a commercial success, with over $36 million digital sing sales. Following the success of Glee, Ryan Murphy created American Horror Story for the cable network FX. The show takes place in the present day and follows a family that moves into a restored mansion, unaware that the home is haunted by its former inhabitants. The second season, titled American Horror Story: Asylum, takes place in 1964 and follows the patients, doctors and nuns who occupy the institution for the criminally insane. The show is built around Jessica Lange, who won an academy award for playing a soap actress. The pilot episode gained 1.5 ratings share among adults aged 18-46 and garnered 3.2 million viewers, the best numbers FX has ever received for a series premiere. AMC, known for such edgy dramas as Mad Men and Breaking Bad, develop The Walking Dead, which is based on a comic book series. The show starts with a sheriff’s deputy, who awakens from a coma to find the world dominated by flesh-eating zombies. The series attained strong Nielsen ratings, beating various records for a cable series including receiving 10.9 million viewers for its season three premiere to become the most-watched cable drama telecast in history. ABC wants in on the action of creating unique dramas. Once Upon A Time is created by Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. The series takes place in the fictional seaside town of Storybrooke, Maine, in which the residents are actually characters from various fairy tales that were transported to the “real world” town by the Evil Queen, using a powerful curse obtained from Rumplestiltskin. Several feminist outlets were pleased with the show for its feminist twist on fairy tales. The pilot episode was watched by 13 million viewers and received a 4.0 rating in teens and adults 18-49. Not soap operas?....really? Downton Abbey is a British-American period soap opera produced for PBS. The series is set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey depicting the lives of aristocratic Crawley family and their servants after post-Edwardian era. The great events in history having affected the lives of British social hierarchy. Such events depicted throughout the whole series include the news of the sinking of the Titanic, outbreaks of World War I, and the Spanish influenza pandemic. Downton Abbey has received critical acclaim from television critics and has won numerous awards such as a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries. It was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011. The high melodramatic romantic plots are from any good soap opera recipe. It was also the most watched television series on both ITB and PBS, and subsequently became the most successful British costume drama series since 1981’s Brideshead Revisited. Former CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric is courted by ABC to create a syndicated talk show. Katie was to host and co-own the show and named former NBC Universal CEO and former executive producer of Today, Jeff Zucker as show runner. ABC announced intentions to relinquish to its affiliates the final four of its daytime programming line up 3-4pm. This timeslot has belonged to General Hospital for decades. The decision was made due to resistance from ABC affiliates to air Katie at 4pm because many of them expanded their local newscasts during the timeslot after The Oprah Winfrey Show went off the air. Couric and Zucker reportedly expressed concern to ABC executives about having The Revolution as a possible lead-in to Katie due to the program’s stagnant ratings and concerns of potential fan outcry should the launch of Katie result in the cancellation of General Hospital. ABC decided to keep General Hospital on the air, cancelled The Revolution, and moved General Hospital to 2pm. Oh Katie… As American Soap Operas Bust, Telenovelas Boom in the US. Telenovelas, those drama-soaked, tear-filled, roller coaster TV soap operas, were traditionally produced in Mexico, but Hispanic actors are increasingly flocking to sunny Florida to film them. Miami is being called the new Latin Tinsel town. Maria Morales, the executive editor of People en Espanol says, “A lot of them wanted to get away from the violence in their countries of origin-the Columbians, the Mexicans-and they found jobs in Miami. It just made sense. It was a marriage of opportunity with demand. Former Miss Mexico Blanco Soto, who stars in the hit telenovela El Talisman, is immediately recognized in Miami these days and gets mobbed by fans at restaurants and coffee shops. In the past telenovelas stars could not get the kind of traction in the US they had in Latin America, but demographics in the US are changing. Spanish speakers are the fastest growing population in the United States, with a growing market of second and third generation of Hispanic viewers. Univision, which broadcasts El Talisman, Eva Luna and many other popular telenovelas, is now the fourth top network in the US. About 10 million people watched the Eva Luna finale last April. Stories about telenovela stars comprise up to 50% of People en Espanol, which has a circulation of 6.5 million, compared to roughly 3.5 million circulation of the English-language version of People. While American soap operas such as All My Children and One Life To Live have been cancelled, telanovelas have figured out how to stay on top in the ratings. These shows have been able to stay profitable, in part, because of their breakneck pace of production. El Talisman airs five nights a week for 24 weeks, all on a tiny budget of $120,000 per episode, compared to its English-language soap opera counterparts, which can run up to $2 million per episode. Another major difference between American and Spanish soaps is that telenovela writers change scripts based on minute-to-minute viewer feedback. The ability to respond to viewer feedback is precisely one of the reasons telenovelas are still going strong. Telanovelas thrive as American soaps die… Devious Maids is an upcoming American comedy soap opera created by Marc Cherry to air on Lifetime in 2013. It was originally developed to air on ABC. Marc Cherry had a successful run as writer on The Golden Girls and creator and writer/executive producer of Desperate Housewives. The pilot is based on the Mexican soap opera Ellas son la Alegria de Hogar, which translates to English as “They are a Home’s Joy”. The American adaptation was to follow four maids with ambition and dreams of their own while they work for the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. Lifetime picked up the pilot after ABC passed. All My Children superstar Susan Lucci is set to play Genevieve Delacourt. Ana Ortiz, played Ugly Betty’s single mother sister Hilda, will play one of the maids Marisol. Lifetime was built on the stealing of soap opera audiences since its early days. The irony that Devious Maids will be launched on Lifetime, picked up from ABC, and using ABC’s biggest daytime star Susan Lucci to attract a certain fan base is pretty devious. How devious… This year’s Daytime Emmy Award show was not broadcast on a major network for the first time in the show’s history. The 39th edition of the Emmys was left without a home when CBS, which aired the show the previous two years, declined to make room on its schedule for the telecast, which was produced by Associated Television International. The cable network HLN aired the award show. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences parted ways with ATI, which leased the time from CBS while CBS sold advertising and product placement after last year’s show. Other broadcast networks declined to pick up the Daytime Emmys, which have struggled to stay relevant in the face of declining ratings and outright cancellation of once mighty daytime soap operas. This marks the first time the ceremony will air on cable. This year’s telecast featured tributes to the recently cancelled programs including All My Children and One Life To Live. Daytime Emmy show off network TV… There are millions of dedicated soap opera fans. But in general, people really don’t care whether “Marlena” will be rescued from being kidnapped by Stefano for the 20th time. The storylines on popular soaps have evolved over the years. The melodrama is not as suspenseful as it once was. Audiences have become too jaded by the world’s amazing to concerned with the land of make believe. There was a time when sex scenes on soap operas came across very chaste. The involvement of these scenes has kept up with the times, which is why these programs have typically been aired while the kids were at school. Daytime television has evolved. The staged love scenes have lost their sex appeal. After the spell of Jerry Springer and Maury Show wore off, viewers began turning to reality programming to get their kicks. Watching real people engage in live interactions is simply too irresistible. Soaps have done a fairly decent job of keeping up with current topics. There are too many ethnic groups that haven’t been represented on soaps. After a period of time, seeing the same rich people playing out their existences in the same three sets becomes too tiresome. The assortment of lifestyles represented on daytime soaps just can’t compare with those showcased on reality shows. Seeing people on TV who, look, dress, and act like those in your own neighborhood is no comparison to the cardboard cut-outs of yesterday’s daytime programming. Dying a slow death… And then there were four… Days of Our Lives has been renewed through September 2013 with an option for 2014. The love triangles of Addie/Doug/Julie landed the show on the cover of Time Magazine, and is the only soap opera in history to hold that honor. The