Saturday, April 16, 2011

ABC yet again

As regular readers know, I have written some posts in the past regarding occasional anger at ABC for what I perceived to be decisions designed to intentionally sabotage their daytime serial programming (aka, soap operas), (First postSecond post), but that previous anger was NOTHING compared to the fury I have at them currently.

On Thursday (4/14/2011), claiming to be “guided by extensive research into what today's daytime viewers want and the changing viewing patterns of the audience,” ABC TV has cancelled two literal icons of the soap opera genre which have both been on for over 40 years, “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” (Link to story) which I have been watching for 37 and 20 years respectively.

“All My Children” will broadcast its final episode in September (I guess they want to cash in on one last summer of teens off school...the school year begins, we lose our show) with “One Life to Live” scheduled to end in January of 2012. (link to story). 

ABC’s website (Link) claims this decision will be “evolving the face of daytime television”, but personally I see it as the absolute worst programming decision I have ever seen in my life.

They will be cancelling these two award-winning programs, both of which have loyal, dedicated audiences which number in excess of 2.5 million viewers each, in order to launch two new shows which they claim will “expand ABC Daytime's focus to include more programming that is informative and authentic and centers on transformation, food and lifestyle -- cornerstones of programming that resonates with daytime viewers as evidenced by the success of The View.”

If ABC is under the impression that what is making The View successful is just the format and the catchy two word name, they’re SORELY mistaken. What makes The View great can be summed up with a few specific names and those are primarily Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie, as well as Joy Behar who has been there from the beginning and even Elizabeth Hasselbeck who brings a necessary counter-point to the discussions, as frustrating as she may be for some of us.

But these two new shows, as they are being described by ABC, don’t sound to me like they’re anywhere even close to being in the same league as The View.  In fact, quite the opposite, they both strike me as rather being rather ridiculous, unnecessary and completely uninteresting.

The first of them, the one which will be replacing All My Children, is going to be called “The Chew” (which is, without question the WORST name for a program I’ve ever heard…a lot of “worsts” in this post, eh?) and is described as follows: “The Chew will be produced by Gordon Elliot (Paula Deen’s Home Cooking) and is a one-hour series that enables viewers to “get the dish” on anything and everything related to the world of food and beyond. Hosts will include Mario Batali (Iron Chef America), entertaining expert Clinton Kelly (What Not to Wear), Carla Hall (Top Chef), Michael Symon (Iron Chef America), and nutrition expert Daphne Oz.” My thoughts on this are…”The CHEW”…REALLY?? Why? Because it rhymes with “The View”? Because someone thinks it sounds “edgy”? Frankly, if I wanted to watch food/cooking shows, I would turn to the experts at “The Food Network” (Link) but I don’t have any interest in cooking shows, and have therefore never watched the Food Network and I promise you I will NEVER watch “The Chew”.

The second new show, which will be replacing One Life to Live, has the working title “The Revolution” and is being promoted as follows: “The Revolution, from Executive Producer JD Roth and 3 Ball Productions (The Biggest Loser), will be a daily show about health and lifestyle transformations. The show is hosted by a team of experts and rotating guest contributors and will feature a “unique concept.” ABC says: “Each week one woman’s five-month weight loss journey will unfold in just five days, with daily results and a final transformational reveal on Friday.”

Again, another show that holds absolutely NO interest whatsoever for me. If I want that kind of information, I would look it up on the internet. I had no interest in “The Biggest Loser” (and actually, found the title rather offensive), never watched that show and again, promise I will NEVER watch “The Revolution” (or whatever its final title ends up being).

Brian Frons
In discussing the new programming, Brian Frons, the head of ABC Daytime (who is responsible for this terrible decision) said, “While we are excited about our new shows and the shift in our business, I can’t help but recognize how bittersweet the change is. We are taking this bold step to expand our business because viewers are looking for different types of programming these days. They are telling us there is room for informative, authentic and fun shows that are relatable, offer a wide variety of opinions and focus on ‘real life’ takeaways. A perfect example of this is The View, and that factored into our decision. The Chew and The Revolution are in the same vein and will be great additions to the lineup, with The View serving as an ideal foundation from which to launch these programs. They will also provide enormous opportunity for the creation of ancillary businesses and growth.”

Again, this man seems to think that these two new shows will be on a par with The View, but from the descriptions ABC has made available, these new shows don’t sound like they will come anywhere even close to what they have with The View.  I would be willing to bet that President Obama, Vice President Biden, or any of the other remarkable individuals who have appeared on The View, would NEVER appear on “The Chew”, and if they actually did, well then perhaps the criticism that was wrongly leveled at President Obama for his View appearance might be a bit more apropos (my post on THAT incident).

Both of these shows sound absolutely horrible to me and certainly not like something that I (or even anyone that I know for that matter) would be the LEAST bit interested in watching. Also, I certainly do not believe that they will draw anywhere even CLOSE to the number of daily viewers that are watching the two shows they are replacing. Even Brian Frons, acknowledges that in regards to the ratings “initially we actually expect a little lower and then we hope for growth as time goes on. You take a look at the history of “The View,” you know the ratings were low at the beginning and it took a while for them to be what they are today.”  Well, Mr. Frons, personally, from the descriptions your network put out, they sound to me like they will both be total flops, so I think he should expect the ratings to be more that just “a LITTLE lower”.

