Question: I realize that soap operas are not your regular beat, so I understand if you don't respond to my question. I'm curious, though: Do you have any thoughts on NBC's cancellation of Passions to add another hour of Today, and on the talk that its other soap, Days of our Lives, will be canceled once the network's contract with the show expires in 2009? I figure the motives for these moves are similar to NBC's earlier announcement that they were giving up the 8 pm prime-time slot to inexpensive shows. I read how you feel about the prime-time decision. Do you feel similarly about the daytime decision? I know that soaps have had a rough time of it in the last decade or so, and it's my understanding that NBC has historically been less patient and more aggressive with their daytime lineup. Is the situation with soap operas that bad? Do you think NBC is setting a precedent that the others will follow?
Answer: Kelly, you're right that daytime soaps are absolutely not my beat, but this does appear to be a watershed moment for the genre, especially where NBC is concerned. I think you are also right that NBC has historically been the most brutal in canceling its soap franchises (Another World, most notably), and it's hard for a TV brat like me to imagine the hourglass of Days of our Lives being retired for good. But there are many economic sea changes occurring in the network broadcast business, and if NBC thinks it can make more money for itself and its affiliates by dumping soaps altogether and adding more hours for news and syndicated programming during the day, then I suppose that could happen. Kevin Reilly made it pretty clear to reporters at the recent TCA gathering that the network wasn't going to accept a situation where it lost money in this daypart. But will the other networks follow suit? I haven't a clue. I certainly haven't picked up any hints that shows as iconic as The Young & the Restless and All My Children are headed for the waste bin anytime soon.