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« Our Column In The 8/25 Issue of Soap Opera Digest | Main | Soap Blog Coalition »

August 19, 2009

The Fool On The Hill

Some things are so easily parodied that one does a double take when they read, or see, something that is straight from the source and not a hilarious send-up of the source's most mockable qualities.

Like, I just read Twilight1 and when I got to the parts where vampires sparkle in the sun and are also gifted at baseball, I called my Twilight reading friend immediately and screeched, "I thought you were making that up!" ("Why would I make that up? HOW would I make that up?" "I DON'T KNOW, BUT IT WAS THE EASIEST EXPLANATION!") Like, I know that the book has some ridiculous moments, but I honestly figured that the sparkly baseball stuff was some elaborate, fandom wide inside joke, but the joke, it turns out, was on me.

The same thing happened with the comments Brian Frons made to The Wall Street Journal (big thanks to Kimber and Lucille for passing the interview along!). When I first saw a quote, I giggled gleefully at the uncanny lampooning of Frons and his tendency to be arrogant and dimwitted at the same time. Until I realized that it wasn't lampooning him at all, because the arrogant and dimwitted words were all his. And then the giggles turned to tears as I realized, yet again, that he is a high-powered network executive and I am, in the words of a disgruntled reader, "some chick with a blog".

WSJ: Is there much industry nostalgia for the legacy of “Guiding Light”?

Frons: It was actually my first creative executive job, from 1979 to 1983. That was a great time for soaps. This was when the Rider case was in the news, one of the first times a woman sued her husband for rape, and we introduced a story to touch upon that. Television is a today business. From an ad sales perspective, “Guiding Light” hasn’t won the 18-49 women since 1991.

Really? It was a "great time for soaps" because real life circumstances at that time let them do a story about rape? That is his touchstone golden soap moment? The man is warped.

What happened in 1991?

Frons: That’s just as far back as our records go. But if I told you we had a primetime show that hadn’t won its slot in 18 years, you’d ask why it’s still on the air.

Yes, I probably would ask that question, but I'm the naturally inquisitive type who is always asking questions. Right now, the biggest question on my mind is how, after showing no aptitude at your job and causing your shows to hemorraghe viewers, do you still have a job?

So it’s not a big deal that “Guiding Light” is ending?

Frons: We’ve gotten used to soaps lasting so many years, the death of one takes on all this drama. But “Guiding Light” has been a poor performer for many many years.

Hear that, people who have watched Guiding Light for decades, and are sad that a show you may have grown up with is ending? You are being a bunch of drama llamas, and Brian Frons has had enough, especially because your show was a poor performer for many many years. As opposed to the shows Frons currently oversees, which have been poor performers for merely many years.

What about personally for you? It’s kind of like your old high school being demolished, no?

Frons: No. It’s taking a patient off life support, not a sudden tragic death in the family or anything.

The Wall Street Journal interviewer gave him an out here, in an attempt to steer him in the direction of not being a callous dick, and he completely ignored it. Like, why take the opportunity to be tactful when you can instead make a snide remark?

Frons: I was sadder when I heard about production changes, lots of technical behind-the-scenes stuff that starts to affect talent and quality.

REMINDER: This is NOT a parody. This is a REAL quote from an obviously unhinged man who is allowed to walk the streets without supervision AND gets compensated handsomely for being terrible at what he does for a living.

There are so many snarky jokes to make about Brian "I ineptly meddle with things I have absolutely no reason to be a part of, just because I can and, if we're being honest, I get my jollies from watching things fall apart" Frons expressing sadness that behind-the-scenes changes impacted the talent and quality of a show. I thought of at least ten immediately and simultaneously, and it short-circuited by brain, leaving me only with the weak, "That's like Mrs. Voorhees judging someone else's mothering skills". 

Primetime soaps are huge, telenovelas are huge, so what’s going on with daytime soaps that they’re hurting badly enough that they start dying off?

There’s a mentality in network culture that fears change in programming. When we expanded everything into hourlong time slots — except “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which is half-hour — we had this great system that flowed really well from one to another. It wasn’t broken up by game shows or talk shows. And, really, it worked so well for so long that people just didn’t want to change it. I mean, why would you?

So what do you do now?

Change is good. You have to remember that “General Hospital” didn’t do well for 10 years until they started adding new characters. And those, of course, were Luke and Laura.

Change IS good, which is why I think we'd all gladly welcome a change in the writing and production staffs of All My Children and General Hospital. Am I right, folks? High five!

