Passions, Days, GH, ATWT, Y&R, AMC Oh My…

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Weird, wacky and prime time things ahead


Kelley Menighan Hensley (Emily, As the World Turns)What a year 2007 is shaping up to be.  First, NBC announces that Passions is cancelled, but recognizing the value of the brand, they will try to place it somewhere at some point and have asked us all to stay tuned. Meantime, the last scheduled NBC broadcast episode is set for early September.  It was likewise reported that at the upfront programming pitches to the advertisers in January, NBC president, now head honcho of all NBCUni, Jeff Zuker, commented that the future may be as bleak for Days of our Lives once its contract expires in 2009.  Days fans should not panic, however, as our network sources assured us that a lot can happen between now and then, and the fate of Days is in no way as dire as of this moment.

As one soap bites the dust, another is about to take wings and in prime time no less.   SOAPnet has announced a spin off to General Hospital.  Called “General Hospital:  Night Shift,” this prime timer will follow several of the GH characters' storylines as they work the night shift at the hospital.

"We are committed to growing the soap genre and the 'General Hospital' franchise by expanding its storyline only on SoapNet," said Brian Frons, president of daytime at the Disney-ABC Television Group. "General Hospital: Night Shift" will launch with "an audience that is already dedicated and compelled to know more about what happens on the night shift at the hospital,” he said.  That’s all well and good, but I say it remains to be seen.  General Hospital tried a spin off before. Does the cancelled Port Charles ring any bells? 

So far, “GH: Night Shift” has a  13-episode pick up.  At this point, we do not know which characters we’ll be seeing afterhours, but I have a feeling that Robin (Kimberly McCullough) and Patrick (Jason Thompson) will be among them.  Nor do we know at this time if it’s a 30-minute “Night Shift,” or an hourlong. 

The decision to launch new original programming in the form of this GH spin off comes on the heels of the SOAPNet cable network now appearing in 60 million homes – at last count.  "Night Shift" will premiere on the heels of a special episode of "General Hospital" on ABC.

While over at All My Children, Cady McClain (ex Dixie) revealed in a recent blog post that dealt with her being fired from the show (“and let’s not mistake the fact that that is indeed what happened,” she says), she reveals that the producer told her “AMC is going to become something totally different than it once was. It will be all new, all different. Why? I can only conjecture.”  

I am as lost as McClain on this one. All My Children already tried hand-held camera – much to the fans chagrin – and copious montages under hot new recording artists singing plantive melodies to name a few.  What else do the execs at AMC have up their sleeve?  Time will tell.

Okay so that takes care of ABC and NBC.  What’s new and weird and wacky at CBS? 

Only a offering called “LA Diaries” which features the Young and the Restless’ Amber (Adrianne Franz) and As the World Turns’ Alison (Marnie Schulenburg) with an ultimate appearance by ATWT’s Emily (Kelley Menighan Hensley). It’s a five-week series and takes place in a recent flashback sometime after Alison left ATWT in 2005 and before Amber arrived at Y&R last fall. Apparently, the two met while working at a dive bar in Venice, California where both young women resorted to a life of – get this – internet porn in order to make ends meet.

According to columnist Michael Logan in TV Guide Magazine,  “By Episode 2, they already have a stalker. It'll also be revealed that Alison got hooked on crystal meth (!!) after splitting Oakdale. What's more, ‘LA Diaries’ will kick off a big story on ATWT: On March 21, Alison's sister Emily, who recently became a hooker, will watch porn with one of her johns and spot Alison on screen. Freaking out, she'll hightail it over to Y&R on March 27 to grill Amber about Alison's whereabouts. When Alison finally returns to Oakdale in April, the soap will look at why both Stewart sibs have become bods-for-hire.

‘”The Stewart family is unusual in that it's entirely female right now," notes ATWT executive producer Chris Goutman. "Emily and Alison have a really low self-image, and we'll explore that. These are extreme, complicated women and we're taking them over the edge.’”

And it’s only February. What’s ahead for soaps for the rest of 2007?  We’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.