Soap fans lament suspension of 'One Life to Live'

Anxious fans of the soap opera "One Life to Live" are wondering how many more lives their beloved daytime drama might have.

Prospect Park -- the entertainment company behind the revival of "One Life to Live" and another canceled ABC soap, "All My Children" -- has suspended production of the 44-year-old soap.

The Los Angeles Times first reported this week that "One Life to Live" had been placed on hiatus while Prospect Park pursues a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co.'s ABC television network.

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The show's star, Erika Slezak, has since confirmed the suspension.  In a message to fans on her website, Slezak said she hoped the soap would continue as soon as the lawsuit with ABC was resolved.

"When these issues are worked out between Prospect Park and ABC/Disney, we will resume, but unfortunately there is no timetable," Slezak wrote on ErikaSlezak.com.  "I sincerely thank all of you for watching and supporting us and keep your fingers crossed for a speedy resolution."

Slezak has played matriarch Victoria Lord on "One Life to Live" since the early 1970s.

News of the suspension alarmed legions of soap fans, some of whom fear the show's days might be numbered.

"I was thrilled 'OLTL' came back to life on the Internet, even though I prefer watching it on TV more," one fan wrote this week on the Los Angeles Times website.  "I, among countless others, want to see 'OLTL' remain in our lives, so I do hope it will remain in production."

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Prospect Park has struggled for more than two years to bring "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" back to life ever since ABC announced in 2011 that it canceling the two long-running dramas. The network abandoned the programs because their audiences were graying, and the bulky productions, with large casts and crews, were becoming less profitable.

In the summer of 2011, Prospect Park principals Jeff Kwatinetz and Rich Frank, former head of Disney's television unit, obtained licensing rights for the two soaps. They put into motion plans to bring the soaps back to life as Internet productions, leased studio space in Connecticut and hired writers, actors and crew.

The online versions of two shows debuted on Hulu on April 29. 

Prospect Park has produced 40 episodes of "One Life to Live" and 43 episodes of "All My Children," which proved to be a more popular draw on the Internet.  People close to the production said Prospect Park plans to focus on "All My Children" while it untangles the legal issues with ABC.

Prospect Park sued ABC in April for breach of contract, contending that the television network had tried to sabotage Prospect Park's efforts by killing off some of the characters of "One Life to Live," who were on loan to ABC.

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Prospect Park had agreed to lend the characters to ABC so the actors portraying them could keep working on ABC's surviving soap, "General Hospital," while Prospect Park got its Internet versions of the other soaps up and running. The lawsuit alleges that Prospect Park was supposed to have story approval for plots lines involving those characters, but that apparently didn't happen.

Two of the characters were killed off while guest-starring on "General Hospital."

ABC denies the allegations in Prospect Park's lawsuit. The case is pending in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Fans, for their part, just want to see a continuation of "One Life to Live," which is set in the fictional town of Llanview, Pa.

"They need to hire some good writers, add to the cast, revive the Llanview landmarks, and add some viewers as consultants," a second fan wrote on the L.A. Times website. "Don't try to reinvent the wheel, just do a great story.  It really is that simple!"

ALSO:

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Prospect Park sues ABC, alleging network is a serial soap killer

Prospect Park to revive "All My Children" and "One Life to Live"

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT