Noelle Beck and Jon Hensley
How could the death of As the World Turns been avoided? Was Guiding Light the victim of low-ratings or something insidious? Are certain networks execs looking to save the soaps — or their own asses? That recent 113-degree heat wave in L.A. may be nothing compared to the upcoming scorcher Afternoon Delight: Why Soaps Still Matter (4th Street Media) due in 2011 from veteran journalist Carolyn Hinsey (Soap Opera Digest, New York Daily News). One of the most dynamic and provocative voices in the suds world, Hinsey says her book is packed with insider analysis and celebrity contributions but is also written from a true fan's perspective. And she will take no prisoners.
"Guiding Light wasn't cancelled, it was murdered," Hinsey tells TV Guide Magazine. "After 20 years covering this crazy genre, I know where the bodies are buried." And she promises to explain many of those seemingly insane network decisions that leave viewers mad as hell. "I think fans would be more understanding of certain changes if they knew an actor was let go, for example, because he was too drunk to remember his lines," she says. "By the same token, when All My Children mangles its negotiations with big stars like Eden Riegel [Bianca] and Thorsten Kaye [Zach], they deserve to know that, too."
In Afternoon Delight, Hinsey makes the case that daytime dramas are much more vital than the doomsayers would have us believe, noting that, "Jon Stewart would kill for The Young and The Restless' ratings. As the World Turns went off the air with higher ratings than Mad Men. Yet some in the mainstream press sound the death knell. I don't get it."
She says the cancellation of ATWT surprised a lot of its followers who, unfortunately, weren't loyal enough. "It was like the death of the vibrant grandma you counted on to always be there," Hinsey states. "I want to wake soap fans up and say you had better start visiting that grandma and appreciating her, or you could lose her. The industry needs to wake up, too. Some network execs are more interested in saving their jobs than their daytime lineups, and they need to be replaced. Viewers have a connection to soaps that they will never have to talk shows, game shows, or judge shows. They are a destination. You want to drive all your viewers to Oprah's new cable channel? Cancel your soaps."
Don't get her wrong. Hinsey holds much hope for the future of the genre. "The pendulum is going to swing back from shows starring White House crashers, New Jersey alcoholics, and people dressing up like a banana to make a deal," she says. "When it does, soaps will be there like a beloved family member to welcome those viewers back. All six soaps have strong fan bases and could easily increase ratings with a few well-placed tweaks. I'm here to help them do that."
Along with that wisdom and advice, Hinsey promises heavy doses of scandal and dish. "I plan to put a light on the entire industry from a loving, informed place," she says. "The roaches will scatter, and the stars will shine."
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