ABC killed two of its long-running soap operas — "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" — more than a year ago. Now, in true soap opera fashion, the network stands accused of trying to snuff out the very same shows — again.
On Thursday, production company Prospect Park Networks filed a $25-million breach of contract lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co-owned broadcast network. The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleged that ABC backstabbed the production firm by carrying out a devious plot to destroy Prospect's efforts to bring the beloved daytime dramas back to life as online productions.
Prospect Park in July 2011 licensed the rights to the two ABC soaps shortly after ABC announced its budget-cutting plans to cancel them. "All My Children" went off the air in September 2011, and "One Life to Live" ended its television run in January 2012.
While struggling to get its own version of the productions off the ground, Prospect Park was approached by ABC last year, the suit said. Disney's TV network offered to introduce seven of the "One Life to Live" characters on ABC's remaining soap, "General Hospital," on a limited basis. Prospect said it agreed to loan the characters to ABC so the actors would be employed, but Prospect expected that the characters would return to work on the Internet version of "One Life to Live."
The suit said that ABC agreed to consult with Prospect on story lines involving the characters — but that apparently didn't happen.
"In an ultimate act of bad faith, ABC inexplicably killed off two 'One Life to Live' characters on loan to 'General Hospital' by having their car forced off a cliff," the suit said. ABC also transfered one "One Life to Live" character and the fictional newspaper that he runs from the fictional Pennsylvania town which provided the setting for "One Life to Live." Now the Sun publishes in Port Charles, the fake New York town from "General Hospital."
Ratings for "General Hospital" have increased during the past year.
"In other instances, ABC damaged 'One Life to Live' characters by, among other things, creating absurd story lines, having characters do things they would never do, and destroying critical character relationships popular with soap fans," the suit contends.
An ABC spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
Prospect Park is accusing ABC of being a serial serial killer and undercutting Prospect Park's efforts so that ABC could save face with soap opera fans. The suit alleged that ABC would be embarrassed if Prospect Park were to find success with their online productions after ABC canceled the shows.
Prospect Park is planning a April 29 launch for its online versions of both soaps.
Prospect Park was on the hook to pay ABC enormous license fees, as much as $4 million for its first season of "One Life to Live" as an online series. Prospect Park is owned by Jeff Kwatinetz, a former talent manager, and Rich Frank, the former president of Walt Disney Co. Studios.
"Prospect Park has been and continues to be committed to creating and delivering exceptional episodes of All My Children and One Life to Live," Kwatinetz and Frank said in a statement. "Over and over again our effort to bring these shows to audiences has faced challenges, and yet we along with the actors, the writers, producers and the directors as well as our fans have confronted and then overcome these challenges, and we have every confidence that we will prevail again."
Prospect is demanding a jury trial.