The Honeymooners actress Sheila MacRae has died. The 93-year-old UK-born MacRae passed away March 6 , at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, NJ. She is best known to American audiences for her 4-year stint as Alice Kramden in the mid-’60s revival of The Honeymooners within The Jackie Gleason Show on CBS. In addition to her 1966-70 run as Ralph Kramden’s wife, MacRae was on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 with her then husband, singer Gordon MacRae, the night the Beatles debuted in America. The actress appeared on General Hospital in the 1960s and on NBC’s Parenthood TV series for the 1990-91 season. MacRae had a career on the stage as well in Guys and Dolls, Absurd Person Singular and other productions. One of her last acting appearance was in the one-women show An Evening With Sheila MacRae.
Just a short two years ago, General Hospital was staring down the barrel of cancellation as ABC took away its longtime 3 PM slot for the pricey new Katie Couric talk show. Now Katie is facing a demise, set to end its rocky two-season run in May, while General Hospital has been thriving. ABC does not officially renew its soaps, but I have learned that, not surprisingly, General Hospital will continue next season. That follows the announcements by CBS and NBC over the past week that they have renewed The Young And The Restless and The Bold & The Beautiful (CBS) and Days Of Our Lives (NBC). This means that the entire lineup of daytime dramas will remain intact as the genre experiences a resurgence. Consider this: All four soaps are in positive territory year-to-year. Leader The Young & The Restless (5.2 million viewers season to date, 1.5 in Women 18-49) is up 9% in total viewers and 7% in the female demo as it marks its 25th season as the most watched daytime drama. The Bold & The Beautiful (3.9 million, 1.1) is up 14% in viewers and even in W19-49. General Hospital (3.3 million, 1.4) is up 8% and 17%, respectively, as it closes in on Y&R in the demo, and Days Of Our Lives (2.4, 1.1) is up 10% in both categories. Days is delivering its best season in W18-49 in 3 years and biggest season in total viewers in 4 years. General Hospital is pacing for its best season in 7 years in total viewers and is on track to post a 3-year high in W18-49. During the most recent week of available data, the Jan. 7 episode of GH ranked as the series’ most-watched telecast in over 6 years.
Bold And The Beautiful and All My Children alum William deVry will be heading to ABC’s General Hospital this month. The actor, who’s recently appeared on CW shows Nikita and Beauty And The Beast, will play Derek Wells in a run starting on the soap’s July 30 episode. DeVry also recurs on Netflix’s Hemlock Grove. He is repped by Rothman/Andres Entertainment.
William Abadie (Ugly Betty, Samantha Who) has landed a role on Showtime’s Homeland. He’ll play Alan Bernard, a seemingly charming international journalist in a multiple episode Season 3 arc. The series returns September 29. Abadie is repped by Station3 Entertainment.
One of One Life To Live‘s most popular characters, Todd Manning, will be back, at least for a while. I’ve learned that Roger Howarth, who portrayed the character on the ABC soap, has signed to reprise his role on the series’ revival for Prospect Park‘s Online Network. But that doesn’t mean Howarth will be departing ABC’s General Hospital, where his character migrated after the end of OLTL. I hear Howarth has signed on to film OLTL for four weeks starting in late March. He then is expected to go back to General Hospital and continue as Manning.
Howarth is one of three OLTL actors who segued to GH after the show ended in January 2012, along with Michael Easton and Kristen Alderson. The three had been the subject of legal wrangling between Prospect Park and ABC as Prospect Park made it clear it wanted the actors back on OLTL, though it indicated it was willing to make a compromise by sharing the characters with ABC’s GH as the company is in a multimillion-dollar licensing agreement with the network for its two online soaps, OLTL and All My Children. For now, Howarth appears to be the only actor to have worked out such an arrangement.
What a difference a year makes. Between 2009 and 2012, daytime soaps went from 8 to 4, and by the end of 2012, Prospect Park’s effort to revive two of the departed, All My Children and One Life To Live, had hit a dead end. Then within the last month, NBC renewed its daytime drama, Days Of Our Lives, and Prospect Park got its plan for AMC and OLTL online series back on track. Now I hear that CBS is poised to renew The Bold And The Beautiful, and ABC has no plans to cancel General Hospital (the series is on a perpetual production track and doesn’t need formal renewals if the network wants to keep it on the air). CBS’ Young & The Restless, the highest-rated daytime drama, is two years into a three-year pickup, and casting and pre-production on AMC and OLTL is in full swing. That means that we will likely have more daytime dramas on next fall than we have this season — the first such year-to-year gain in 15 years, since NBC added Passions in 1998.
