Friday, June 22, 2012

Interview: Genie Francis Discusses Future of Soaps

It’s a subject that’s on every daytime-soap fan’s mind but is afraid to bring up. It seems lately all you hear about are favorite stars being let go from soaps — Jack Wagner, Patrick Muldoon, Eileen Davidson, etc. — either in a cost-cutting move or story-line-related move, all in a fervent attempt to keep said soap from facing the chopping block come renewal time. I spoke with soap-opera veteran Genie Francis recently about this subject, and she gave me an enlightening look into what she thinks could save soaps and what the future for soaps might bring.

Daytime Dial: In recent years, we’ve lost “As the World Turns,” “Guiding Light,” “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.” Do you think it’s possible to save the remaining shows from the chopping block?

Genie Francis: It’s hard to say whether we’ll be able to save those shows and for how long. Our audience has really dissipated, and I think that’s because people are moving much faster than they ever have before. Nobody sits down in the afternoon and watches television unless they’re retired or home ill. People just don’t have the time. It’s a shame to see it dwindle as much as it has. I think what it may come down to is each network maintaining one show.

DD: It’s almost come to that already, with ABC having only “General Hospital” and NBC with “Days of Our Lives.”

GF: Right. I was glad to hear about “GH” getting another year. I hope this will give the new creative team the time that they need to fix that show. It’s a really hard thing they are doing, and it’s not something that you can snap your fingers and make happen. My hope is that those people who are really good people — really smart producers and writers — will get the time that they need.

DD: Not to jinx anyone, but the only one I don’t worry about is “The Young and the Restless.”

GF: Yes, they’ve come up a little in the ratings a bit this past month. They’ve been No. 1 for more than 20 years — I think it’s 23 years — and there’s a reason for that: They have found their audience, they’ve been really loyal to that audience, and I think they also keep their stories moving very quickly. When you turn on the show, you will see something happen.

There’s awareness now in television writers’ mind-sets that people have a short attention span nowadays. We’re impatient. The writers have really changed the way they write to keep a story moving quickly. I watched it the other night — I had it taped — and I watched the whole episode, and then I turned on a nighttime cable show, and “Y and R” was every bit as compelling, watchable, moved as quickly, acted as well, written as well. I just have to say that I think that the people in charge over at “Y and R” are doing a really good job, and that’s what it’s going to take. People are going to have to work harder to try to maintain the audience they’ve got.