The battle for Mr. Eloquence

One of the most frustrating facets of writing about daytime and about soaps is that any truth about behind-the-scenes drama and intrigue is almost completely obscured by spin.

A ray of frickin' sunshine, that Les

Trying to analyze the thoughts and intentions of  heads of daytime and executive producers (usually best done while shaking one’s fist at the skies saying “WHAT were they THINKING????!!!?????) is a mystery that even Miss Marple would be too puzzled to solve.

That’s why I’ve sort of taken a bit of pleasure (schadenfreude, as my handsome German boyfriend would say) in watching the battle for the title of Mr. Eloquence between Les Moonves (head of all of CBS) and Brian Frons (daytime head of ABC). In a few public statements, the masks have fallen from the dragons, so to speak.

They’ve either astonished us with their ignorance or amazed us with their rudeness. I swear, they are both reading from the same management book: How to Enrage Fans and Defy Logic and Sense. It’s the book Dale Carnegie never quite got around to publishing!

Frons had an early lead to wear the sash and tiara of Mr. Elegance when he said lovely things about Guiding Light after its cancellation (see under Grave, Dancing and/or Spitting on).

Les Moonves is a competitive soul, though, and not to be bested. So Les busted out his now famous statements about “special” soaps, right after he kicked As The World Turns, a show that was number 1 for 22 years and made insane profits for the network for years, to the curb. That Les, he keeps it classy.

Just when we thought Les had it nailed down, though……Frons has another card to play.

USAToday has an article about all of daytime (talk, game shows and soaps). It’s overall a nicely done article that seems to avoid the “daytime is dying” mantra repeated elsewhere in the mainstream press. But at the end, we have THIS gem from Frons:

“Some (soaps) have been on many years, so people feel the need to make sage-like statements about the future of the genre,” Frons says. “Nobody makes those statements when a sitcom or long-running

Don't mess with the Frons

drama dies. It’s the end of that program, and that’s the way we should look at it as well.”

Wow, that’s some SERIOUS spin. I mean, it’s just – spinspirational! And it would completely make sense – except that when a long-running drama or sitcom dies, another program like it generally takes its place.

So Brian, can we expect that ABC will replace any soap it cancels with a new soap?


NBC has, to its credit, tried over the last few years to launch some new soaps. None of them worked, and it’s now down to an hour of programming.

When ATWT leaves the air, CBS will have gone from 3 1/2 hours of programming to 1 1/2 hours in, seemingly, a blink of its CBS eye.

Do what you need to do to bring in the bucks, Brian. But don’t try to sell us shit and brand it as sunshine. As these shows disappear, something IS being lost.

There may be other venues, other outlets for serials, other platforms, other fandoms. But don’t pretend Rome isn’t burning. It’s just tacky and insulting to your fans. And besides, if you keep fanning the fire, it might singe your back hair.

2 thoughts on “The battle for Mr. Eloquence

  1. My GOD…and they wonder why the fans avoid their shows! I know I perosnally love watching programming by someone who apparently despises me and thinks I have the IQ of burnt toast.

    What exactly did you replace Port Charles with again Frons? Am I forgetting the soap you replaced it with? Frons your cable network that is called SOAPNET isn’t even running daytime soaps most of the time…just reruns of nighttime soaps and ABC Family movies.

    There are times…rare but they do exist that I try to convince myself that these men just came up in the business during a time when their comments weren’t immediately reported and reacted to. There was some time and hopefully someone noticed the snooty attitude and retooled the spin. I sometimes try to say “It’s just a terribly unlucky concidence these men are just god awful with the press.” Then they speak….and my good intentions go right out the window.

  2. Soaps are not cost effective to these networks, so they are getting rid of the ones they don’t need/want. It appears as if they are trying to move what’s left of the industry to Los Angeles, which is bad for the entertainment community in New York.

    I am continuously outraged by the careless way these network suits like Frons and Moonves just completely pi** on their daytime fans.

    Not to be territorial, but I am not one of those fans who sends packages to the home offices in support of my favorite supercouple. I have always considered myself a ‘thinking man’s soap fan’ and have thrilled to the opinions of people like Marlena (Connie) Delacroix, Michael Logan, and Mimi Torchin … and Patrick Erwin. (Great job on the blog, by the way.)

    I have spent 25 years watching ATWT … it’s “my” show … and as you said, there is nothing to replace it. If I want game shows I can watch GSN. SOAPNet only plays the ABC shows. There is, literally, no place to find Procter & Gamble material. And the disgusting part is that P&G disrespects the very genre they created and what kept them rolling in the dough for so long!!

    It’s not “what have you done” but “what have you done for me lately”. I mean, what shows on the air have accomplished what ATWT and GL have in (a) continued dramatic quality, (b) longtime fan base, (c) high ratings for a sustained period, (d) Emmy-winning actors and writers, etc. etc. etc.??????

    If you look up soap opera in the encyclopedia, chances are you’ll read about ATWT.

    I don’t know how to be through with CBS; I like some of their other shows and news programming … but after seeing the callous way ATWT has been treated (and, IMHO, it’s even worse than GL because of what Moonves said publicly), I’m not so sure I want to support them. Not that they care or that it even matters.

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