Call it an April Fool's joke one week early. Or maybe it was just a case of hype going a little too far.
As reported earlier in the week by soapcentral.com, the Internet was abuzz with word that ABC Daytime was readying a major announcement by week's end. Though the source of the initial rumor remains unknown, the announcement was expected to be a jaw-dropper and ABC was even said to have asked the soap magazines to save room on their front covers for the story. It should be noted that soapcentral.com did not receive such a request from ABC and despite extensive digging, soapcentral.com was unable to confirm that any announcement would, in fact, be made. It is also worth nothing that ABC has routinely shunned the Internet, so it is entirely possible that ABC would not have sent the press release in the first place.
Now as the work week draws to a close, there does appear to be some -- read: some -- credence to the initial rumors.
The latest newsstand edition of Soap Opera Digest (April 4, 2006) is different from that which was sent out to subscribers. The front cover of the newsstand version features an additional headline: "One Life to Live: Finally! Nora wakes up!" Could this be the "stop the presses" story that the initial rumors touted?
Also, on Friday, it was revealed that former Everybody Loves Raymond star Patricia Heaton had reached a deal with Buena Vista Television to co-host a one-hour talk show that should appear on ABC in the fall. The yet-untitled show would fill the gap between Live! with Regis and Kelly and The View.
It remains unclear if an overzealous fan somehow got his or her hands on some of the information and jumped to the wrong conclusion or if a troublemaking fan made up the idea of a "major announcement" and just happened to luck out with some "happy coincidences." If the rumor was intentionally created to mislead, it would not be the first time that his occurred. In early 2004, one particularly crafty Internet user created an entire falsified press release stating that Kimberly McCullough would be returning to General Hospital. The bogus release went as far as to attribute made-up quotes to ABC executives.
Of course, as you can expect, the very mention of a purported "major announcement" had fans buzzing about what the announcement could possible be. Ideas batted around ran from the absurd to the downright depressing.
Here are some of the ideas that fans have come up with:
Genie Francis (Laura Spencer) is returning to General Hospital. Francis parted ways with the ABC soap in September 2002 amid reported differences with the show's leadership. The actress has never ruled out a return, but her name was recently bandied about as a possible addition the cast of The Young and the Restless.
Finola Hughes (Anna Devane) is returning to General Hospital. As reported earlier this month by soapcentral.com, there is buzz that Hughes' character will be the latest "legacy character" to return to Port Charles. But since this news has already been reported, would it really warrant a "major" announcement from ABC?
The return of Francis and Hughes to General Hospital. Why waste the pomp and circumstance on the return of a single character?
Susan Lucci (Erica Kane) is retiring from All My Children. Lucci, one of All My Children's original cast members, has given no indication that she wants off the ABC soap, but fans wonder if the actress just might want to release herself from the stress of the daily grind that is a soap opera.
The return of GH's Nurses' Ball. The annual Nurses' Ball, which helped draw awareness to HIV and AIDS, hasn't been a part of General Hospital in some years. Fans hoped that the return of HIV-positive Robin Scorpio might prompt the show's writers to bring back the tradition.
Brian Frons has been fired as President of ABC Daytime. Call us crazy, but we don't think Frons would hype a press release announcing his own dismissal.
ABC has acquired the rights to broadcast Days of our Lives. As fans of the NBC soap know, its future is very much in doubt as its ratings sag and Sony Television has battled back and forth with NBC over the costs associated with producing the show. DAYS reruns already air on SOAPnet and it might be a good acquisition for ABC and it's sister-soap cable channel. But where would the show fit into ABC Daytime's lineup?
The cancellation of One Life to Live. Some fans are wondering of the lackluster ABC soap will come to the end of its run to make room for a new soap - or simply be phased out in favor of some other sort of programming. Other fans have All My Children and One Life to Live being merged into one program. "All My Life," perhaps?
The cancellation of the entire ABC Daytime lineup. By now, everyone knows that the soap opera industry is struggling. In this doomsday scenario, ABC decides to cut its losses and exit the soap business all together. This is the least likely of the scenario, as ABC is able to recoup some of its production losses through re-broadcasting the daily episodes on SOAPnet. Besides, it seems unlikely that ABC would want to make so much noise of such bad news.
Of course left in the lurch are soap fans, who are wondering if they have been duped by a rogue Internet user with far too much time on their hands or if, perhaps, an announcement from ABC is still forthcoming and -- just maybe -- the date of the announcement was wrong.
As they say on the soaps, soap fans, tune in tomorrow.