Daytime soaps’ improving fortunes is not a …
John Ingle, best known as patriarch Edward Quartermaine on ABC’s General Hospital, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 84. Ingle’s passing on Sunday was first reported by a family member on Facebook and General Hospital executive producer Frank Valentini confirmed the news on Twitter. “We love him and will miss him. John will always be part of the #GH family,” Valentini wrote. The Oklahoma native took on the role of Edward Quartermaine in 1993 after retiring as an English and theater teacher. He taught at both Hollywood High Beverly Hills High School until 1985. Among his students were Nicolas Cage, Richard Dreyfuss, David Schwimmer and Albert Brooks. Ingle was fired from GH in 2003 and the role of Edward was to be killed off, but outraged fans spoke out and he was rehired. He left the show for a couple years to play Mickey Horton on Days Of Our Lives. He returned to GH as Edward in 2006 and made his final appearance in an episode that aired just last week. His other television credits include Beverly Hills, 90210, Cheers, Dallas and Doogie Howser, M.D. His film credits include Heathers, Robocop 2 and Batman & Robin.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
The cast and executive producer of the ABC soap General Hospital appeared before critics this morning at TCA, looking and sounding like people thrilled simply to still have jobs. The fate of most of their cohorts on One Life To Live and All My Children weren’t so lucky, with only a few of the cast members — and producer Frank Valentini — absorbed into GH. It was touch-and-go whether even General Hospital would survive the ax. But it’s back, and as Valentini said, the fact a panel for the show was arranged shows a certain support for the show going forward. “They invited us here, and to me that’s a great sign,” he noted. “They’re behind this 100% and very excited about the 50th anniversary coming up. I’m pretty confident. You just need to watch the show to sort of catch the energy and the momentum that we have, and the network’s a big part of that.” One of the challenges for the show going forward is that it’s being displaced from its longtime 3 PM perch by Katie Couric’s new syndie talk show Katie. But Valentini did his best to put a positive spin on things, calling the time slot change “great” in that it will “shake up the lineup a little bit. And the network is doing a big push to inform the audience about the change.”
Surviving ABC daytime drama General Hospital will move into its new 2 PM slot on September 10 when it will serve as a lead-in for the premiere of Katie Couric’s new syndicated daytime talk show Katie, which will take over General Hospital’s long-time 3 PM time period. GH, which had to move out of the 3 PM berth, which had been promised to Couric, will inherit the 2 PM slot occupied last season by canceled lifestyle series The Revolution and, starting July 9 for two months by the Good Morning America offshoot Good Afternoon America. Approaching 50 years on ABC, General Hospital is the longest-running American soap opera currently in production and the third longest-running drama in American television history. It won a ton of trophies at Saturday’s Daytime Emmy Awards, including best drama series.
The nominations for the 39th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards were announced this morning. ABC received 56 nominations, ahead of PBS (51), syndication (46), Nickelodeon (40), CBS (33), and NBC (24). General Hospital‘s 23 nominations topped Sesame Street (16), The Young And The Restless (16), Days Of Our Lives (15), and The Ellen DeGeneres Show(12). National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Chairman Malachy Wienges says that negotiations are still taking place to have the June 23 awards telecast. The awards are presented by NATAS in cooperation with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Here are the nominees in the main categories:
Related: Daytime Emmys Headed To HLN?: Report
EXCLUSIVE: Soap fans can rejoice — I’ve learned that ABC will keep its only remaining daytime drama General Hospital on the air while canceling freshman talk show The Revolution. The news ends months of speculation about what will happen to the venerable soap whose long-time 3 PM slot will be taken over by Katie Couric’s new syndicated talk show in the fall. With Katie joining ABC’s daytime lineup, General Hospital and new lifestyle series The Chew and The Revolution, which replaced canceled soaps All My Children and One Life To Live, have been competing for two slots, with Disney-ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney stating early on that the two stronger performers will make the cut. Revolution, which currently occupies the 2 PM time period that will lead to Katie in most markets, never found its legs ratings-wise and will end its run at the beginning of July. For the following nine weeks, starting on July 9 until Katie premieres on Sept. 10, ABC will air a special Good Morning America-branded hourlong show alongside GH and The Chew. Details about new new program, tentatively titled GMA In The Afternoon, are still being finalized, but it is expected to be generally broader and lighter than the regular GMA unless there is a breaking story, which the afternoon show will jump on. The expansion of the …
UPDATE TURSDAY AM: No miracle bounce for Revolution, which slipped a fraction to a new series low of 1.32 million viewers for the week of March 19. General Hospital (2.25million) was steady, while The Chew (2.04 million) was down 5%.