shocking plots when Vivian buried Dr. Carly Manning alive and the Devil possession of Dr. Marlena Evans will go down in ratings history. The show has been airing in high definition since 2010. As of 2010, Days Of Our Lives generally ranks #3 among the four daytime soap operas on the air. However Day Of Our Lives is last among all soap operas for the numbers of viewers in the targeted demographic of women aged between 18-49 years old. Days Of Our Lives General Hospital became the oldest American soap opera in 2010, when As The World Turns ended. With the cancellation of both All My Children and One Life to Live, General Hospital is the only soap opera airing ABC. The show moved to 2pm. No show in the history of soap operas attained the ratings of Luke and Laura’s wedding. February 23, 2010 marked the series 12,000th episode. In December 2011 former One Life To Live executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati would replace Jill Farren Phelps and Garin Wolf respectively. The new production team would also bring characters from One Life To Live to General Hospital in a cross-over never seen before. General Hospital The Bold and The Beautiful has become the most-watched soap in the world with an audience of an estimated 26.2 million viewers. As of 2010, the show continues to hold onto the second-placed position in weekly Nielson Ratings for daytime dramas. It has won 31 Daytime Emmy Awards. The series switched to high definition making it the second-to-last American soap to make the switch. It is the youngest airing daytime soap opera in the United States. Bradley Bell, son of William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell the show’s co-creators, serves as executive producer and head writer of The Bold and The Beautiful. Recent budget cuts and salary disputes have caused the show to loose two of its biggest stars and original cast members Ron Moss and multiple winner Susan Flannery. The Bell family legacy lives on in this family drama set in a Los Angeles based fashion design house. The Bold & The Beautiful The Young and The Restless is still taped at CBC Television City, studios 41 and 43 in Hollywood since its debut in 1973. After William J. Bell’s 1998 retirement, a number of different head writers took over the position including Kay Alden, Lynn Marie Latham, Hogan Sheffer, and the recently fired daughter-in-law Maria Arena Bell. In 2012 former General Hospital executive producer Jill Farren Phelps was hired as the new executive producer of the soap, replacing Bell. Griffith was also named the sole head writer. Since its debut, The Young and the Restless has won seven Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series. It is the highest-rated daytime drama on American television. As of 2008 it has appeared at the top of the weekly Nielsen ratings in that category for more than 1,000 weeks since 1998. The series, along with NBC’s Days Of Our Lives (both owned by Sony Pictures Television), has been renewed through 2013 with optional 2014. The Young & The Restless Jill Farren Phelps earned a BFA in directing from Carnegie Mellon University. She became a stage manager at McCarter Theater working under Mike Nichols and Bob Fosse. She started her career in 1974 with Guiding Light as a production assistant. From 1970-1984 Phelps served as Emmy Award-winning music director of General Hospital. She joined Santa Barbara in 1984 where she rose to executive producer. She has worked as executive producer at all three major US television networks producing six daytime dramas. In 2003, Phelps fired veteran screen and television actress Anna Lee, who portrayed matriarch Lila Quartermaine on General hospital for a quarter of a century. While Phelps served as executive producer of Santa Barbara, the character of Eden Capwell, seeking treatment in infertility, was raped by her gynecologist. During Phelps’ stint at Another World, the character Frankie was brutally murdered by a stalker in what remains on of the most gruesome portrayals of violence in daytime television history. Phelps also made the decision to kill off the beloved character of Maureen Bauer in a horrible car crash on Guiding Light. During Phelps’ time at General Hospital, the character of Dr. Patrick Drake exposed a patient and a partner to HIV after a condom broke. Jill Farren Phelps has a reputation for making the tough decisions in producing soaps. She was brought in, to boost The Young And The Restless from slipping ratings. She is the last working executive producer to have worked on so many other soaps during the thriving age of daytime dramas. And like Hera, Jill has been the queen of all soap opera Goddesses, ruling with a firm hand and is not afraid to make tough decisions in her rule. Jill Farren Phelps, Queen of all Soap Opera Goddesses CBS replaced Guiding Light with Let’s Make A Deal and As