With the news that ABC canceled “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” soap opera fans are wondering if other soaps are in danger of the same fate. Alison Sweeney, who has played Sami on “Days of our Lives” since 1993, says she understands how great the loss of those shows is for fans.
“It hits close to home. It’s really sad,” Sweeney tells Zap2it while promoting the Hill’s Science Diet “Million Pound Pledge” for pets. “I know, like many soap opera actors do, when you meet fans, that soaps have been a part of their family for generations. They’ve watched it with their mom or their grandma and it’s close to their heart… It’s hard to say goodbye.”
On the other hand, Sweeney says she understands the business side of daytime soaps and the challenge the industry faces in order to keep the shows viable.
“They have to find a way to make money,” she says. “And at ‘Days of our Lives,’ we’re working really hard to fight to be a financially good decision for those people who make those decisions and hopefully we tell good enough stories that the fans want to keep watching.”
The actress, who also hosts “The Biggest Loser,” knows that reality and nonfiction programs are much cheaper to produce than scripted series, so the industry has had to make strategic changes to make sure it still turns a profit for the networks.
“At ‘Days,’ it’s clearly a different place to work than it was 18 years ago when I first started,” she says. “We don’t have a lot of rehearsal time and we have to keep going. And the writers have to work harder and be able to write very simple scenes that are easier to shoot, inexpensive, without any fancy special effects, but still tell really compelling stories. Ultimately, most of the responsibility falls on the writers to tell really good stories and the actors to have to turn it around and bring it to life with a lot of constraints.”
What are your thoughts on the challenges soap operas are facing?