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Article: New ABC Daytime President: Shapiro in Drag


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I'm not as enlightened with ABC soaps as I am with CBS/P&G/NBC soaps but in light of the cancellations of AMC and OLTL and things I've heard why I think this is interesting on ABC Daytime President Brian Frons from when he was first hired. I've included the full column to make an interesting read for everyone because it speaks of when Collins was hired for GL. Smith actually ended up liking Collins a lot in the long run in-spite of his misgivings here:

NEW ABC DAYTIME PRESIDENT: SHAPIRO IN DRAG

written by Tom Smith

Daytime News and Commentary

August 23, 2002

As you are no doubt aware by now, ABC has named Brian Frons the new president of ABC Daytime. There’s really not much to say here. The articles on him have been skimpy, pretty much restatements of an ABC press release with extra touches here and there. I guess we’ll have to wait for the sit down “in-depth" interview with Soap Opera Digest to get a better sense of where he stands. (I doubt he’ll be talking to TV Guide’s Michael Logan after the FMB fiasco.) The main point of interest to us soap fans is that Frons was the Vice-president of NBC daytime from 1983-89.

I don’t remember tons of specifics during that period, cause A: I was like 7 years old when he came aboard, and B: ours was basically an ABC household. Things that come to mind, besides that great game show Scrabble, are the wildly varying qualities of the shows during that period. DAYS became stuck in a formula of exotic adventure, supercouples, and larger-than-life villains. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Another World tried to find an identity after going into a tailspin in the early 80’s. Sometimes it worked (Cass, Kathleen, Felicia, Wallingford) and sometimes it didn’t (The Sin Stalker). Santa Barbara debuted. Search for Tomorrow was canceled. The common thread is that under Frons soaps were allowed to succeed and fail on their own. There didn’t seem to be a network-wide mandate that every soap do this or that.

Of course, that’s been true of nearly every daytime lineup until the past ten years or so. Times have changed, and youth and profits are what drive the current daytime landscape. And Frons has experience with both. Over the past four years, Frons has been senior Vice-President at the European based SBS network. There, according to the Hollywood Reporter, he helped make European versions of “The Mole”, “Fear Factor”, and “Big Brother” into hits. No wonder ABC wants him-they sure can’t make “The Mole” into a hit. Under Frons, SBS has posted record ratings, and he’s done it using the same types of reality shows that are attracting high numbers of young viewers here in the States. Will that translate into high numbers and improved demos at ABC Daytime? No, but ABC is stupid enough to think it will. What does Frons have planned anyway? According to The Hollywood Reporter, Frons says: “I will be looking to make changes within the programs we already have on the air. Soaps are the most flexible program format in the history of television. They have seen everything from high romance to science fiction, and they should reflect the reality and fantasy of the audience. I will be working closely with the creative people at ABC.”

Have you ever seen “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”? Aside from the obvious comparisons between that and ABC Daytime, Frons comments remind me of the Governor, who sings about how he sidesteps reporters' questions with meaningless quotes. Frons has said a whole lot of nothing here. BTW, The Hollywood Reporter tried to get Frons to elaborate, but he declined. Big surprise. Frons did note that ABC has broken new ground in adding revenue streams, saying: “ABC Daytime is one of the leaders in that area, so hopefully I will add to what has already started to take place under Angela Shapiro.” Frons also praised Soapnet, so I guess he and Gary Tomlin won’t be exchanging birthday gifts.

Frons also told Daily Variety he believes “ABC Daytime is the class act of the industry”. That may tell you all you need to know right there.

15 MINUTES OF SHAME

Kudos to TV Guide Online's Michael Ausiello for declining Roger Howarth's (OLTL's Todd-now and forever) offer of an interview--as long as he didn't ask Howarth any questions about his role as Todd. As Ausiello reported last Friday, " That was an offer we could - and did - refuse. Denying your soap past is so 15 minutes ago." The soap press rarely takes a stand on anything, so it's nice to see them not backing down on actors who want to deny their soap past like it's some kind of skeleton in the closet. Not that Howarth is escaping soaps--he's doing a few episodes of Dawson's Creek for crying out loud! What does he want to talk about? Prey? Dude, wake up. Remove Todd, and your career isn't that interesting. Oh, I guess he wants to do the standard interview. "Oh, it's great here on Dawson's Creek. Everybody is wonderful. My character is going to shake things up. It's only a few episodes, but it could lead to more. Damn, but there are some mosquitoes here in North Carolina. Hope I don't catch West Nile!" Snore.

ANOTHER DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO TURN BUZZ INTO RATINGS or JOAN COLLINS JOINS GUIDING LIGHT

In what is surely old news by now, Joan Collins has joined the cast of “Guiding Light” as Alexandra Spaulding. Surprisingly, there hasn’t been as much ink spilled over this as one might think. Nearly everybody seems to see it for what it is: An attempt to create buzz by bringing in someone from primetime to a daytime role. Well, "The City" didn't exactly takeoff despite Morgan Fairchild, and even though "All My Children" has had Jack Scalia for over a year now, AMC's ratings just keep on slipping. (Uh-oh. I just said something that could be construed as an insult to Jack Scalia--I hope his fan club doesn't sue me! Can you imagine if Jack Scalia's fan club and Bradley Cole's fan club teamed up? I think the results are written on one of the seven seals in the Book of Revelation.) Why bother? Alexandra Spaulding is not, as one article described, "your typical rich bitch". She is a complex character, one that Joan Collins can not possibly hope to pull off. Joan Collins has been doing a variation of Dynasty's Alexis since before Dynasty ever came on the air. That's not to say Collins is untalented or unentertaining. She's just a graduate from the Hunt Block School of Limited Range. If GL had to create some buzz, they should have brought Collins on as her own character.

Since this move reeks of Rauch, who has displayed a "Dynasty" complex since his days on "One Life to Live", my guess is that Lloyd Gold will be handling this one, and we'll get a bastardized version of Alexandra Spaulding. Even if Taggart handles it, I doubt Collins will be up to the task.

The irony here is that for the first time in many years, GL will actually write for the Alexandra Spaulding character. It was under current Executive Producer Paul Rauch that Alexandra became embroiled in that God-awful "Amanda is Alan's daughter" plot, and was subsequently shipped off. Rauch brought her back, only to ignore her for months, and then pitch a hissy fit when Alex's then-portrayer Marj Dusay moved over to "All My Children" without so much as a "by-your leave". Of course, considering the indignities Dusay is undergoing lately, she might have been better off as scenery in Springfield.

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Joan Collins has always played more than "rich bitch" - Alexis was far more than that, and so were many of her other characters. But like you said, he later praised her.

Those comments about Frons letting soaps be themselves are a sick joke.

I didn't know there was any Jack Scalia fan club going around praising him when he was at AMC. I wasn't looking on the boards as much at the time but honestly I don't remember anyone liking him.

(I think I confused Asiello with someone else...sorry)

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