Cover to cover

I know it seems as if I’ve been awfully lazy lately, what with sharing links with all of you to other blogs and the like. I do have more original content coming (including the rest of The List).

But I had to namecheck Roger Newcomb’s We Love Soaps blog here and say “Bravo” for his latest post. Roger points out how a miniscule number of performers have monopolized most of the recent Soap Opera Digest covers. (I was shocked when I picked up my own copy of the magazine yesterday and said, “Eric Braeden – again??!!??”)

This isn’t exactly a new problem. I got very fed up in the mid-1990s with Digest, which at one point I started to call Days of our Lives Digest. For a good five or six years, every issue (it was bi-weekly then) was either Bo/Billie or Bo/Hope or John/Marlena or Sami/Carrie/Austin. Before Soap Opera Weekly became Reader’s-Digest-crossed-with-The-Globe a few years back, I counted on THAT magazine to at least be fair and equitable in what they displayed on the cover.

Roger makes a great point about the Luke/Noah story being incredibly popular and attention-getting, yet Van Hansis (Luke) has never been on the cover. Yes, perhaps Luke and Noah kissing on the cover would be a lot to handle for readers. But Hansis himself shoulda been a cover boy LONG ago. In a market where youth is king, I’m wondering why the magazines would feature the 67-year-old Braeden so frequently instead of the 27-year-old Hansis. And hey, I have mad respect for Braeden. This isn’t about ageism or pushing vets offstage – this is about BALANCE.

The magazines generally say that they are driven to put what’s popular and what sells on the cover. But it seems like that’s a bit of a chicken-or-egg discussion to me. I mean, I’m in PR and I completely understand the shows have their own agenda and want to push particular stories. But the magazines should endeavor to feature couples and stories from ALL shows that are making an impact. 

GL’s dismal ratings have to be in part due to the fact that major stories from the show hasn’t been on the cover of either magazine for years (I don’t believe it was featured even for its 70th anniversary). How can you promote a compelling story when people have forgotten you existed and think you were canceled? Unfortunately, by promoting only a few shows (mainly GH, DAYS, and Y&R), the magazines may be aiding and abetting the death of daytime by making it a self-fulfulling prophecy.

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3 thoughts on “Cover to cover

  1. Patrick, I had the exact same reaction when I saw my new Eric Braeden cover yesterday. That inspired the blog. And I have enjoyed Eric for nearly three years. It’s not a problem with any of the actors who ARE featured, it’s just that so many are NOT featured who should be.

    And no matter how many times I’m told their market research tells them only certains shows or people sell, I won’t believe it until they actually try to do something different.

    I think market research is about as “on target” as the antiquated ratings system. Which is to say, not at all!

  2. I’ll be the contrarian. I actually tend to believe that the covers are driven by what has sold in recent weeks and months. The Braeden covers suggest to me that those covers out-sell others. Also, Braeden has this extra stipulation (he will only grant interviews when he is on the cover), and that is part of the problem too.

    In the late 80s or early 90s, “Ms” magazine realized it was losing its identity. Advertisers were driving covers and content that moved the magazine far from its vision/mission. So, Ms. made the choice to become a “maga-book”, and become entirely subscriber supported.

    It has been a hard row to hoe for “Ms” ever since…almost folding a few times…but the magazine still has its’ integrity.

    I don’t think advertiser supported print magazines can flourish anymore. The sale of TV Guide last week, for ONE DOLLAR, proves that.

    What we want is (a) broad coverage, (b) in depth interviews, more than the current puff pieces, with actors (across the canvas, from most shows), but also with writers/directors/producers/costumers/music people, etc; (c) analysis (e.g., Roger’s example of gay characters on soaps…but much much more); (d) history (remember when, and also where are they how).

    I feel this niche is slowing being covered by fan-driven, not-for-profit venues. Daytime Confidential, Buzzworthy Radio, In the Zone, Nuke Fancast and others prove that the interviews can be had. (Their impact is lessened because they are not transcribed, and because they vary in quality). Roger’s site…getting ever better as he adds in Youtube delights to his headline and opinion consolidation (and his own rare nuggets of opinion)…is the template, I believe, for the future.

    I’m not sure there is money to be made here, at least initially. But I think that if there were an online magazine, developed as a labor of love, it could replace the floundering magazines. I believe that the magazines are being derailed by a combination of shrinking readership AND toxic advertisers. It is time for us to let them go, and to embrace new media.

    Mark, like I said in my original post, I’m in PR. I totally GET that the magazines would want to put what sells on the cover. And that means incredibly popular, attention getting actors.

    And I get that Braeden has specific guidelines under which he’ll appear.

    But there are other powerful characters and couples. If it’s tied to ratings, B&B should be on more often. Covers of B&B have almost disappeared in the last few years.

    I could totally see TWO Braeden covers, considering the story he’s carrying now. FIVE seems a bit much. And it’s hard to tell what might sell if you don’t TRY other covers.

  3. I can see both sides of this issue. On one hand, since Y&R is number one, having Eric Braeden on the cover a lot makes sense. However when I saw it this week, I thought: “Geez, did Braden buy SOD or is he the new editor?”

    I miss the old days when the latest hot new couple would be on the cover. I remember when I was in Gemco and I saw Judi Evans and Grant Aleksander on the cover and I just shrieked (I was eleven at the time). When I saw Evans with Vincent Irizarry months later at a Woolworth’s, I bought it with my paper route money. The magazine fell apart, but I bought another one off eBay a year ago.

    Ah, those were the days. Woolworths and Gemco have been long gone for years now, so is the SOD I knew and loved.

    Jennifer, I agree – it’s going to be top rated shows and the most attention-getting storylines that will get the cover.

    It just seems SO odd that Braeden would have SO many covers in SO limited a time. Victor’s story is front-burner, but hardly the only front-burner story.

    And if we’re going by ratings, the almost complete blackout of B&B covers is puzzling.

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