In the category of we’ll-wait-and-see add this one: The imminent revival of “All My Children” but this time online.
The idea got new life in mid-December when Deadline.com reported that Prospect Park, a production company made up of former ABC executives, was resuming its plan to bring back to the venerable soap that ABC canceled last year, in part to make room for Katie Couric’s new talk show that Disney ABC airs on its owned stations and syndicates nationwide. (Prospect Park originally announced plans to bring back the show in 2011, but that plan fizzled.)
The trouble with bringing back “AMC” is kind of obvious. Though soap operas are pretty cheap TV, they’re very expensive for online, especially when you consider that hiring someone like Susan Lucci, whose iconic Erika Kane character would seem to be pivotal to any revival, would be an expensive hire.
Actresses who’ve been nominated (and lost) Emmy Awards 18 times are not easy to find. (Let’s be fair: She also was the most important soap opera star from 1970 until the show’s demise last year and was pivotal in creating an awesome daytime franchise. She also did win that Emmy in 1999, too.)
The other problem is that soap operas have had their day. The audiences that once watched soap operas have gotten old, and most advertisers don’t like old people, to put it bluntly. "All My Children," once the most popular soap, limped off the air with only a fraction of its former audience.
The soap opera itself is, in media terms, ancient. Soap operas go all the way back to radio and have always been the black sheep of the broadcast business.
That’s a bad rap. Soap operas dealt in a straightforward way with rape, homosexuality and interracial romance and a host of other hot button issues long before other mainstream media did. Erica Kane was in the forefront of all that; she got an abortion in 1973, because she didn’t want a baby to ruin her modeling career. That would be a dangerous storyline, even today.
But on the plus side, even people who didn’t watch “All My Children” had heard of it, and soap operas, with their cliffhanging format, are perfect for the short video online style.
They obvious can engage audiences. “AMC” was one of the most VCRed shows back in the day that was the way people recorded shows. So no doubt it could debut with a huge audience and tons of free media attention.
Reportedly, two of the show’s former stars. Vincent Irizarry and Lindsay Huntley, have signed up for the revival.
Even if Prospect Park can’t bring back Lucci, the younger online audience probably couldn’t care less, nor will they be comparing the original with the remake. One of the greatest things about online video at this point is that everybody involved—from producers to actors to advertisers to consumers—still don’t expect big budget programming. A new “All My Children” would be an interesting stretch of that economic model.