Further, nobody is denying the greatness of Luke and Laura, but when you have to go back to the late 70s in order to find a change that one of your shows implemented for the better, there is a serious problem. I know that the interview wouldn't have ended on a high note if he spoke the truth and said, "There was that time that we...oh, right, viewers ran away screaming when we did that" or "Well, just recently we brought on Charles Pratt and...um, nevermind", or "How about the time I suggested...nope, we almost got a class action lawsuit because of that one on the grounds of severe emotional distress", but come on!

1I know that you are all judging me (either because it has taken me this long to read it, or that I have read it at all) but I am taking a YA Lit class in the fall and it is one of the required SciFi/Fantasy books, along with The Hunger Games, which is awesome.

Comments

I personally was touched he chose Luke and Laura to mention..you know since most of the changes that have been credited to him....ie bringing back Guza....orginially pairing the gruesome twosome of Guza/Pratt....basically started the downhill slide to what we have now...Luke hating on his children, proudly boasting about being a deadbeat (while being aghast that his son calls him on being a deadbeat) and the less said about "Ethan" the better.

It never fails to amaze me how a man who's job it is to deal with the media....sucks so spectacularly at it.

Yeah, I read that interview with Frons, and just shook my head. How does so much douchebaggery exist in one human being?

As far as Twilight goes, I tried to act like I was too sophisticated for the books for a long time. I finally read the first one about a month ago, and then read the other three right after it. No judgement here. They are ridiculous, but they are also book heroin.

I was wondering when one of you Serial Girls would get around to writing about Frons' interview inthe WSJ. There have been over 200 comments over at the WSJ regarding Frons' interview and the majority of them were not kind. Unfortunately for everyone, they were right on the mark. Will ABC ever be rid of this man?

Over at TWOP posters have pointed out that Luke and Laura didn't save GH. The new characters that laid the ground work for L&L were Rick and Lesley, Scotty and Laura. TG was brought in later as a 6 week character that took off. In fact, the plan was for Luke to die instead of Roy DiLucca , who ABC wanted for prime time. That doesn't take away anything from Luke and Laura who have earned their legendary status, but from what I understand, it says that what actually saved the show was a visionary EP who didn't have network interference and an equally legendary HW who could plot out stories and tell them with intelligence, heart, characterization, and pacing.

Okay, so can someone reassure me that he still thinks OLTL doesn't exist? We need to keep it that way.

To add to spazzo47's comment...the show also had back then people who knew what the heck type of show they were producing and what audience they were aiming for....ie NOT 14 year old boys and disenfranchised Sopranos fans!

"The new characters that laid the ground work for L&L were Rick and Lesley, Scotty and Laura."

And the Quartermaines. We know how much Frons and Guza love them!

When I gain insight into the way Frons' mind works, or doesn't as the case may be, I am left wondering one thing:

How does one manage to blow smoke when one's head is firmly ensconced in one's own derriere?

Does this hateful misogynistic moron in charge really believe that television wasn't a business before his reign of terror? That only he has fiscal responsibilities?!?!?! Was television a solely creative artistic endeavor back then? HARDLY. What a delusional liar. They just understood that putting out a great program kept viewers viewing regularly and the better their programming got, the more new viewers they hooked. And that meant charging more to sell ad time. HE SERIOUSLY DOESN'T GET THIS DOES HE?

Daytime Dramas were carried over from radio and named "Soap Operas" for the sole purpose of hooking in the audience at home during the daytime and selling specifically to them.... and back then it was almost exclusively woman at home during the day and what did they buy all of.... SOAP!!!!! Dish soap, hand soap, bath soap, soap detergents etc.......DUH! Hey Frons, your excuses suck SOAP.

His excuses for his horrible programming are pathetic. He bloes money on useless crap like CGI and HD and slams GL for trying a new production model. What a dick! His ideas sucked more than GL's. Plus hiliting his love of rape is bad PR. But it seems he has tenure and nobody will ever fire his ass. So he can be as terrible as he likes.

I just hope when GH and AMC and OLTL get the final boot that the daytime community comes out and rails him for all his failures.

Your Twilight rant made me flash back to a .gif I found: "Are you sparkling? There's no sparkling! THERE'S NO SPARKLING IN BASEBALL!"

And I am thoroughly convinced that, much like a wrestling villain, Frons says asinine stuff like that just to get a rise out of soap opera fans. It's the only explanation I can think of.

