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ABC soaps won’t continue online

Prospect Park abandons 'OLTL,' 'AMC'

Prospect Park is abandoning a plan to keep long-running ABC soaps “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” alive by moving them online.

The company issued a statement Wednesday confirming it had pulled the plug. “It is with great disappointment that we are suspending our aspirations to revive ‘One Life to Live’ and ‘All My Children’ via online distribution.”

Prospect Park, led by Jeff Kwatinetz and Rich Frank, had been working since July to start The Online Network as a home for the canceled soaps. But after months of mostly negative speculation, the complexities of keeping the production on par with its TV scale proved to be too much.

“The contractual demands of the guilds, which regulate our industry, coupled with the program’s inherent economic challenges ultimately led to this final decision,” according to the statement.

However, both the Writers Guild of America West and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists issued statements of their own in response to Prospect Park’s decision that characterized matters differently.

“We were disappointed to learn that Prospect Park’s financing fell through,” read a WGAW statement. “Prior to the end of last week, we were close to a fair deal for the writers.”

AFTRA’s statement suggests Prospect Park didn’t follow through on initial negotiations. “We were perplexed and disappointed that for the past month Prospect Park has not responded to our repeated inquiries to resume those discussions.”

Thus ends a last-ditch effort that would have breathed new life into two series whose demise has been lamented by many soap-opera fans. However, ABC and other networks who have canceled soaps made the difficult decisions to end them citing increasingly unjustifiable expensive production costs in the face of declining auds.

The migration of these soaps to digital platforms will leave questions as to whether new media represents the haven for canceled series its often made out to be. However, just last week Netflix did manage to put together a deal to bring Fox comedy “Arrested Development” back on air, albeit years after its three-season run came to an end.

Producers for “OLTL,” which is scheduled to end its run in January 2012, may be left with some creative rejiggering to do now that its second life online isn’t happening. Sources indicated that the series was to end on a cliffhanger in order to whet appetites for its continuation online; now those narrative strands will likely be wrapped up on ABC instead.

Since “AMC” ended its historic run in September, ABC has introduced lower-cost talk show “The Chew” to its daytime lineup. Once “OLTL” signs off, it will be replaced by a second talk show, “The Revolution.”

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