The World Turns with The Talk. The introduction of more hours of Today on NBC has contributed to washing away the soap, that once-dominated daytime television. There is simply no room for soaps. Disney transformed its SOAPnet channel into Disney Junior, an outlet for preschoolers. American women were the target consumers of soap operas. Procter & Gamble built an empire on the advertisements shown during soaps. In the early days of radio and TV, commercials were produced as a vehicle for selling soap and other household necessities to the stay-at-home wives and mothers. In the 1970s the three big broadcast networks aired 18 soap operas. Measured spending on network TV for soap operas totaled $764 million in 2009, down 27.3%. Advertiser spending on the genre continues to wane. An average of 6.5 million people tuned in to watch daytime dramas in the 1991-1992 TV season, according to Nielsen. By the 2009-2010 season, the average dropped to 1.3 million. Soap operas taught viewers about everything from crisis management to gender roles, and created a community of fans through which avid watchers express their reaction to the storylines. The rise of reality shows, Facebook and the web. Viewers of primetime TV know they can find a good drama on AMC or HBO just as easily as they can on Fox or CBS. The same is true of daytime TV, which is filled with newsbreaks, tons of programming aimed at smaller niches of audience. The competition includes medical shows, cooking shows, fitness shows and judge shows, both on traditional television and cable. Soap Opera viewing has not been the same since the coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial blanketed the airwaves in the 1990s. People realized they can do without and find other things to consume the time. Self-help, reality and advice shows now fill the void. Down the drain… The soap opera is truly an American phenomenon. Each and every weekday, millions of people from all over the world tune in to their favorite soap to follow the trials and tribulations of their favorite characters. Passion, courage, and love stories are told with a flair of the outrageous, or even a hint of danger. Soap characters are like every day people, and at the same time they are fictional. Soap people never seem to age, or they age very rapidly, as in the case of children being children one day and teenagers the next!! Characters are always perfectly dressed, with perfect hair, perfect clothes, and perfect jobs, and babysitting is always available on a moment’s notice, so that if the hero needs to say the day, he or she can. Soaps are popular among all gender lines, any demographic group or region, all over the world. Their main focus years ago was the “housewife”, and the stories were geared toward the market of women aged 18-49. This has changed over the last 50 years, many stories are directed at the romantic dangerous side, the kind of stories that bring the viewer in and make them want to watch day after day. Soaps stories are usually in the form of an “arc”, a long-term story that plays out over a few months. Different types of soaps, whether it be daytime or nighttime use this arc to keep the viewers interested. A daytime soap can usually go into more detail. Although the myth is that soap operas are made for housewives and working class women, the demographics of viewers reveal that people of all economical levels, men and women, enjoy a good narrative story that never ends. Although soaps have had a tough time competing in an ever-increasing television market, they are here to stay; loyal fans will never give them up without a fight!
Soaps may be dying, but there is still an audience… Many famous people are associated with soap operas, not just actors and actresses but behind the scenes like writers and producers. Among the famous actors are big name stars in soapdom like Susan Lucci ("All My Children"), Deirdre Hall ("Days of Our Lives") and Anthony Geary ("General Hospital"). There are some famous soap writers, such as Irma Phillips, an icon in soap opera history. She wrote some major soap opera legends such as "Guiding Light", back in the 1930’s, and then "As the World Turns" in 1956. Subsequently, she and co-creator Ted Corday wrote "Days of Our Lives" in 1965. The reins for Days were handed down to son Ken Corday when father Ted passed away. Another soap opera icon was Agnes Nixon. She originally worked under Irma Phillips, but then branched out with her own ideas, creating other soap legends "One Life to Live" (1968) and "All My Children" (1970). Of course many people have become famous subsequent to portraying characters on soap operas, such as Kevin Bacon, Meg Ryan, Brad Pitt and Marisa Tomei. Soap operas have evolved over the many years, from radio to half hour TV shows, to one-hour daytime and nighttime storylines that last for months or even years at a time. Soaps have been the jumping board for social issues, health issues, even political issues. Actors and actresses have gotten their start on soaps and moved on to bigger (sometimes better) projects, and writers and producers have found a home on the different networks that broadcast them. Yesterday’s soap stars are big stars today… Kevin Bacon - Tod Adamson (Search for Tomorrow, 1979) and T. J. 'Tim' Werner (Guiding Light, 1980-81)
