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Sharongate, bitches!

A lot of it is a bunch of crap and some of their details are way off, but here's TV Guide's list.


Soap Power 2007: The 15 Most Influential Players in Daytime!


By Nelson Branco
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Who’s got the power and who wields it for good and evil? Find out in our first annual power list

While some may argue that “soap power” is an oxymoron, we beg to differ, which is why we are presenting our annual power list of the 15 most influential players in daytime on and off the camera.

Our criteria? First, it was the all-mighty ability to affect cash flow and ratings. Second, reach of power and how many shows an individual impacts was also paramount (i.e., If you write and produce your show or shows, you boast the ultimate power — autonomy). Third, a little something called talent, vision and fearlessness — which may or may not be valued by certain network suits — which boosted specific daytime power sources. The ability to inspire a genre can never be underestimated. Read on below to find out who experienced a power malfunction, and who wielded their authority for the greater good.

Brian Frons is No. 1
President ABC-Disney Television Group, President SoapNet

Why: Because he said so — seriously! Frons oversees and manages four ABC soap original series, along with the increasing original programming on SoapNet. Simply put, the buck stops here, and he approves everything you see on your stories from casting to production to budgets. ABC owns all of its soaps, which allows The Wizard of Oz to exact his vision. Also, Frons runs his network like an old Hollywood movie studio executive – and you don’t want to get on his bad side. Most important, Frons is a true soap fan; he takes his work home with him.

Power Plays: Hiring Ron Carlivati as OLTL’s new head writer, who was able to bring substance and depth back to daytime within two weeks; successfully launched a GH spin-off, Night Shift on SoapNet, the network’s most successful series ever and basic cable’s No. 8 most-watched show among key demo, women 18-49, which is amazing considering its distribution. Word is that the cabler is thinking of creating AMC and OLTL spinoffs, which would firmly cement the future of his franchise. With soaps dwindling on network TV, cable and satellite TV options may just be the industry’s only hope for a survival. Frons is thinking outside the box to secure the future of daytime drama — and CBS and NBC aren’t.

Liabilities: Micro-managing his soaps; has a thing against veterans over 40; and the majority of his soaps revolve more around plot than character.

Outlook: Strong, now that AMC fired Megan McTavish (it needs a new producer, stat!), and OLTL is the best soap on daytime TV, while GH remains the most popular.

Executive Producer/Head writer, The Bold & the Beautiful

Why: Bell is the creative successor — and heart and soul — of the William Bell soap opera royal dynasty. No one is more respected in daytime than someone with the Bell surname.

Power Play: Hiring publicist Eva Demirjian to pen soap’s 20th anniversary book; stealing top talent from sister soap Y&R, like Eileen Davidson, Jennifer Gaeris, Heather Tom and former headwriter Kay Alden; hiring famous actors like Betty White and Patrick Duffy in key roles; gives the best writer in the business Patrick Malchaey free reign; and his soap just launched in the U.K., further ensuring B&B remains the most watched daily serial in the world. No one in daytime can compete with the kind of revenue the second-highest rated soap, B&B brings in, especially in foreign sales. Plus, Brad’s the sweetest, most modest, most sincere, loyal, and beautiful human beings in the world and brings a welcomed touch of Camelot to daytime.

Liabilities: His half-hour timeslot is beginning to affect the credibility of his show because of the incestuous romantic pairings — this soap needs more families and non-Forrester characters (pairing Taylor and Nick was a mistake because Bell used up two valuable non-Forresters in one pairing). A long-term strategy and direction needs to be in place when it comes to Brooke Logan, who is in peril of becoming one of the most frustrating and maligned character in daytime history. Moreover, Bell should’ve hired his former B&B co-head, Jack Smith, who left to pen Y&R, instead of Kay Alden as a second-in-command. We have a feeling because it is the No. 1 soap in the world, Bell wants to keep his soap light, frothy, and campy to appease his sophisticated European audiences, even to the derision of his more serious American audiences. Perhaps, more of a balance is needed. Also, Bell needs to introduce diverse characters like gays and blacks — but again, that’s mostly a timeslot issue.

Outlook: Unlike 2006, 2007 was an arduous journey, but the future looks bright. At 20 years young, this soap still considered fresh and new.

Executive Producer/Head writer, The Young and the Restless

Why: She writes and manages daytime’s No. 1 soap — what she says, goes — like it or not.

