It’s been about a week since I finished the All My Children five week taping session and I have all they symptoms of stress to prove it! Anxiety, moments of depression, upset stomach, trouble sleeping, the list goes on… But there is a silver lining to every cloud and, as is my tendency, I am here to share it.
First off, AMC is like a family to me and that’s no joke. I started on the show when I was 19 and spent some of my toughest years (eight years of my mother’s illness and death) with many of the same cast members and production crew that I work with now. These people have been there for me and I have been there for them. They came to her memorial service, I went to their wedding. They talked me through bad breakups, I held their hand through their nervous breakdown. When I got fired in 2006, I went through a depression that I couldn’t understand. I still knew all these same people, I just wasn’t working with them anymore. So why was I so blue?
Then AMC started hiring me back for little bits and pieces. I was so sure that they would realize that I was the family member that wanted to come home and it was only a matter of time but it didn’t happen. Instead they hired me back as an angel. I mean, how much more dead can you be on a soap?
Finally, in 2011 they asked me back for a full time contract and well, you know the story. The soap got cancelled! It was a crazy ride, but you know what the main theme is in all this, at least for me?
I have never said “no” to All My Children. I have said, “I need a rest,” but never “No.”
I have never said no because deep down, I love this show, and all the people on it. It is as deep in my bones as I think it is in many of the fans who have been watching far longer than I have been related to it, which at 25 years is saying something. For those of you and, as I hope you can now understand, for me, AMC is a part of us. I know, it’s just a TV show, but it’s also something that got some of us through rough times in life and those relationships are precious, no matter how they come about or how you are related.
So I can understand that when Prospect Park brought the show back after ABC basically ripped the guts out of it, there was a lot of suspicion about whether or not it would still be the show so many of us remembered as “home.” Lets call this “Attack Phase One.” During this time fans expressed concern that 1) their favorite characters were missing, 2) they couldn’t figure out where to watch the show, and 3) they didn’t like news it would be more raunchy.
The issue of it being on the Internet was almost an entire phase in itself. Let’s call this “Attack Phase Two.” During this time people expressed concern that it 1) couldn’t be found in other countries, especially Canada, 2) wasn’t free (even though it IS on Hulu.com, and 3) they were losing the time based ritual of watching the show at 1PM.
It’s important to note that all of my online discourse was around these issues. The facts I stated again and again were these:
1) There are 17 core veteran characters back on the show, and the young people who are new are all related. New generations keep the show and Agnes’ legacy alive, which is how the show will stay on the air for 41 more years! A GOOD thing!
2) The show is available for FREE on Hulu.com. There are advertisements, but you can watch it ANYTIME, even at your regular 1PM time if you want, because it is online, not on cable. If you use Hulu+ you can watch it on a tablet or smart phone for a monthly fee, along with many other TV shows.
3) There would be a new show Monday-Thursday for both AMC and OLTL and the MORE show on Friday. If you couldn’t watch every day, you could watch 4-8 shows on the weekend. They made a deal with the cable company FX Canada based on this 5 day a week programming to help the Canadian fans get access to the shows since Hulu wasn’t available to Canadians yet.
Everything seemed to be going along nicely. In the two weeks that AMC and OLTL aired, we premiered at number ONE on Hulu and stayed in the top FIVE for all series over the three week period. It was a great moment. Even though it took everyone a few moments to find the shows and get used to watching them on the internet, once they did they jumped at the chance to watch. There was only one problem. Many people were missing shows. They just didn’t have the TIME to watch every single episode.
This included myself. How could I? I was working five days a week and by Saturday was so tired I spent the entire day in bed just emotionally and physically recovering. Sunday I could watch about two shows, but then I needed to get up and get out into the day, pay my bills, see a friend, watch my clothes … you know … life. It turns out my viewing patterns were far more the norm for the average AMC viewer. There were simply TOO MANY SHOWS TO WATCH. I couldn’t even add on OLTL … and I WANTED TO! I know a lot of people there as well and want to support it as much as possible… I JUST DIDN’T HAVE THE TIME.