Alec Baldwin - Billy Allison Aldrich (The Doctors, 1980-82)
Christine Baranski - Beverly Tucker (Another World, 1983)
Angela Bassett - Leonie Peach (Ryan's Hope, 1987)
Kathy Bates - Belle Bodelle (All My Children, 1984) and Phyllis (The Doctors, 1977)
Warren Beatty (Love Of Life)
Courtney Cox- Bunny (As The World Turns, 1984)
Ted Danson - Tom Conway (Somerset, 1975-76) and Mitch Pierson (The Doctors, 1977)
Robert De Niro (Search For Tomorrow)
Leonardo Dicaprio- Young Mason Capwell (Santa Barbara, 1990)
Olympia Dukakis - Dr. Barbara Moreno (Search for Tomorrow, 1983)
Laurence Fishburne (Joshua Hall, One Life To Live, 1973-76)
Calista Flockhart - Elise (Guiding Light, 1989)
Morgan Freeman - Roy Bingham (Another World, 1982-84)
Kelsey Grammer- Dr. Carnard (Another World, 1983-84)
Marg Helgenberger - Siobhan Ryan Novak (Ryan's Hope, 1982-86)
Dustin Hoffman (Search For Tomorrow)
James Earl Jones (Jerry Turner, As the World Turns, 1966)
Tommy Lee Jones (Mark Toland, One Life To Live, 1971-75)
Harvey Keitel - Blue Whale customer (Dark Shadows, 1966)
Kevin Kline - Woody Reed (Search For Tomorrow, 1976)
Judith Light - Karen Wolek (One Life To Live, 1977-83)
Ray Liotta - Joey Perrini (Another World, 1978-81)
Lindsay Lohan - Alexandra 'Alli' Fowler (Another World, 1996-97)
William H. Macy - Frank Fisk (Another World, 1982)
Ricky Martin - Miguel Morez (General Hospital, 1994-95)
Rue McLanahan - Caroline Johnson (Another World, 1970-71)
Julianne Moore - Carmen Engler (The Edge of Night, 1984) and Frannie Hughes Crawford (As the World Turns, 1985-88)
Leonard Nimoy - Bernie (General Hospital, 1963)
Ving Rhames - Czaja Carnek (Another World, 1986)
Meg Ryan - Betsy Stewart Montgomery Andropoulos (As the World Turns, 1982-84)
Susan Sarandon - Sarah Fairbanks (Search for Tomorrow, 1972)
Marisa Tomei - Marcy Thompson (As The World Turns, 1984)
Kathleen Turner - Nola DAncy Aldrich (The Doctors, 1978-79)
Christopher Walken (Michael 'Mike' Bauer, The Guiding Light, 1954-56)
Sigourney Weaver - Avis Ryan (Somerset, 1976)
Billy Dee Williams - Assistant D.A. (Another World, 1960s)
Big stars who started on soaps… Julia Roberts was rejected for the part of Linda Warner on All My Children. In 1984, when the Oscar winning actress was still a 19-year-old unemployed actress, she read for the part of All My Children’s Linda Warner, who was eventually murdered. Roberts lost the part to fellow Oscar winner Melissa Leo. All My Children’s then casting director Joan D’Incecco says, “I knew she had a special exotic quality, but she wasn’t right for the part. She was just a baby. Timing is important. Its not like she was “Julia Roberts” back then.” At the 2002 People’s Choice Awards, Julia Roberts admitted that she was a fan of Days Of Our Lives, and asked to be seated near the cast at the event, as well as other award shows. In 2004, Roberts was quoted in Entertainment Weekly saying that “the show has gotten a little wacko.” Julia Roberts connection to soap operas… Dark Shadows is a horror comedy film, based on the gothic soap opera produced between 1966 and1971. The film is directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, a 200-year old vampire. Michelle Pfeiffer stars as Collins’ cousin Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, the reclusive matriarch of the Collins family. The film, a fair box office success, making over $238 million, received mixed reviews from critics, many of whom praised its visual style, but felt it lacked a focused or substantial plot and developed characters. Character development is a luxury daytime soaps are afforded, which can be lost in the fast paced world of film. Dark Shadows proved to be a hit with film audiences. Dark Shadows 2012
