When ABC announced the cancellation of long time fan favorite soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live in the spring of 2011, all havoc broke loose. Passionate fans took to the internet, boycotted ABC's advertisers, called for the firing of then ABC Daytime head, Brian Frons (who spearheaded the cancellations), picketed the studio, did anything and everything they possibly could to let the network know just how unhappy they were with the network's decision to dump their continuing stories for the more cost efficient lifestyle and talk shows that were to replace the soaps.
One such loyal fan, Flo DiBona, has chronicled the events of this tumultuous time in her new book, Soapers.
Born in the Bronx, NY, DiBona grew up in the Hudson Valley, but California was always where her heart was. She relocated to southern CA, living in Redondo Beach, CA for many years. She now resides in Sacramento, CA. A global enterprise IT business consultant for over 25 years, with a recent focus on writing and creating artwork, DiBona is self educated. "I am a high school graduate with one semester of college," she shared.
Her first exposure to soap operas was through peer pressure in high school. "I had a girlfriend who watched," she said. "I started watching with her to keep up with the conversations about the show. Years later, when I first met my husband, he and his best friend watched All My Children religiously to see Susan Lucci as Erica Kane. It was hysterical seeing two guys so devoted to a 'silly' soap opera, and then I became hopelessly hooked."
The same things that hook everyone who is a soap fan, have kept DiBona passionate about her daytime drama all these years. "Soap operas are very personal. They are a home away from home filled with extended family. The stability of a familiar place with familiar faces five days a week can be a tremendous comfort and therapy. The ability to watch dramas unfold, unravel, and resolve without personal involvement can be an interesting and effective tool against stress and a temporary relief from it. Having a 'safe haven' of not needing to think or 'do' for a period of time can be a Godsend. It's funny, millions of people watch the same stories, often at the same time, yet when you talk to a soap fan they always refer to them as 'their show' or 'their story.'"
All My Children was DiBona's favorite soap opera and will always hold a place in her heart. "It had a mood and a tone to it that just felt good," she explained. "My favorite soaps are those that remember their roots, not just in the story itself, but in the why of the storytelling. I love soaps that don't take themselves too seriously but have morals to their story lines; where love conquers; where doing the right thing pays off."
Her current favorite soap is General Hospital because she has been visiting Port Charles on and off for many years and it is a fun show with great heritage and a talented cast and crew. "However, my new favorite soap as of Oct 15th will be 'The Young and the Restless." Why? It was already a top shelf show but luring Michael E. Knight (ex Thaddeus "Tad the Cad" James Martin, All My Children) back to a daytime soap opera will take Y&R to new heights for me." Soapdom is sure she is not alone in that thinking.
Over the years, DiBona has come to enjoy a number of favorite soap characters. "There are so many," she admitted. But on top of her list, there is only one. "All My Children diva Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) because she is Erica Kane! I love heroes who set examples, are role models, and exhibit traits for all of us to aspire to, and villains who are multidimensional and ultimately redeemable to stumble another day. But my favorite characters are those that bring humor and a sense of wonder to the pallet.
What inspired DiBona to write Soapers?
"Soapers equals The Soap Fans," she explained. "I wanted to tell this story for those who love soap operas and for those who put their hearts on the line to try to save them. I wanted to give voice to those who have deep, passionate feelings about their stories. I wanted to share their personal stories. I also wanted to dispel stereotypes of the genre and its fans."
So what exactly is the book about?
"Soapers is the story of a social movement that emerged in April, 2011 when Disney/ABC simultaneously announced the cancellation of All My Children and One Life to Live," DiBona shared. "At first soap fans were numb and in shock. Then they got angry. ...And then they got organized. 'Soapers' offers a 50,000-foot view of soap operas, soap fans, and the soap movement from their humble beginnings through resurrection on a new media platform and a second heartbreaking cancellation. In true soap opera style, it is a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs, twists, turns, victories, and defeats.
From the pages of Soapers, DiBona wants non-soap fans to come away with a new, more compassionate perspective and sense of the genre and its fans. And she wants soap fans to come away with a sense of recognition, pride, and community.
DiBona conducted her research for Soapers through the School of Hard Knocks! "The real challenge was trying not to get too much into the weeds with details," she admitted. "There is so much material already out there. I used Wikipedia as a starting point for dates and some show information. The soap fan stories that were shared came from hundreds that were submitted and shared publicly and privately. I chose a cross-section to reflect common themes in them."
Soapers is available at all major online book outlets such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and iTunes. US $7.99.
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