PREVIOUS: With the deadline looming for ABC to make a decision about which shows will take the two remaining daytime slots on its schedule next fall, things are looking brighter for the network’s embattled soap General Hospital. It is still the least-watched among the four surviving daytime dramas on ABC, CBS and NBC, averaging 2.3 million viewers for the most recent week we have data for (March 12-16). But the series had a ratings uptick recently (it hit an 18-week high among women 18-49, 657,000, for the week of March 5, which featured the death of a character), and in the female demo, it’s been actually running ahead of NBC’s Days Of Our Lives.
But boosting GH‘s chances of survival the most is the poor ratings performance of new lifestyle series The Revolution. ABC has given the series time to find its legs — it only premiered in January — but I hear the network brass are starting to lose faith in the show, which hit series lows for the last two weeks with Nielsen data. For the week of March 5, it drew 1.4 million viewers, and for the week of March 12 — 1.33 million viewers. Compare that to 2.25 million for GH and 2.14 million for The Chew for the week of March 12; that 2.14 million was a 10-week low for The Chew but still dwarfed The Revolution’s viewership. The two lifestyle series were introduced this season as replacements for departing soaps All My Children and One Life To Live. While The Chew has consistently delivered more than 2.1 million viewers, peaking at 2.6 million in December, The Revolution never took off despite airing behind The Chew. What’s more, The Chew‘s ratings are actually on par with those of the soap it replaced, AMC, at a fraction of the cost, sealing the new show’s status as a keeper. Meanwhile, The Revolution is down 40% from OLTL‘s numbers.
With One Life To Live off the air and prospects for a new life online all but gone, four actors from the ABC soap opera have been snatched up by General Hospital to reprise their roles as part of a new storyline. Kassie DePaiva, Roger Howarth, Michael Easton and Kristen Alderson will head to Port Charles when the network’s last soap begins production later this month. The move was announced today by executive producer Frank Valentini, who along with head writer Ron Carlivati are OLTL alums who shifted to the same roles at General Hospital last month. Those pickups came after Prospect Park, which had acquired rights to OLTL and fellow scrapped soap All My Children, decided not to go forward with reviving the series online. “We have a very exciting story planned for the citizens of Port Charles, with Sonny Corinthos at the center of it. I am confident viewers and fans alike will be excited for the arrival of John (Easton), Starr (Alderson), Blair (DePaiva) and Todd (Howarth),” Valentini said. GH will mark its 49th year of broadcasting on April 1.
Cowboys & Aliens director Jon Favreau‘s promotional push for the sci-fi Western continues with a directing gig on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! Favreau, who spent the weekend at Comic-Con, will helm the Wednesday episode as part of a Cowboys & Aliens-themed week of JKL featuring interviews with stars Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde and Adam Beach. Other feature directors who have directed episodes of JKL include Quentin Tarantino, J.J. Abrams and Michel Gondry. Speaking of moonlighting, James Franco will be returning for yet another tour of duty on ABC’s only surviving soap, General Hospital, this time reportedly long-term. He will reprise his role as artist/serial killer Robert “Franco” Frank.
The Couric-Conan Parallel: Why ‘General Hospital’ Fans Could Hate Katie If Soap Cancelled; Plus Details Of Her ABC Deal
When Conan O’Brien began conversations with TBS in the spring of 2010, he had one condition that was non-negotiable: he would consider doing a show for the cable network only if the man whose time slot he would be taking over, George Lopez, stayed on. Word is TBS had been considering cancelling the modestly rated Lopez Tonight at the time but, in their quest for O’Brien, they decided to keep Lopez and moved him to a different time slot. ABC was in a similar position in its pursuit of another former NBC star, Katie Couric, giving her the 3 PM time slot occupied by the soon-to-be-only surviving ABC daytime drama, General Hospital. The difference is that the network wouldn’t commit to GHl continuing on the network when the Katie Couric show launches in fall 2012.
“We are not announcing the cancellation of General Hospital,” Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC TV Group said today, but also added, “It is important to look at daytime like we do at primetime — it really is about eyeballs, and we will go with the shows that have the most viewership.”
Is Big Media rewarding those writers who went back to work during the 2007–2008 Writers Guild strike? I know that several have since been promoted or received deals. Today, Disney’s ABC Daytime replaced Bob Guza Jr with Garin Wolf as head writer of General Hospital effective immediately. Not that Guza didn’t have an army of detractors among the soap’s fans. But while Wolf is certainly uber-qualified as the recipient of two Daytime Emmys and part of the GH staff for nearly 15 years, he also is infamous among daytime writers for opting to go Fi-Core during the WGA strike when he stepped in as GH head writer while his guild brethren were walking the picket lines. (Only a handful of WGA members went financial core, i.e. resigning from the union yet continuing to receive the benefits of the union contract.) Interesting how the ABC Daytime news release made specal mention of Wolf winning a Writer’s Guild Award for his past work on General Hospital – while not mentioning that the post-strike WGA excoriated Wolf as one of the “puny few who consciously and selfishly decided to place their own narrow interests over the greater good.”
