Creator Agnes Nixon says demise of her soaps 'was really a shock'

Agnes Nixon lives in Rosemont and the fictional towns in her venerable "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" - canceled by ABC - are loosely based on Main Line communities.
Agnes Nixon lives in Rosemont and the fictional towns in her venerable "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" - canceled by ABC - are loosely based on Main Line communities.
Posted: April 20, 2011

Last week, ABC announced the cancellation of the soap operas One Life to Live and All My Children, both created by Agnes Nixon more than 40 years ago. They will be replaced by panel shows similar to The View. One is about food, called The Chew, hosted by chef Mario Batali; the other, about weight loss, is called The Revolution, hosted by debonair Tim Gunn.

Children, which has starred Susan Lucci as Erica Kane since the beginning and is the show Nixon is still more closely attached to, is set in the fictional town of Pine Valley and due to go off the air in September. One Life, set in Llanview, will end in January. Both towns are very loosely based on Main Line communities.

Nixon spoke to Inquirer television critic Jonathan Storm from her home in Rosemont.

Question: Did you see the end coming?

Answer: It was not a total surprise. There were many rumors around, but the network had been denying the rumors, so it was really a shock.

Q: What are your plans for ending the shows?

A: One doesn't think of an ending. One thinks of an ending of many, many stories, and out of the resolution of one story, a second one can begin, often with new people. I never thought of an ending. The writers and I will have to root around a bit. There are five or six important plots.

Q: Any feelings on being replaced by a show named The Chew?

A (amid gales of laughter): It makes me laugh because they could have had a more euphemistic title. They could have called it Pasta. Someone said it's heavily endowed with that Italian chef. Maybe they could call it All My Chews.

Q: What do you think was the primary reason your shows were canceled?

A: Bottom line: It's money. It's the financial aspect of it. There are so many channels, so much competition. I think the whole country has ADD. Revenue has lessened because the ratings have gone down on all shows. Our network and the other two [major network] shows opposite us at 1 p.m., all three have lost 20 percent of audience. Advertisers don't pay as much, but the costs of production have gone up.

Q: Will Pine Valley and Llanview live on?

A: I would love to think so, but you know the Main Line is seen by outsiders and newcomers quite differently from those who live here, and, besides, our stories are about people who are very different from each other. The soul of someone glows, makes the interesting story. It has nothing to do with geography.

Q: What about Erica Kane?

A: I haven't decided. We hope and we will try to have Erica Kane exit, if that's the word to use, happily. One of her problems is her abandonment complex. That's been the thread for 40 years, that she will never have enough "I love you. I love you, I love you." Let's just see if in the next few months Erica comes to realize that she's had it all along. Let's see if Erica gets to the point where she's content with herself.

Q: Do you think, as ABC does, that people are tired of daytime drama?

A: I think that's a specious question. I will ask rather than answer. Are people tired of stories? I don't think so. The letters and calls that everybody has gotten say they weren't tired of our stories.


Contact television critic Jonathan Storm at 215-854-5618 or jstorm@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/jonathanstorm.

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