First comment ever (after years of enjoying your fabulous, tragic, and hilarious blogs) because I must echo Kat's fabulous summary of all things Twilight: "No judgment here. They are ridiculous, but they are also book heroin" (why didn't I think of that as I inhaled one book after the other, all the while saying "I can't believe I'm reading this...").

And while I'm singing Kat's praises, let me re-post one of my fav comments every about the moron also known as Frons: "How does so much douchebaggery exist in one human being?" How indeed...

Keep up the great work, I no longer watch GH (couldn't tolerate the post-partum depression "story" despite years of loving Robin Scorpio and KMc) and reading your blog makes me very happy I made that choice and grateful you continue to suffer through this dreck for our amusement.

I'm curious. If daytime dramas are so outdated and have seen their hayday and shold just be gone and no one out there wants to watch them anymore, then how did a whole cable station evolve just for the primary reason of being able to watch SOAPS?

"Okay, so can someone reassure me that he still thinks OLTL doesn't exist? We need to keep it that way."

Louise, it's far too late for that I'm afraid. Now OLTL has not just one slutty stripper playing out Frons' twisted fantasies day after day, but two slutty strippers playing out Frons' twisted fantasies day after day. *sigh*

Why is it that the one thing Frons is good at is ruining innocent soap operas?

Glad others have pointed out that GH became #1 due to Laura/Scotty/Bobbie and Alan/Monica/Rick/Lesley. And the irony of Frons touting Luke and Laura while he's done more to destroy them than the Cassadines ever did.

I guess Frons doesn't think that people mourn their relatives who die after being on life support?

How such stupidity and callousness can exist in the same human being boggles the mind.

"Frons: I was sadder when I heard about production changes, lots of technical behind-the-scenes stuff that starts to affect talent and quality."

I am genuinely shocked that a lightening bolt did not strike down his smarmy ass right then and there. This man possesses not one shred of self-awareness, does he?

Oh!! You are reading twilight!! EXCELLENT.

If you feel inclined, would you please provide a witty blog entry about your experience?!

I would love to read your thoughts....... you make me smile everyday!! : )

The Twilight Saga is humor blog heaven. You can do a chapter-by-chapter synopses, much like a week-by-week review of GH. I'm not sure which is worse and more laugh-out-loud unintentionally funny. (Sorry, I had to read these books for my daughter. They were so-so, but that Breaking Dawn - whoa WTH.) It did give me great comedy gold for my blog.

(Psst, Mallory, just ask if you want to know where the best parodies are. I get them all sent to me.)

Oh my, Kade, you are so right. I couldn't believe they brought another slutty stripper onto the canvas of OLTL. And this one has a misshapen head and weird eyes. Why do they all have problems with their foreheads?

Brian Frons is so clueless.

Oh, man, you guys are seriously tempting me to discuss Twilight... Bad influences, the lot of you! We'll see! But in the meantime, you can always email me to discuss.

You guys all make awesome points about Rick and Lesley and the Qs, BTW. Of course, that's no surprise, because you're all intelligent and soap fans, and Brian Frons is...well, he's Brian Frons. I'm surprised that we don't read more news reports about outraged people running up to him and kicking him in the shins.

The best Twilight parody I've found:
http://stoney321.livejournal.com/317176.html
(Warning: not for the fainthearted, Mormons, or anyone easily offended by bad language)

The only good thing about OLTL having so many scenes of slutty Stacy and her slutty friend is that I can usually get through an ep a lot quicker! For crying out loud, Stacy *just* had a miscarriage and now she's bouncing all over town finding someone to sleep with to re-impregnate her. (And not to mention last November when Jess/Tess/Mess gave birth to a stillborn, alone, and immediately after that her other personality ran all over town switching babies. Writers, alternate personalities does not make them different people!) OLTL seriously needs to consult with an OBGYN on how girl parts work. I swear, this show doesn't want me to keep watching it... *shakes head*

I have had the great misfortune of reading TWILIGHT and wonder if Stephanie Meyer and Charles Pratt were separated at birth...

I have had the great misfortune of reading TWILIGHT and wonder if Stephanie Meyer and Charles Pratt were separated at birth...

I have had the great misfortune of reading TWILIGHT and wonder if Stephanie Meyer and Charles Pratt were separated at birth...

the sparkle vamps - too much...wait til you get to the snuggle scenes - how do kids think that is sexy...

if you want really good YA lit...pick up Melissa Marr and Richelle Mead.

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