Power Play: Convincing some moron to give her the reigns on the entire show — and getting away with hacking away the heart, soul, and integrity of daytime’s late, great soap with a single pen. Even the Bell family dynasty seem powerless against her wrath, which may explain why Brad Bell is eager to steal Y&R’s top talent before it’s too late. We’ll give her credit for increasing the pace of the show, though.

Liabilities: Firing or forcing talented actors to quit. Y&R used to have the most reliable, loyal and consistent cast in daytime. LML relies heavily on plot-driven stories instead of character-defining tales. Gimmicks are the only weapons in her creative arsenal.

Outlook: Be very afraid.

Head writer, General Hospital/GH: Night Shift

Why: Guza writes pretty much what he wants, even if it’s the usual, predictable mob-centric fare, while his exec producer Jill Farren Phelps produces the show he writes. It’s a perfect partnership.

Power Play: Juggling two successful soaps, GH and NS; creating a diverse canvas on NS; laying off the sweeps stunts for the latter part of 2007; saving Stuart Damon (Alan) by making him Tracy’s conscience; and a renewed focus on its hospital stories and characters. Frons has been quoted saying that if GH:NS returns for a second season, Guza and company will get more help so they don’t burn out.

Liabilities: Guza doesn’t have the power to bring back Genie Francis back full time as Laura Spencer; relies on too much violence; and refuses to write for veterans like Jacklyn Zeman or Leslie Charleson.

Outlook: Stable — this show isn’t changing its stripes anytime soon.

President, CBS Daytime

Why: She runs a relatively successful daytime schedule, even though her line-up is fragmented by three different owners.

Power Play: Allowing ATWT to forge ahead with daytime’s first gay love story between two men, Noah and Luke. Giving GL the chance to celebrate its 70th anniversary in true style, which generated a lot of mainstream press.

Liabilities: Although CBS doesn’t own any of its soaps (P&G owns GL and ATWT), Bloom needs to interfere with the power structure at Y&R and expand B&B to one hour. Super-sizing B&B only makes smart business sense: it would increase syndication fees, while justifying shrinking ATWT or GL to a half-hour. However, Bloom’s biggest crime has been allowing the formerly great ATWT to become one of the worst written and produced shows on daytime by keeping head writing hack Jean Passanante in charge. And dare we say it: perhaps it’s time exec producer Chris Goutman get his walking papers — this show needs a fresh new start (either that or steal Hogan Sheffer back from Days!). Goutman is one of those producers that is only as strong as his headwriter. Also, CBS needs a more effective marketing campaign because its current one is just lame.

Outlook: Rocky

Actor/Director, The Bold and the Beautiful

Why: Widely considered the best actor on daytime TV, La Flannery is also the most powerful performer on soaps. The entire show’s identity is based on her character, Stephanie Forrester’s psychosis — and if she were to ever leave, B&B would be an empty shell of it former self. Not even Susan Lucci (Erica) could bring AMC to its knees if she were to leave.

Power Play: When Flannery recently went on a sick leave, her power hold over the show was clearly evident. In fact, some industry insiders were scared Flannery would pull a Beverlee McKinsey (ex-Alex, GL) and not return over rumours that the daytime dynamo wasn’t thrilled with her character’s involvement regarding Brooke’s violent rape. B&B is about one thing and one thing only — Stephanie Forrester; without her, the show loses its historic relevance, heart, soul, and identity — and that’s a pretty powerful position to be in. She also directs the show, mentors the cast, and when she speaks to the press, everyone listens. No one in front of the camera is more respected than Flannery, who thanks to William Bell was given the role of her illustrious career so late in her career.

Liabilities: Stephanie Forrester is in danger of becoming a cardboard villain like Stefano DiMera. Plus, will Flannery want to act for the remainder of her life? We hope so, but we’re not sure.

Outlook: As long as she’s on B&B, it’s all good.

Executive Producer, General Hospital

Why: Whether you like her or not, JFP steers the GH ship with precision, skill, and a lot of ego. Although she sometimes contributes to the writing process, she pretty much allows Guza and company to write their own show. She knows her job is to transfer the written word to the screen, and for the most part, does an excellent job.

Power Play: Managing one cast and crew to produce two hit shows this past summer; and working around big star schedules like Anthony Geary (Luke), who takes a four-month vacation each year. JFP also proves she could easily produce nighttime fare with the highly stylized, ethnically diverse, and fast-paced NS on her resume.

