Rejoice, soap fans! ABC is keeping 'General Hospital'
It wasn’t as easy as ABC, but the Disney-owned broadcast network has given renewed life to its last soap opera, "General Hospital," while making moves to set the stage for the arrival of Katie Couric’s talk show in September.
Also making the cut is "The Chew," a food-oriented talk show that has been on since September and has attracted enough viewers on a regular basis to at least generally equal "All My Children," the long-running soap opera it replaced.
The loser in the shuffle is "The Revolution," a health and lifestyle talk show that never seemed to find an audience since its debut in January. It will end in July.
ABC confirmed the changes Wednesday.
After "The Revolution" departs and until "Katie" arrives in September, the ABC-owned stations will carry "GMA in the Afternoon," a spinoff of the morning franchise "Good Morning America," which will feature many of the same personalities. The afternoon show is likely to carry lighter fare except when there's a breaking news story.
"Good Morning America" has been making headway in the ratings and recently even topped its archrival, NBC's TODAY. That was on one day last week when Couric guest-hosted, a positive sign for her weekday syndicated strip.
(TODAY.com is powered by msnbc.com, which is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
"Katie," which premieres Sept. 10, will probably air at 3 p.m. on the ABC stations as well as on most other stations. The show, executive produced and run by former NBC topper Jeff Zucker, is expected to be a lifestyle talk show with a strong news flavor in keeping with Couric’s background and interests.
The "General Hospital" news is great for soap opera fans who complained after ABC last year announced the cancellations of "All My Children" and "One Life to Live," both of which ran for more than 40 years. This time, the network emerges as the good guy while still finding room for "Katie."
Brian Frons, who was in charge of ABC daytime when "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" were axed, has left the network. This new plan comes under Vicki Drummer, the executive vp who replaced him, and was approved by network boss Anne Sweeney.
A lot of the changes came about after "The Oprah Winfrey Show" went off the air. Winfrey's show was a mainstay on the ABC stations for 25 years. When she left, many of the stations extended their news shows to begin at 4 p.m., and there was resistance from those stations to give that time back. Now the hour "Katie" needs has been carved out without upsetting the stations.
"General Hospital, meanwhile, has been showing signs of renewed life in the ratings as it approaches its 50th year on the air, in part because fans of other soap operas needed a place to land. In late March, it was drawing more than 2.2 million viewers a day, respectable for the afternoon slot in a competitive marketplace.
"The Revolution," on the other hand, has been stuck on about 1.3 million viewers a day. It is hosted by Tim Gunn, known for "Project Runway"; fitness trainer Harley Pasternak; designer Ty Pennington; Dr. Jennifer Ashton; and Tiffanie Davis, who offers advice to women.
Lesley Goldberg contributed to this report.
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