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‘One Life to Live’ Production Halted Indefinitely Pending Outcome of ABC Lawsuit

Photo: Chapman Baehler/TOLN

The Los Angeles Times dropped a bombshell this morning regarding the future of The OnLine Network’s One Life to Live. Prospect Park has suspended production on One Life to Live indefinitely as the studio heads to court to battle ABC. What does the future hold for One Life to Live and where does this leave All My Children?

Prospect Park’s decision to shelve One Life to Live, according to the L.A. Times, is a result of their ongoing $25 million lawsuit against ABC. Prospect Park filed suit against ABC in April after alleging the network sabotaged their reboot attempts. Production won’t resume on OLTL until the lawsuit has been settled. However, preparations for the more popular All My Children continues, with writers in the midst of crafting stories for the second season.

“Agnes told me this job wasn’t for sissies,” said Prospect Park executive Jeff Kwatinetz of his the difficulties putting the shows together. “If I didn’t want to make any mistakes, I would sit back and let other people go figure it out and then just copy them. But then we wouldn’t be helping to shape the future of television.”

At first read, one might have missed the announcement, which was buried in the 29th paragraph. The piece chronicled the struggles Kwatinetz and Prospect Park endured on their journey to resurrect the soaps for online consumption, in addition to the difficulties faced after the launch.

Last month, The OnLine Network announced “season finales” for their online soaps, in addition to the debut of a new app and revamped website. “We could not be more proud to have delivered a stunning season of All My Children and One Life to Live, and really thank the creative teams and casts for being true partners in this journey. Together we have tackled more business, creative, and logistical challenges than most shows experience in a lifetime of production, yet we continue to prevail with these top rated, critically acclaimed shows.” As for next season, Kwatinetz added, “We are prepping now for next season and have more surprises and twists and turns to deliver audiences – I am just hoping they stay on the soaps and not in our way.”

After the announcement, a rep for The OnLine Network told TVSource Magazine there would be a break in episodes after the finales, with no timetable set for new episodes. No media release was issued from The OnLine Network or Prospect Park with further information.

Our Take: Let’s state obvious – this sucks for everyone involved. As I said earlier on Twitter, the indefinite suspension does not mean cancellation, nor should people take it as such. All My Children proved to be the more popular show, so it’s smart to focus resources and energy on furthering the success of that project. It’s an unfortunate comfort for Prospect and company not to split attention between both projects given the circumstances.

Creatively, All My Children had the edge. Their stories were fresh, engaging and exciting. Why Prospect saw fit to remove Marlene McPherson and Elizabeth Snyder as head writer I don’t understand, but simply put – they told better stories than One Life to Live’s creative team. AMC also had more buzz and attention. Continuing that momentum is not only what’s best for fans, but it’s best for business.

The reasons I stated make sense. I could buy that if it were the reason given. Instead, Prospect Park chose to lay the blame for the “shelving” (aka indefinite hiatus) at the feet of ABC and this lawsuit. Maybe I’m missing something, but how is this the reason? What changed between the time the lawsuit was filed (and production continued) to now?

Why is the narrative from some (including fans), to finger ABC for anything that goes awry?  It’s like: “Don’t like our stories at OLTL? Hey, that’s ABC’s fault. If we had access to Todd (the way we wanted), John and Starr; if GH hadn’t killed off Cole and Hope; we would have had a completely different show!” With over four decades worth of history to pull from, how is it that the loss of Todd, John and Starr, which could have been recast just as Matthew and Destiny were, “absolutely hindered” the re-launch of One Life to Live? How much different would OLTL have been if Michael Easton and Kristen Alderson joined the reboots? We’ll never know.

What I do know is All My Children launched successfully without megastars Susan Lucci (Erica Kane), Alicia Minshew (Kendall Hart-Slater), Michael E. Knight (Tad Martin), Cameron Mathison (Ryan Lavery) and Rebecca Budig (Greenlee Lavery). Was it the planning or execution?

I need answers because this reason is not cutting it.

Ryan White-Nobles
Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TV Source Magazine. He's began covering entertainment and soap operas in 2005. In 2009 he co-launched Soap Opera Source, and led the TV Source rebrand in 2012. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

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