SOAPnet's latest original programming franchise, Relative Madness, includes someone who, though maybe not a household name in the traditional way, is certainly someone that thousands upon thousands of daytime fans turn to every day for their soap opera fix.
Relative Madness is a series of six original specials, each chronicling the sometimes crazy family life of celebrities, pop-icons, and fictional characters. Each show will count down the 25 best over-the-top TV and celebrity family moments with commentary from a variety of talent and comedians-including Soap Central's very own Dan J Kroll.
"I was surprised and even a little flattered when SOAPnet contacted me about the series," Kroll admits. "I think I'm the only regular, non-celebrity person in the entire series. It's always nice to know that you're sort of on the map."
Kroll has been on the map, so to speak, since he created an All My Children section on his personal home page in late 1994. At the time, the Internet looked nothing like what it does today. Streaming video? Downloadable music? Not a chance.
"There were very few web sites outside of academia" Kroll reflects. "There were certainly no web sites set up as a place for soap fans to get together and read about what was happening on their stories."
Some may call it being in the right place at the right time. Granted, timing certainly worked in Kroll's favor, but creating Soap Central was more than just being lucky. There was a lot of hard work involved.
Kroll remembers having vision of bringing together all of the best soap web sites under one umbrella. He reached out to owners of other sites, asking them if they wanted to get together and create a one-stop soap site. "No one wanted to join me," he recalls. "I don't know if it was an issue of egos and not wanting to cede creative control to be part of a 'network' or if it was something else. I wasn't going to let others prevent me from getting things done-even though I knew it was going to be a lot harder doing it on my own."
As the site grew, the pastime soon commanded more of the then-college student's time. The scope of the web site was no longer that of a personal web page. There were now costs associated with keeping the site online.
"There were several times when I came close to having to shut down the site. I was a college student and didn't have the money to pay to keep a web site. I was going to school to be a doctor-I didn't know anything about advertising or marketing!" laughs Kroll.
Suffice it to say, Kroll learned the ins and outs of marketing. Now in its 14th year, soapcentral.com is the most-visited soap opera web site on the Internet. Last month, Soap Central debuted a new video section in which Kroll offered commentary and analysis of this year's Daytime Emmy nominations. The new section stemmed from Kroll's stint in front of the camera for the SOAPnet series.
Each episode on the Relative Madness series debuts Thursday at 11:00pm. If you miss the first showing (and you'd better have a good reason for missing it!), you can catch repeats throughout the week.
Below is a schedule for Relative Madness. Check your local listings for the channel in your area. As always, scheduling is subject to change.
May 8th: Mama Drama
Celebrate Mother's Day by thanking your mother that she isn't quite as kooky as the women who made this countdown. Over-the-top mamas included in this special are pop star Britney Spears, reality show mother Sister Patterson, and All My Children's Erica Kane.
May 15th: It's A Sibling Thing
Having a brother or sister isn't as easy as being in The Brady Bunch-and even the Bradys had their share of family dysfunction. This edition will focus on young children from those thrust into the spotlight after tragedy like Princes William and Harry to siblings like the Olsen twins who chose to put themselves in the public eye. Toss in a few feuding soap siblings and you've definitely got a lot to talk about.
May 22nd: Brawl In the Family
Just because you're in love with someone it doesn't mean you have to love their family. Some of the famous feuds explored are Princess Diana and The Queen along with feuding lovers Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston. Though reality is often stranger than fiction, there are plenty of fictional dysfunctionals including the Sopranos, the Quartermaines and the Carringtons.
May 29th: Crazy…In Love
Love is patient. Love is kind. But people do the strangest things when they are in love. And some couples are just downright strange in their own right. This episode features real-life couples like Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson and fictional ones like Luke and Laura Spencer.
June 5th: Twisted Family Trees
Not every family is connected by blood ties. Sometimes we choose who we want in our lives. And that makes it even more interesting when the people we choose bring zaniness and madness with them. From All My Children's girls of Fusion to Passions' Tabitha, Timmy the Doll, and an orangutan… What is it that they say about birds of a feather?
June 12th: Father Knows Less
When it comes to crazy relatives, mothers don't lay claim to all of the madness. There are plenty of clueless and troublemaking fathers. From daddies that refuse to claim children as their own (Eddie Murphy) to fathers who people wonder how they had children (Michael Jackson). Daytime also has its share of wacky dads including One Life to Live's Todd Manning and The Bold and the Beautiful's Eric Forrester.