The producers of the soap operas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" are shutting down production earlier than expected, citing a labor dispute.
The Online Network said in a statement Wednesday night that it was beginning a long-planned hiatus for both shows Thursday instead of June 17 because of a dispute with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents crew members.
"The hiatus is scheduled to end on August 12 pending resolution of this labor issue,'' TOLN said. "Right now we have 40 episodes of each show ready to post through September, and if we can resolve this issue by August, we can get back into the studio on time so audiences will enjoy uninterrupted postings of their favorite shows."
The sides have sparred over pay rates for crew members. "We believe we have met all contract requirements with IATSE, and as an Internet start-up, and per our contract with the IA, we cannot afford, and our business model cannot sustain, traditional broadcast rates," the company added. "We are committed to these shows, and to the nearly 300 jobs they produce, thus we are exploring every legal and logistical option to maintain our production schedule."
IATSE officials were not immediately available for comment.
Prospect Park, the Century City production company, revived the two former ABC soap operas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" as Internet series in late April. But soon the company scaled back production of the two soaps to two episodes a week for each series, saying they were releasing too many episodes at once, forcing their fans to binge view and pick one series over the other.
It had been a long and costly road to even produce the shows. The firm has also tangled with ABC after allowing the Walt Disney owned broadcast network to use some of the characters on ABC's remaining soap, "General Hospital." Prospect Park in April sued the Disney-owned network, alleging it was trying to thwart the success of the Internet versions.
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Prospect Park also had an on-again, off-again relationship with the talent guilds. Before hiring any of the well-known actors, the production company had to agree to abide by guild contracts, which increased the cost of production.
Prospect Park is headed by Rich Frank, a former chairman of Walt Disney Studios, and former talent manager Jeff Kwatinetz. The company secured rights to make Web versions of the long-running ABC shows in a bet that the passion of the audience for such legacy programs continues to have financial value.
ABC canceled the shows in late 2011 and early 2012. Prospect Park spent more than 18 months trying to get its effort off the ground. The soaps are produced in Connecticut to take advantage of that state's tax credits.