Nominations for the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards were announced this morning. PBS and ABC led the field with 57 nominations and 56 nominations, respectively. Among programs, ABC’s General Hospital landed 21 noms. followed by CBS’ The Young and the Restless (20) and PBS’ Sesame Street (16). Recently canceled ABC soaps All My Children and One Life to Live scored 13 and 12 nominations, respectively. Among the talk shows, The Ellen DeGeneres Show was once again the leader with 12 mentions. Comedy Central’s The Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear got four. Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune and Alex Trebek of Jeopardy! will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards, while the host of another daytime game show, Wayne Brady, will be host the ceremony on June 19, which will be broadcast by CBS. Here are the nominees in the main categories:
FRONS SPEAKS: ABC Daytime Chief Explains Why ‘AMC’ & ‘OLTL’ Were Axed; Says ‘GH’ Is “Safe For Time Being”
EXCLUSIVE: ABC’s daytime president Brian Frons is the most hated man among soap fans today after the announcement that the network is canceling both All My Children and One Life To Live. He even quipped that he “pre-entered the witness protection program prior to today’s events.” The demise of the two venerable soaps was actually a year in the making, Frons tells me. “A year ago, we started to look at our projections where the ratings for the soaps would go,” he said. When those projections came in pretty discouraging, the network began to aggressively develop replacement shows, 15 of them. Four of the 15 were picked up to pilot: The Chew, The Revolution and two others, a talk show and a dating show. Originally, the idea was to cancel only one daytime drama, Frons said. But “the way the ratings developed and the pilots turned out, the ratings developed negatively and pilots developed positively, so we decided to make a bigger shift.”
The call to go ahead with canceling a daytime soap was made a couple of weeks ago, while the final decision to axe both AMC and OLTL was made within the past week, Frons said. He confirmed that there was a brief discussion about a year ago to combine the two soaps into one, bringing together some of the best characters from each series. “It was one of my craziest ideas,” Frons said. Other crazy ideas he had for the soaps’ slots? “I looked at (Bravo executive/talk show host) Andy Cohen and thought maybe I should have talk show.”
While ABC also developed more traditional daytime fare like talk and game shows, genres CBS recently used to replace its soaps The Guiding Light and As the World Turns, the network ultimately opted for more non-traditional fare with The Chew and The Revolution, both hybrid unscripted/talk shows. That was by design, said Frons, noting that he was following advice by his former boss at NBC Brandon Tartikoff not to go for shows others already have on.
“I wanted to do shows that were unusual for daytime,” Frons said. “What’s happening now is people are looking for information to make their lives better, they’re obsessed about what they eat and they’re obsessed with weight,” Frons said about going with The Chew and The Revolution, whose titles were chosen to complement ABC’s daytime talk show The View, with which they are designed to run in a “block of talk and information that you can build your day around,” Frons said. It probably doesn’t hurt that the new shows are also much cheaper to produce than the two soaps they are replacing, even after AMC was moved from New York to Los Angeles in 2009 to cut costs. Frons declined to discuss the size of the orders to The Chew and The Revolution but noted that “daytime shows take awhile” to take hold, indicating that ABC will give both series time to establish themselves.
As for the only remaining ABC daytime drama, General Hospital, it is safe “for the time being,” Frons said, adding, “We feel very positive about its place on the schedule.”
In the past couple of years, three daytime dramas bit the dust: CBS’ The Guiding Light and As the World Turns and NBC’s Passions. Despite constant rumors, ABC has been the only network not to pare down its daytime soap lineup, currently running 3 series, General Hospital, One Life to Live and All My Children, as many as CBS and NBC combined. It tested the waters a couple of times, including piloting a potential Aisha Tyler daytime talk show 2 years ago.
Now ABC seems ready to join CBS and NBC in cutting the number of its daytime dramas. All My Children appears to be the most vulnerable for cancellation, and there is speculation that it may be replaced by a a talk show in the fall. All My Children, which is in its 41st year on the air, recently posted two weeks of back-to-back all-time lows in the key Women 18-49 demographic, in which it is dead last among the 6 daytime dramas on the air, drawing paltry 463,000 for the week of March 7, down 34% vs. last year. For the same week, All My Children was also last in total viewers, averaging 2.32 million. (ABC’s One Life to Live did only marginally better with 2.36 million.) One reason for ABC to keep its 3 daytime dramas on the air was the fact that they were getting a second window on sibling cable channel SOAPnet. But with SOAPnet changing …