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Soapnet lathers up one-minute bubbles

'Micro' stories hope to prevent channel surfing

NEW YORK — The trend toward one-minute dramas begun by NBC has picked up another adherent: Disney’s Soapnet will begin running its 12-minute/12-episode “micro” series later this month under the title “One Minute Soap.”

“We think these micro stories will be a fun, innovative way to bring the soap experience to our viewers,” said Deborah Blackwell, general manager of Soapnet, a 24-hour cable channel that repeats the afternoon soap operas of sister network ABC every day in primetime.

The purpose of NBC’s 10 one-minute movies is to try to keep people with twitchy thumbs from switching away from the network during commercial breaks. NBC will plant these one-minute movies within a commercial pod and hope viewers will be intrigued enough to keep their mitts off the remote.

Blackwell said her strategy is different from NBC’s. “We’re a new network, so we want to try new things, to experiment,” she said.

Soapnet has filmed two six-minute stories. The first, called “Dating Doogie,” is about a businesswoman who falls for her blind date, a skateboarding doctor, but discovers he’s much younger than she is.

The second, “Wannabees,” deals with a woman who becomes infatuated with a man she thinks is an impoverished artist; she’s taken aback when he turns out to be a noted writer. The director of both is Michael Mayer, who has done commercials and music videos, and the exec producer is Sheri Singer, former programming VP at Lifetime and Walt Disney TV.

Said Blackwell: “Each minute will be able to stand on its own, but it will also contribute to creating a serialized six-minute story.”

Every Monday, starting Aug. 25, a minute will premiere during a commercial break in the 8 p.m. hour. That minute will be repeated six more times each day for a full week. A fresh minute will make its debut the next week. Blackwell said the exact time of each one-minute showing will not be specified in Soapnet’s promotion because viewers will get plenty of opportunities to see the episodes.

Blackwell said the “one-minute soap” will not come out of programming time, but instead out of a mix of commercial and promotion time.