Now I understand for some people, too much of a good thing is never enough. I get it. But the FACT IS, there are a lot of people who are passionate about the show who STILL were not able to watch ALL the shows, as well as a lot of NEW fans who couldn’t catch up and WANTED TO.
So Prospect Park decided to make a change. Because we are in our infancy as an Internet series, this change was something that was within their power to make. Although they had set a pattern, it hadn’t been set in stone yet. So they decided to show both series twice a week, giving us FOUR shows a week (2 AMC, 2 OTLT) for us to watch instead of EIGHT. It seemed like a really smart move. Let’s call this “Attack Phase 3.”
Oh yes, this was a fun one. I have to say my stomach dropped when I heard the news about the programming change. NOT because I thought it was a bad idea, NOT AT ALL. Because I knew that the people I LOVED to talk to on the Internet were going to have the same physical reaction I was….
Based on our shared history of our beloved show being sent down the tubes, radical changes mean LOSS. Loss feels like shit, let’s just cut to the chase. When someone “pulls the rug out” or does a “bait and switch” you feel a natural, physical, “punch to the gut” kind of feeling. I KNOW. I HAD IT TOO. But it is a reaction based on the PAST, not on the facts of the present.
In my past, I was fired. Then I was forgotten. At various times I have been loved and then treated like shit. I still have a wincing reaction when any news about the show comes out, like someone is about to punch my grandmother. But that is not happening. No one is punching Grandma.
The fact is: NOTHING IS WRONG. Let me say it again. THE SHOW IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE.
I have called Ginger Smith and talked to her. ALL of us actors have. Jeff K. has written to me, to the press, to many of us and assured us that EVERYTHING IS ALRIGHT. In fact, this change of FOUR shows a week is benefitting the production so much that it is making it possible for them to pay more attention to details that are going to end up in creating better shows. Better shows mean better story lines, more favorite characters, better budget, better sets, better everything.
IS THIS NOT A GOOD THING?
The one down side I know is that FX Canada couldn’t use the new two show a week programming as it didn’t work for them. The up side of that down is that both shows are now available on Canadian iTunes, so they are still accessible, just not on cable. It sucks, but it’s still available, and AVAILABLE is what matters, no?
So if you follow my emotional through line, I think we ALL felt like we were about to be suckered in: that the show begged us to come back, then we did, then they fired us or dumped us or kicked us or took advantage of us in some way BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT IS HAPPENING. REALLY.
I spoke to someone at PP who told me she CRIED when she watched last Monday’s show. That’s how much they are devoted and dedicated and attached to the same show that you, the viewer, are. Isn’t that lovely to know?
I understand the gut reaction, I really do. I have had the same kind of “WTF Is going on?” reaction until it was explained to me and it HAD to be explained to me several times until it finally sank in.
BOTTOM LINE IS THIS: YOU CARE. I CARE. PP and AMC and OLTL CARES. WE ALL CARE and that is a BEAUTIFUL THING. THE SHOWS are NOT going off the Internet because PP is making changes to KEEP them on in the most productive way possible to YOU the viewer. Caring means we aren’t dead, and not being dead means we can do something about the things that make us feel good and the things that really matter.
What matters? LOVE. Love is what matters most of all. So let’s love each other through this. Let’s all try to be a little kinder when changes come our way. You’re good people. I am not a terrible asshole (I think, I hope.) I try my best to keep connected with all of you because I believe in the power of the Internet to connect people in ways that matter, that can make a difference. I believe that sharing beauty and love through this crazy little machine can make the world a better place.
Listen: if you have called me a liar, an asshole, or told me I’m full of shit…. I FORGIVE YOU. You were mad. I get it. But maybe we can move on from here and not go back to that dark, angry place again. Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe we can all just take a breath and believe in each other, and in what the people who are behind AMC and OLTL are trying to do… bring us beautiful little gems that we can co-create together.
I know you can do it. I know we can do it.
I’m no guru, I’m just a person, a human being who happens to be an actor on a TV show who loves and believes in people. Let’s do our best and celebrate how nice it is to be brought together by these crazy little shows.
Thanks for listening…. if I missed a salient point, I apologize. I need to go outside now. Hope you have a great day.