Thanks to falling ratings, a decimated soap line-up and the looming threat that is Katie Couric, it’s no secret that GENERAL HOSPITAL — the lone remaining daytime drama on ABC’s once-powerful line-up — is in danger. Fans already mourning last year’s loss of ONE LIFE TO LIVE and ALL MY CHILDREN are praying for a miracle… and they’re getting help from several sources.
“The show just hired Ron Carlivati, who was widely praised for his amazing work on OLTL over the past few years, to take over GH,” says Soaps In Depth executive editor Richard M. Simms. “And Frank Valentini, who was the executive producer at LIFE, has come over as well. So there’s a whole new, exciting, creative and — perhaps most important all — hopeful vibe where the show is concerned.”
But hope ain’t gonna boost the ratings, as has been proven time and again. “This is a really tough time to be a soap fan,” admits Simms. “It’s just shocking how many shows have been taken away. Since 1997, when we launched the magazine, we’ve lost AMC, OLTL, GUIDING LIGHT, AS THE WORLD TURNS, PASSIONS, THE CITY, PORT CHARLES, SUNSET BEACH and ANOTHER WORLD. There were 11 shows when we launched… now, there are four. We simply can’t lose another one.”
With that in mind, Soaps In Depth which has two extremely active Twitter feed (@soapsindepthabc and @soapsindepthcbs) has come up with a program called B.A.N.D. “It stands for Bring A Newbie Day,” explains the editor whose opinions on the various shows comprise most of the tweets sent out on the accounts. “We’re encouraging people who love GH — or the genre as a whole — to convince someone who maybe doesn’t watch GH to tune in today. I’ll be live-tweeting the East Coast feed at 3 p.m. and will be availble to answer questions newbies might have about who’s related to who or why people are fighting. And if I don’t know the answer to a question, I’ll send it out to our followers. I’m betting one of the 20,000 folks following us will know!”
Why start now? “One of the things Carlivati plans to do is introduce several characters from OLTL onto the GH canvas in the coming weeks,” explains Simms. “That means there may be OLTL fans who’ve never watched GH before, but are starting now so they can get familiar with the show before the OLTL folks show up.”
Simms says that B.A.N.D. will become a regular thing in the weeks to come. “Most people who already follow us know that I love, love, love to tweet while I’m watching the soaps. But a lot of times, I can’t do it live. Contrary to popular belief, I do have other things to do! So most days, it’s sort of catch-as-catch can. I might live-tweet THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS one day, and then wind up posting comments about DAYS OF OUR LIVES late at night when I’m watching at home. But we’re going to make sure people know that if they want to start watching a new soap, we’re there to help them by answering questions. Even if it’s not a B.A.N.D. day — which we’ll try and do at least once a week — we’re still there for them!”