Out of the roughly 103 soap operas that have ever made it on the air, I have watched 32 of them. I have a personal connection to soap operas. As far back as I can remember, soap operas have been a presence. As a child, both of my grandmothers, great-grandmother, and aunts watched soap operas while caring for me. With each person’s taste, there was a preference in what soaps they watched. I played on the floor with my toys while my great-grandmother rocked in her rocking chair, watching One Life To Live. I remember the world taking a pause for Luke & Laura’s wedding. I watched the two day event in my grandmother’s living room with her, my aunt, and a few of their friends. It was almost like a pre-pay-per-view event. As a teenager, I would watch Santa Barbara after school as a distraction before tackling my awful algebra homework. Santa Barbara was and always will be, my most favorite. I watched Marlena becoming possessed by the Devil play out live. I have seen shows come and go. The Young & The Restless has been my guilty pleasure since I was 12 years old. Now, decades later, The Young & The Restless continues to fill up my DVR. I still miss Knots Landing after all these years. Soap operas have origins in Greek mythology. The wild stories of ancient Greece would inspire any soap opera plot. And as we have seen in soap operas through the years, nothing is off limits. The Bible is touted as “the greatest story ever told.” The bible is just one book with a beginning and middle and an end. Soap operas are for the moment are endless, with the four that are hanging on for dear life. Soap operas started in radio and revolutionized television. The next progression is moving soaps to the web. The ratings success of soap-style shows on network and cable television suggests that audiences enjoy great melodrama. Soap operas have been the springboard for many A-list Hollywood players, our modern day Gods and Goddesses. Soap operas will live on. I will be won’t be the only one watching. My 82-year old grandmother still watches Days Of Our Lives everyday and she loved Passions. My personal connection… www.marieclaire.com/celebrity-lifestyle/articles/famous-bad-girls#slide-1
Cited websites The Historical Dictionary of American Radio Soap Operas
Jim Cox, MD: Scarecrow, 2005, article
Plan to continue ABC soap operas online falls through
Los Angeles Times, by Meg James, November 23, 2011
Daytime TV’s New Entries Push Soaps Toward Drain:
Why the Once-loved Genre Is Losing Viewers, Marketing Dollars, and What’s Replacing It.
Brian Steinberg, Published August 09, 2010
Drama for magazines after soap opera slash
Keith J. Kelly, posted April 15,2011
Pro Wrestling: The Male Soap Opera:
Similarities are striking between soap operas and professional wrestling
Salaries of Daytime Soap Stars:
How much does your favorite daytime star earn?
Katherine Thurston, About.com guide
Soap Opera Declines Cause Fallout for Magazines
AMI Folds “Soap Opera Weekly” as category shrinks
Lucia Moses, adweek.com
Soap Operas Cut Costs, Susan Lucci’s Salary Cut
The Huffington Post
Frazier Moore, December 2, 2008
Plan to continue ABC soap operas online falls through
Los Angeles Times
Meg James, November 23, 2011
The Rise and Fall of the Soap Opera
Lindsey Chapman, findingdulcinea.com, April 20, 2009
The Survival of Soap Opera:
The State of the American Soap
Henry Jenkins, henryjenkins.org, December 6, 2010
For the many images:
Bing.com, google.com, & yahoo.com
Director of Traffic: wikipedia.com Cited articles The best moments in the history of Soap Operas… Lifetime Television was established in June 1982 as a 24-hour service, a cable television specialty channel devoted to films, sitcoms and dramas, all of which are either geared toward women or feature women in lead roles. Lifetime television is directly connected to soap operas in that its content is created geared towards women.
The list of books to be included in the Old Testament was finalized around 100 BCE. The final list of books for the New Testament was settled about 367 CE. The Bible was filled with amazing stories. The lives that women of the Bible lead could have been ripped right out of a melodramatic soap opera.
The story of the first woman Eve started it all. By taking a bite out of the apple a serpent gave her and passing it to Adam, she created original sin. Women throughout time have been blamed for being temptresses. Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus’ most celebrated disciples. Jesus cleansed her of “seven demons”, which has been interpreted as the seven deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. Other interpretations of “seven demons”, identify Mary as a prostitute. She became Jesus’ close friend and most prominent during his last days. She was present at the cross after the male disciples fled, and at his burial. She was the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection. The story of Esther, details the plot of Persia to destroy the Jews. Esther exposed the plot and saved the Jews from destruction. Esther’s life was a tragic tale of male domination and female liberation. Dynasty’s Joan Collins played her in the 1960s film Esther and The King. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, King of the Sidonians. The main characters in Jezebel’s life were affected by her evil deeds. Jezebel’s domination of her husband was directly responsible for the whole of Israel falling in to the sin of idolatry, causing the nation to suffer a famine caused by the lack of rain. Jezebel not only worshipped idols but practiced witchcraft.