In order for the ratings of these two new shows to compete with the audience of the shows they are replacing they would need to have a daily viewing audience of 2.5 million each. Just for a frame of reference, the 2010 population* of each of the following states is LESS than the audience of either program: New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, and Vermont. In fact, the combined population of Alaska, North Dakota and Vermont (2,008,563*) is still a half a million less than the viewership of either show. However the head of ABC Daytime, apparently still doesn’t feel that is enough (but if he believes he’s going to get anywhere close to an audience like that for either “The Chew” or “The Revolution”, he’s delusional).

Frons was quoted by “TV by the Numbers” admitting that “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” are both “iconic pieces of television that have made an indelible mark on our culture’s history.” He even acknowledges that, “each of the shows has touched millions and millions of viewers and informed the social consciousness.” He then further stated that “It has been a privilege to work with the extraordinary teams who brought the residents of Pine Valley and Llanview to life each day, and we thank the cast, crew, producers and most especially the fans for their commitment to the shows through their history.”

First, I think Frons needs to look up the meaning of the word "indelible" means "impossible to remove, erase, or wash away."  I wish he would stop trying to remove the indelible. 

Second, I don't believe for an INSTANT that Frons cares one iota about "the fans" because IF he did, he wouldn't be doing this.  I also find it very difficult to believe that Mr. Frons gives a damn about the cast, crew and producers of either of these shows, especially considering that he did not even inform them that their shows were being cancelled until a mere 20 minutes before releasing the information to the press and by the horrible method by which he told them.

The All My Children cast and crew, who had been forced by Frons to completely uproot their lives and relocate to the West Coast from New York (where the ABC soaps have ALWAYS been based) about a year ago, was actually given the bad news by Mr. Frons in person. The OLTL folks (who had been allowed to stay in New York) only got a video feed.  The Frons-demanded AMC move from New York to California was part of the reason that AMC had to kill off a very popular character because he didn’t want to leave New York (where his real-life wife is part of the OLTL cast). This of course, hurt the ratings and therefore was partially responsible for the show’s ultimate demise. By contrast, OLTL was just about to bring back Roger Howarth, one of the most popular actors who had ever been on the show, who was scheduled to begin taping in May. (Link)

Frons further claims that in order to “honor the core, passionate audience and their rich history with our soaps,” that they would “conclude each series in a manner that respects their legacies and the longstanding hopes of many of their viewers.” (reference)

Well, I have news for you Mr. Frons, if you want to respect the legacies of these award-winning shows and the devoted viewers who have been loyal to these programs (and their network by proxy) for DECADES, the way to truly honor them would be to NOT make this horrible decision! But it seems that Mr. Frons is determined (in fact, I personally believe that he has been trying to accomplish exactly this for quite some time) and I don’t think anything (other than being fired himself) could dissuade him from this path, especially since when he was specifically asked if fans lobbying to try to get the shows back would have any chance of success, Frons replied,

“No. We really spent a lot of time learning from our success with "The View," talking to viewers about what they're looking for and we have tremendous respect for the passion of our serial fans. But we're at a point with these two shows, as much as they've done for the network, and as much as we appreciate them -- their time here has come to an end. And we're going to spend our efforts trying to make a success out of the two new shows, "The Chew" and "The Revolution," which are in genres that, as we talk to viewers, they want more of.”

Well, Mr. Frons, I wish that you WOULD talk to the viewers, like the ones who are inundating ABC with phone calls, e-mails, comments on ABC web sites, and postings on various ABC social networking sites who are begging you to not inflict these horrible shows on us and let us keep the award winning entertainment that all 2.5 million of us want, and have been loyally watching for decades. But since you seem just as stubborn as certain politicians who also don’t give a damn about what the people want, I suppose all I can do is hope that ABC/Disney comes to its senses before September and decides that instead of the casts and crews of two fantastic shows losing their jobs, only one job should be lost…and that is the one currently occupied by Mr. Brian Frons.

I also sincerely hope that when the Daytime Emmy nominations come out on the 11th of May that both All My Children and One Life to Live do well in all categories for which they qualify, to make Brian Frons look even more like the wrong-headed fool that he clearly is. In lieu of that, I desperately hope that some other network (SoapNet; Oprah’s OWN, etc.) picks up these fine programs AND their 2.5 million dedicated viewers...after all, what's better than 2.5 million people looking for a new home because the old one has been destroyed by a greedy man who puts excessive profits above people?

To sign a petition to ABC/Disney urging them to fire Frons (who I am affectionately calling "The Butcher of Daytime"), go here:  SIGN

* according to 2010 Census figures (


  1. How is it your not aware that Soapnet is changing to Disney kids in January?

  2. Claudia, because I don't have children, so know nothing about children's programming, and I don't watch the shows on SoapNet because I watch them in their regular time so know very little about that network either. All I knew about SoapNet is that in addition to the ABC soaps, they also run other shows that are not ABC programming (Y&R, "Being Erica", 90210, etc.) so I therefore didn't realize that ABC owned it. So apparently there's one more bad ABC decision that I was unaware of. Incidentally, why would we need a "Disney Kids" network? Is there a "Disney Adults" channel that I'm also unaware of? It's not like ALL Disney isn't "Disney Kids". Ridiculous! SoapNet is MUCH more valuable!

  3. My deepest hope right now is that there is a revolt at ABC against Brian Frons from both other personalities (Kelly Ripa got her start on AMC, Whoopi is a fan, etc.)and sponsors (who seem to be being innundated with messages) which forces Disney to realize that rather than the casts and crews of two award winning shows with millions of devoted viewers losing their jobs, only ONE job should be lost...that of Mr. Frons.