Eight-year-old soap ends run

The Peacock has pulled the plug on “Passions.”

Net today will announce the cancellation of the nearly eight-year-old soap, which was known for its young-skewing supernatural storylines. Death had been anticipated in the wake of NBC’s decision to expand “Today” to four hours (Daily Variety, Jan. 15).

NBC’s contract for “Passions” runs until June, but since the extra hour of “Today” won’t begin until the fall, it’s expected the Peacock will try to extend the show through August. Net still needs to negotiate those deals with talent and producers.

Peacock was proud of “Passions,” often touting its young femme numbers. Just last week, net issued a ratings release noting the sudser’s No. 4 ranking among all serials among women 18-49 and its first-place tie with “Days of Our Lives” as the top sudser among women 18-34 for the first week of January.

NBC also pointed to the fact that it owns “Passions” outright, allowing it to keep any profits from the skein.

Cancellation of the skein points to the increasingly harsh economic climate for sudsers. Daytime insiders say it’s likely one or two more daytime dramas could be killed by the end of the decade.

Because “Passions” is such a strong brand among young femmes, it’s believed NBC will try to find a way to keep the show alive somewhere other than the network. An Internet platform is a possibility, while NBC might also talk to Disney to see if the conglom would be interested in producing a shortened version of the sudser for its successful SoapNet cabler.

Another potential home might be News Corp.’s barely breathing MyNetwork TV, which has had no luck drawing auds with its cheaply produced telenovelas.

Launched in July 1999, “Passions” was created by former “Days of Our Lives” scribe Jim Reilly, who remains exec producer and head writer. Lisa de Cazotte also serves as exec producer.

Skein was set in the town of Harmony, and at various times featured characters such as Timmy the doll-turned-human and Tabitha, the 300-year-old witch.

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