Lisa de Moraes
Lisa de Moraes
The TV Column

‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ are spared and will move to Web

Emily Yahr - STARZ re-creates a March of Soulless in the District to promote the start of “Torchwood: Miracle Day.”

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes — or the cockroaches you just cannot kill, depending on your perspective — ABC’s long-running, destined-for-cancellation soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” turn out not to be terminal after all.

ABC announced Thursday that it had sold online rights to the two soaps to a Hollywood production company that wants to keep them going as Web series.

More from Lisa de Moraes

Pulitzer Prize winner, Peabody recipient, Medal of Freedom honoree -- Lisa de Moraes is none of these, but she is an authority on the bad direction, over-acting, and muddled plot lines being played out in the TV industry's executive suites.


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ABC announced in April that it was driving a stake into “Children” and “One Life” to launch two new “The View”-esque daytime shows. One is about all things food, stars a bunch of foodies and is called “The Chew.” The other is about people trying to lose weight and stars the inimitable fashion guru Tim Gunn, among others; it’s called “The Revolution.”

ABC will carry on with its plans to broadcast its final episode of “All My Children” on Sept. 23 and will air the final episode of “One Life to Live” next January. After that, the decades-old soaps will use the same cast, crew and talent in making the move to the Web.

“ ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ are iconic pieces of television history that captivated millions of fans since their beginning over 40 years ago,” Brian Frons, president of daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, said in Thursday’s announcement. “Each of the shows have made an indelible mark on our culture’s history and informed our consciousness in their own way. We are so glad [production company] Prospect Park has assumed the mantle for these shows and that they will continue for the fans.”

Important factoid: One founder of Prospect Park is Rich Frank, who used to run TV operations at Disney, which owns ABC. He is partnered with Jeff Kwatinetz in Prospect Park, which produces the USA network series “Royal Pains” and FX’s new comedy series “Wilfred.”

The audience still commanded by those two soaps might be too small for ABC’s ambitions these days but would go a long way to help launch a new, it’s-TV-only-on-the-Web venture. That includes those rabid fans who have been e-mailing, letter-writing and phone-calling to ABC suits, Disney suits and The Reporters Who Cover Television in an effort to save their soaps.

Agnes Nixon, the creator of both soaps, said in a statement Thursday that she is “so happy for our loyal fans, whom we love so much, and who have been so supportive over the last 40 plus years.” “One Life to Live” was born in 1968 and “All My Children” in 1970.

When it announced plans to kill both shows, ABC promised to “honor” the “core, passionate audience and their rich history” by plowing them under “in a manner that respects their legacies and the longstanding hopes of many of their viewers.”

Plus, Frons put on his wistful face and noted: “While we are excited about our new shows and the shift in our business, I can’t help but recognize how bittersweet the change is.”

Still sensing a coming outrage — although they may be dwindling in numbers, soap fanatics are crazy passionate — ABC in its announcement wasted no time in blaming the changes on “extensive research into what today’s daytime viewers want and the changing viewing patterns of the audience.”

The K Street undead

Washingtonians, so warm and welcoming to visiting zombies back in the fall, were sadly less hospitable to visiting death-mask-wearing, anti-immortality advocates Thursday, reports WaPo TeamTV’s Emily Yahr.

Pay cable network Starz unleashed a small masked army of The Soulless on downtown Washington — part of a multi-city blitz to promote Friday’s premiere of its “Torchwood: Miracle Day” miniseries. It’s the latest installment of BBC’s sci-fi drama “Torchwood.”

In this 10-episode installment, something happens on one red-letter day, and everyone stops dying. All around the world, nobody hands in a dinner pail. It’s the same story the next day, and the next, and the next. Sounds great, except the people do keep aging; they just can’t die.

That, of course, is cataclysmic. Movie-theater chains and Long John Silver’s restaurants will go under as they honor all those senior-citizen discounts. Television networks will crater because advertisers refuse to pay to reach older viewers. Who or what is behind this vast conspiracy? The answers lie within an old secret British institute, Starz hints.

Anyway, in the series, a group of masked protesters, known as The Soulless, marches in protest of this “miracle.”

As some of The Soulless were sent to Washington, they were met with a less-than-friendly response, Yahr reports. Washingtonians were taking a firm pro-immortality position and letting The Soulless know about it in no uncertain terms as they marched down K Street, from McPherson Square toward Georgetown, bumping into parking meters and fire hydrants — periodically stopping to fix their hair when it got caught in their death masks.

“You’re really taking up a lot of room,” snapped one woman with a small child in tow, to one of The Soulless.

“I’m not interested,” grumbled a guy eating lunch on a bench in Farragut Square when approached by one of the mortality advocates.

“BOOO!” roared a herd of prepubescent schoolchildren from their bus careering down Connecticut Avenue. Those TV critics in the making gave the group a collective hand gesture out the bus windows. On the bright side, it involved only pointing their thumbs down.

Back in October, another TV network — AMC — sent a horde of zombies to terrorize the people of D.C. with an invasion of the Lincoln Memorial, only those interlopers were politely informed by Park Police that they could not invade the memorial without a permit. That was disappointing, but the zombies were determined to make the best of things, so they took a stretch limo to Georgetown to make a light lunch of President Obama, they told Yahr back then. Except, the president was not available to be dined on, so they amused themselves by chasing their own limo around the picturesque neighborhood for a while.

Around the Lincoln Memorial and in Georgetown, Washingtonians had taken kindly to the creatures, laughing, waving from their vehicles as they rushed to the office and recording on their cellphones their encounter with the undead.

Thursday’s March of The Soulless was somehow less festive: These zombies looked more like student protesters — business suits, jeans, khaki shorts, sensible sundresses.

And for a bunch of people stressing the advantage of death — and toting signs that read “Death Ends” and “Save Us” — they sure did complain a lot about the heat.

“Oh, it’s a TV show,” one commuter concluded after being handed a stress ball that had the name of the Starz network and “Torchwood” on it. But The Soulless had been told not to respond because, as the group leader reminded Yahr, it was supposed to be a solemn march with souvenir stress balls.

By the time Yahr left the marchers, they were headed toward Georgetown Cupcake.

ABC hires Smart

Elizabeth Smart, famous kidnapping and media-frenzy victim, has been signed as a contributor by ABC News, where she will be available on all programming platforms across the news division, including “Good Morning America,” “Nightline” “and everything in between,” an ABC News rep told The TV Column on Thursday.

The question being posed late Wednesday, when word of the deal first got out, was: Is this a way for ABC News to lock up Smart as an exclusive “get” on the pretext that she’s some kind of abduction specialist — as TV networks fight to get the best angle on missing-child cases, which are ratings magnets.

You know, like the story of little Caylee Anthony, whose decomposed body was found and whose story turned into a sensational murder trial. Caylee’s mother, Casey, was found not guilty of first-degree murder and other charges Tuesday in what was mostly described in the media as a “shocking” verdict.

But the ABC News rep preferred to think of it as Smart being hired to “help viewers better understand missing-person stories as someone from the perspective to really know what the family experience is when a loved one goes missing.” And she told the TV Column so, adding: “We cover missing-persons and missing-child cases fairly frequently and to have someone like Elizabeth, who can help bring those stories to life for our viewers, and give them a greater understanding, is tremendously important.”

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