7/3/03 4:30 PM PT: This just in....
Port Charles Final Book, The Gift
ABC Announces Cancellation of Port Charles
MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2003. The ABC network announced late last Friday evening that they are pulling the plug on their freshman 30-minute soap, Port Charles.
Port Charles, a spin off of ABC's popular General Hospital, tried a number of tactics to lure audiences including a faster-paced storytelling format, winding plotlines up in a 13-week story arc, taping two shows a day for six months, with a six month hiatus, and introducing the macabre and otherworldly into daytime with vampires, slayers, angels and other higher beings.
Fans, worried about the possibility of cancellation, had recently mounted a write-in campaign via snail mail, to encourage the network to renew their favorite soap. See Your Letters. However, despite a recent Emmy nomination for Outstanding Daytime Drama, and a surprising show in the 4th Annual Soapdom Cybby Awards (results soon to be published at Soapdom), ABC felt that Port Charles was just not making enough money for them to renew it.
Rest assured that the cancelling of Port Charles was not an easy choice for ABC. "This was an extremely difficult decision," admitted Brian Frons, president ABC Daytime, and a strong supporter of Port Charles. "We were very pleased with the creative execution of the show, but the 30-minute format in this time period posed significant financial challenges, which ultimately led to this decision. 'Port Charles' allowed us to develop a wonderful stable of talent in front of and behind the camera, and it is our plan to place as many as possible throughout our other ABC Daytime shows. I am extremely grateful to everyone who played a role in developing, creating and making this show on a daily basis."
It was Frons' idea to have Port Charles air a special one-hour episode in the timeslot usually held by One Life to Live. The idea behind the unusual move was to bolster the show's ratings. For the week of June 16th, Port Charles notched a 1.6 rating, which equates to a little over one-and-a-half million viewers. That total is about one-quarter of the viewing audience of top-rated CBS soap The Young and the Restless and places Port Charles dead last among the ten soaps currently airing. Compared to a year ago, Port Charles' ratings are stagnant.
In recent weeks, Internet buzz had grown louder about Port Charles' fate. While several soap opera publications had previously reported on the renewal of the show by ABC, the network had never officially given the ratings-challenged soap a green light for another year. And, in the end, the financial challenges of producing the 30-minute soap led to its cancellation. The show, which is currently in hiatus, will not go back into production.
At this year's Daytime Emmy Awards, Michael Easton (Caleb Morley) and Brian Gaskill (Rafe Kovich) separately encouraged fans to write to ABC to voice their support. Though the show garnered an Outstanding Drama Series nomination at this year's Emmys, it was seen as a major disappointment when Port Charles lost the award to As The World Turns; Port Charles had been selected as a shoo-in by media outlets across the country. The show also failed to capitalize on any of its six other Emmy nominations.
With Port Charles's cancellation now confirmed, it looks highly unlikely that many of the show's characters would be folded back into the General Hospital roster, despite Fron's promise to try to use them elsewhere in the network's daytime line up. Port Charles started off as a closely-knit spinoff of General Hospital. In recent years it was the decision of the show's executive staff to move away from the kid sibling status and develop a niche of its own for the show. That, of course, led to the experimentation with vampires, angels and other atypical soap opera material. A Port Charles insider claims that only Erin Hershey Presley (Alison Barrington), Brian Presley (Jack Ramsey) and Nolan North (Chris Ramsey) have been told that they would be moved to General Hospital. Other long-time veterans, like Jon Robert Lindstrom (Kevin Collins) and Lynn Herring (Lucy Coe) are apparently not of interest back at their one-time home.
Port Charles debuted on June 1, 1997 and will air through October 3, 2003. Soapdom regrets the cancellation of this groundbreaking soap, and wishes all connected with the program success in future endeavors.
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