If soap opera characters can come back from the dead, why not the soaps themselves? After a highly hyped false start in 2011, production company Prospect Park is closer than ever to resurrecting ABC's All My Children (which went off the air in September 2011) and One Life to Live (which wrapped its run January 2012) and present them on a new Internet site, the OnLine Network.
If it all comes to pass — no launch date has been announced — expect slashed budgets and shorter episodes (30 minutes, four times per week) but, on the upside, lots of familiar faces. Stars already signed on include AMC's Vincent Irizarry (David), Debbi Morgan (Angie), Darnell Williams (Jesse), Lindsay Hartley (Cara) and OLTL's Jerry verDorn (Clint). Agnes Nixon, the legendary 85-year-old creator of both soaps, will serve as story consultant.
The news has triggered excitement, plus understandable skepticism. After all, Prospect Park signed up actors, writers and producers for these reboots more than a year ago, then scrapped the deals when it couldn't raise enough money. "We all thought we had jobs, and they pulled the rug out from under us like thieves in the night," says Irizarry, who was nonetheless gung-ho to sign up again. "I totally understand the difficulties here. It's a Herculean effort to pull off this move to the Internet and it's all due to the fans. They stayed loud and tenacious and never gave up hope."
But some of the actors did. "When I read that Prospect Park was trying this again, I thought, 'Yeah, right, what fan is making up this insane rumor?'" Morgan says. "I was completely shocked to find out it's really a go. This is such a historical thing, like when soaps made the move from radio to television. I guess there are all sorts of positives and negatives to being in on the ground floor, but I'm game! Will [these reboots] succeed? With soaps, it's all about the story and the characters."
And that's where things could get ugly. In licensing the two soaps from ABC, Prospect Park has the rights to all characters, including the three from OLTL that are currently enjoying huge success on ABC's General Hospital: Starr (Kristen Alderson), John (Michael Easton) and Todd (Roger Howarth). Prospect wants those characters back, and that has the GH brass in a tizzy. Complicating matters: The actors are under contract to ABC, so theoretically Starr, John and Todd could go away, but the people playing them would stay with the network.
"There are ongoing collaborative conversations [with Prospect Park]," says an ABC spokesperson. "We have various strategies in place depending on the outcome of these talks." How will this royal mess be resolved? It's the ultimate soap cliffhanger.