Liabilities: Other soaps, like Y&R, are on to the winning JFP formula, and are stealing Emmy Awards from executive by beating her at her own game. JFP needs a new gimmick, quick because everyone’s on to her now. Inevitable burn out, along with tough casting decisions, and budgets may drive JFP to drink herself to an early grave (we’re kidding about the drinking). Finally, the industry is beginning to turn on GH, especially when it comes to honouring the series at the Emmy Awards. Last year, GH wasn’t even nominated for Best Series, when it deserved to be.

Outlook: Coasting.

Head writer, One Life to Live

Why: Carlivati is an inspiration, and has made the industry stand up and take notice by penning daytime’s best soap. His assignment proves that new blood is needed in this genre — and that being a fan of the show you pen should be a given, not a liability. Ratings have increased since he’s taken over (the soap hit No. 3 during its acclaimed 10, 000 episode anniversary episode, and is performing well in demo’s). Thanks to Carlivati kicking soap butt on OLTL, other shows will hopefully follow ABC’s lead and hire talented, younger writers to elevate the quality of its scripts instead of recycling old talent. And for anyone who has to endure watching Megan McTavish reign of terror on AMC, you know that’s a powerful influence that can never be taken for granted.

Power Play: Mining OLTL’s history, redefining his characters so they make sense, salvaging dead-on-arrival plots into sensational masterpieces, bringing romance and humor back to the forefront, and remembering veterans, and old-time favourites in his trademark umbrella storylines. And let’s not forget his biggest talent: glorious dialogue that literally sings off the page.

Liabilities: Nada.

Outlook: Excellent — look for him to move up this list next year if he continues to impress, entertain, and charm us with life in Llanview.

Co-executive Producer, Days of Our Lives

Why: For 20 years, Scott’s vision kept Y&R at the top of daytime, but he was canned in favour of head writer Lynn Marie Latham as executive producer. Now he’s on Days, intent of saving the soap from cancellation in 2009. If he succeeds, he’ll be compared to the late, great Gloria Monty, who catapulted GH to first place in the ratings from the lowest place in one year.

Power Play: "Killing" off John Black; stealing top talent from Y&R; streamlining production to be more effective and efficient; more rehearsal time. Scott needs to allow headwriter Hogan Sheffer write the show the way he wants, and keep Ken Corday out of it.

Liabilities: Corday and NBC.

Outlook: It’s a long shot in terms of saving Days by 2009 — but you never know when a miracle may rear its head. If Scott can manage to steal Y&R’s top acting talent and former writers (hello: Jack Smith!), he may have a better shot at increasing his soap’s survival.

Editorial Director, Soap Opera Digest/Soap Opera Weekly

Why: Leahey runs two of the most prominent soap opera magazines, choosing which soaps are publicized in supermarkets and newsstands — which is priceless advertising even if no one buys the magazines, those soap stars featured on the cover become like mini-billboards. Her journals keeps viewers engaged in an industry losing audience members each day.

Power Play: Digital magazine edition, and improved new website show they’re finally changing with the times. Moreover, SPW and SOD are star-making machines in terms of the way they promote daytime stars. Their magazines also allow the industry to see test the climate in daytime regarding everything from storyline feedback to casting decisions.

Liabilities: Like the soaps, a decline in viewership and the realities of online alternatives, haven’t helped PriMedia’s two soap titles over the past decade. We’re also hearing rumours that Soap Opera Weekly may fold and turn into an online news site/blog. Losing the Soap Opera Digest Awards on NBC a few years ago also affected the empire’s stature in daytime (hey, SoapNet why not air them again and throw daytime a bone?). Ugly, composite cover makes them look like tabloids instead of soap magazines. It’d be better if SPW and SOD were owned by two separate companies, so they could compete and up their game. And why does SPW editor, Carolyn Hinsey boast two editorial columns in both magazines? Surely, there’s someone else one of their two mastheads that has an original thought of their own.

Outlook: Rocky.

Actors, As the World Turns

Why: The world is watching how this storyline is developing, and Hansis and Silbermann’s acting and chemistry are vital to this groundbreaking story’s success. If this experiment fails, it will likely spell the end of future same-sex romances. So far, it’s been a big hit.

