Beloved TV Soaps Revived Online Starting This Week
Taped to a wall at the entrance to the Connecticut Film Center in Stamford is this greeting: "Welcome (back) to Pine Valley."
Pine Valley, of course, is the mythical setting of "All My Children," a daytime drama that ran on ABC for nearly 41 years until it was snuffed in 2011.
But now, in one of those plot twists so common to soap operas but so rare in the real world, "All My Children" has been raised from the dead.
Was its cancellation just a bad dream, from which the show is now awakening? In any case, "AMC" will be back starting Monday with much of its august cast intact (including David Canary, Julia Barr, Jill Larson, Debbi Morgan and Cady McClain, and perhaps even Susan Lucci eventually returning to the fold), along with shiny new actors to add more pizazz.
But this time, "AMC" will not be on a broadcast network. It will be online.
So will "One Life to Live," another venerable soap cut down by ABC after 44 seasons. It, too, will spring back to life on Monday. (Welcome back to Llanview, everybody!) Returning fan favorites include Erika Slezak, Robert S. Woods, Robin Strasser and Hillary B. Smith, each of whom has logged decades on the show.
Each serial will unveil four daily half-hours per week, plus a recap/behind-the-scenes episode on Fridays, with 42 weeks of original programming promised for the first year.
They will be available for streaming on computers on the Hulu website. Subscribers to Hulu Plus can watch on a variety of other devices. And the episodes will be available for purchase on iTunes.
This resurrection could reverse the doomsday plot that has plagued soaps for decades as their viewership withered and their numbers sank (there are only four left on the broadcast networks; there were a dozen in 1991).
And it is somehow fitting that TV's oldest genre, carried over from radio, should now be making the transition to a 21st-century online platform complete with Agnes Nixon, who created both shows, as a digital pioneer. It's a potentially restorative move that could prove the TV medium failed soaps, not the other way around.
Meanwhile, the drama will adapt to its new medium.
"We don't want to totally reinvent the wheel, but we want to make the wheel turn better and turn quicker," Pepperman says.
"AMC" executive producer Ginger Smith echoes Pepperman from her office a few steps away at the just-moved-in-looking, bustling headquarters the two shows share.
"We want to keep the core," says Smith, who has risen on "AMC" from production assistant in 1988. "I still want escapism and romance, but we're going to have stories that are sometimes a little darker and edgier than we did on ABC."
CATHERINE ZETA-JONES: Checks in to Treatment Facility for Bipolar Disorder
(Photo: Janet Mayer/Splash News Online)
Catherine Zeta-Jones checked in to a treatment center Monday for her bipolar disorder.
TMZ says the 43-year-old is expected to complete a 30-day program and that it's a proactive measure. As one source puts it, "It's maintenance."
Catherine last completed a stint at a treatment center in 2011. At the time, her rep said Catherine had "made the decision to check in to a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat her bipolar II disorder."
Alexandra Raisman & Mark Ballas Join 10 Club
(Photo: Craig Sjodin/ABC)
The ballroom heated up on Monday night's Latin-themed Dancing with the Stars.
Seven weeks into the competition, almost all of the remaining couples came up with impressive routines. But it was Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas who landed their first 10s of the season, with a salsa that Len Goodman – who gave the pair a nine – called, "tasty and refreshing."
The pair got 10s from the other two judges, which put them at a total of 29 points out of 30. They also received an additional three points for winning a dance-off against Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess.
Raisman and Ballas tied with regular high-scoring duo, Derek Hough and Kellie Pickler, who wowed judges with their samba to Ricky Martin's "Shake Your Bon Bon."
But at the end of the night, even though Pickler and Hough were in a tie, they were the ones declared free from Tuesday night's elimination because they had the highest cumulative score of the season.
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff and Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy also tied with 27 points each. Jones and Smirnoff performed a salsa that Goodman called "first rate," while Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy executed an impressive paso doble, though judge Carrie Ann Inaba said it was "missing was a little bit of the depth."
The two couples teamed up against each other in the dance off, with Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy scoring the three extra points for their jive.
Sean Lowe, who struggled in the bottom two last week, bounced back this week, performing a sexy rumba with partner Peta Murgatroyd to Enrique Iglesias's "Hero." The pair earned 24 points on his fiancé Catherine Giudici's birthday.
"Well, well, well, Sean, who's the 'Hero' now?" Inaba said. "That was just wonderful."
At the bottom of the leader board were Ingo Rademacher and Dick. The General Hospital
But Rademacher and Johnson won a dance-off against Murgatroyd and Lowe, landing three extra points for their rumba.
Results will be announced Tuesday!