Power Plays: Hansis and Silbermann get props for not shying away from their highly-publicized kiss, which was sexy and authentic. Most actors would be scared to tackle on a risky gay romance, but both actors have risen to the challenge and should be commended for their hard work and dedication. Hopefully, they’ll inspire other actors on daytime to act instead of posturing. Magic can still happen on daytime, and these two whippersnappers prove that each day. Also, thanks to Nuke, ATWT could sweep next year’s Emmy Awards if it’s smart with episode submissions. Also, GLADD is behind the soap, and mainstream media giants like Entertainment Tonight, and Perez Hilton are promoting the storyline all on their own. Also, fans are so obsessed with the couple that they’re documenting every scene Nuke have shared on YouTube.com. You can’t buy this kind of publicity and devotion. Nuke have single-handedly also brought back genuine romance and chemistry back to daytime.

Liabilities: Initially, Nuke’s romance was plotted and written very well, despite their lack of screen time — which has been criminal. However, ATWT’s head writer Jean Passanante has begun to script contrived and cliché plot twists for the couple, which could threaten their credibility and integrity down the road. Finally, Silbermann’s acting has come under fire lately.

Outlook: Promising.

Columnist/Critic, TV Guide U.S./TVGuide.com

Why: Logan’s soap column is read by millions each week in TV Guide U.S. Publicists, desperate for TV Guide real estate, offer him story and casting exclusives first. Logan’s writing is frothy, entertaining, enlightening, and always respectful. Most important, unlike the soap magazines, Logan can’t be bought or blackmailed. Often, publicists will threaten soap editors into carrying out a network’s agenda or else access is cut off. Logan is free to write what he wants without consequence — and isn’t that the ultimate power?

Power Plays: Logan’s fearless and honest — he calls the industry on its weaknesses, and isn’t afraid to voice unpopular opinions despite fan retaliation. Moreover, Logan can make or break an actor’s career with a simple stroke on his keyboard. Also, no one breaks news faster than this old-school journalist and critic.

Liabilities: The fans love to hate him (can you say Jax faster than Logan these days?), but that’s exactly why he’s so successful. However, like many of us, over the past few years, Logan appears to be losing his passion and patience due to poorly-managed and written daytime fare. Although he probably didn’t want the job, SoapNet was dumb not to cast Logan as a judge on I Wanna Be A Soap Star — forget Michael Bruno, Logan’s the Simon Cowell of the soap world. How cool would it be to see Logan twirl his trademark mustache and bark, “You’ve been killed off, honey — next!”

Outlook: Logan will continue to blaze forward, taking the soap industry to task for its screw-ups, while acknowledging and praising worthy attempts. If another soap magazine folds, Logan will have a strangle hold on daytime criticism and breaking news.

Casting Director, General Hospital/GH: Night Shift

Why: If you’re an unknown actor, or a soap veteran in need of a comeback, Mark Teschner is your man. If the daytime vet casts you on GH, your career is pretty much set in stone both on daytime and prime time if you have talent and charisma. Since 1989, he’s discovered the likes of Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda), and Sarah Brown (ex-Carly). Also, being on GH translates into a lot of soap magazine covers in your future and a solid fan base that will follow you anywhere.

Power Plays: By casting a diverse canvas on NS, Teschner will hopefully inspire more racially diverse casts on daytime. Last year, he finally won his much-deserved Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting after four failed attempts. Teschner was able once again to show off his casting prowess and recasted Carly Corinthos for an umpteenth time with risky choice Laura Wright to great success. Also, hiring character actors like Bradford Anderson (Spinelli) and Sonya Eddy (Epiphany), who became fan favourties, proves Teschner’s weight in gold.

Liabilities: Zero.

Outlook: Excellent.

Actor, Guiding Light

Why: Zimmer boasts four Emmys for playing iconic heroine, Reva Shayne Lewis, and is well-loved and respected in the industry and the press. While network executives fear the sexy scrapper’s unflinching honesty with the fans and the press, this diva enjoys complete autonomy in an industry completely devoid of it.

Power Plays: Zimmer’s most heroic act has been refusing to take a substantial pay cut — and threatening to walk off the show. She went to the press with this injustice — and came out the winner when P&G predictably relented. Zimmer inspires other actors in the genre to stand up for themselves and own their worth.

Liabilities: Yes, she’s a troublemaker, but no one can deny she’s a team player. Balancing the two has been difficult, but Zimmer’s beginning to master it. The GL star was taken to task for stating she wouldn’t submit herself for Emmy consideration this past year if she won in 2006. She did anyway, and in the end, everyone applauded and understood her about-face.

Outlook: Excellent. Not only is GL doing better in the ratings, but Zimmer’s also enjoying a renaissance of sorts on GL and isn’t dragged down by ridiculous, plot-driven storylines anymore.

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2007

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