Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On the Rise of the Soap Superblog

An interesting thing happened yesterday. Eric Braeden did his 9,000th interview for The Man Who Came Back. (Just kidding...but he has generated terrific press. Publicist Charles Sherman should be pleased that even the New York Times covered the story. *I stuck a mini-review at the bottom of this post).

Anyway, the interview was with Not Soap Opera Digest or Soap Opera Weekly. With a little soap blog. (Of course, he does plenty of interviews with the mags too).

New, fan-driven media are on the rise. It seems the old soap (print) press may be left behind in the dust?

Eric Braeden is a sharp businessman. His decision to do an interview with a blogger suggests, to me, that the worm has turned. Moreover, it isn't just Braeden. If you look at the major fan-driven internet radio shows, like Buzzworthy Radio or In The Zone or Stardish Radio or Daytime Confidential, each of them have had major and minor soap spades!...during this last year. It is not just actors. These radio shows have also featured some top writers, giving die-hard fans FINALLY some insight into the creative process. (My only quibble about the radio stuff is that it is very hard for hearing impaired people like me, especially since mostly telephones are used for the interviews. I wish wish wish there could be transcripts. Indeed, if that were to happen, there would be widespread forwarding...and the impact of these interviews would be greater. Look at what happened with Victoria Rowell!).

And, if we want to talk about the ascendancy of soap blogs (and, I believe, the decline of soap magazines), we need only look at the Guiding Light Blogger-experiment. Someone is paying attention!

That this all ties in to the concept of new media, and finding new ways of having active, engaged fans promote the genre to their peers...something Sam Ford and Tom Casiello have talked to us even more engaging!

In addition, there is the emergence of two new classes of websites that, I think, attract many eyeballs. The first is the rise of the just-in-time news site! Week after week, Nelson Branco breaks major news and gossip, and he also consolidates other news in an unrivalled way. Daily, Daytime Confidential does the same thing, with a mix of opinion and spoilers that is unrivalled. And Roger Newcomb consolidates news, globally, several times a day.

The poor old print outlets, with their delayed release and poor mailing times by their fulfillment houses end up giving us old, cold news. When you take what they offer wrapped up in ads for psychics and collector plates and "fashion spreads" that have little interest for most readers...the days of the clunking magazine dinosaurs seem, sadly, nigh.

There was a time when the mags were the only game in town. What a blessing! But that era seems to have passed.

Also emerging is the "opinion columnist". Now, opinions are never in short supply on the internet (heck, look at me!), but there are a few columnists with genuine street cred! From soap writers Sara Bibel and Tom Casiello to soap-mag-pioneers like Marlena Delacroix, we get opinions based on experience. The insights are truly breathtaking sometimes!

Roger Newcomb and Tom Casiello, in particular, have further been doing something that the magazines fail to do: Embrace history! Roger has shared excerpts from many historical clippings (e.g., Time, Newsweek) on the soaps. Tom has also shared some truly amazing historical documents. SteveFrame's SoapsWEB is a treasure trove of archived historical material. No "professional" site...can touch that!

More and more, if I want to look for good criticism, insider insight into the creative and marketing process, breaking soaps "news", or historical documents and perspectives, I look to the Superblogs. Can the soap magazines survive?

On the other hand, can the bloggers survive? For the most part, I suspect, we are seeing "labors of love". If they don't pay the rent too, are they sustainable? Maybe...because they are written for love, not money.

* Mini-review:

(By the way, I saw the film. You know...for what it was billed as...a Western revenge's a fine movie. It is really terrific, as a long-time Braeden fan, to see him bring his particular intensity to this genre. The film is genuinely discomfiting in places -- which it is meant to be. The only sad part is that the film was originally meant to be centered around a large African American labor action in the Reconstruction era. There are still threads of that story in the film, but most of it ended up in the "deleted scenes" part of the DVD. Clearly, they decided to tighten the narrative, and to focus on the more dramatically interesting violation-and-revenge arc. I'd recommend the film to anyone who enjoys Braeden, and wants to see him in a different milieu. Since he had total creative control over the project, the film also offers insights into the kinds of stories that Braeden likes to tell.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have wondered if their blogs are the reason Tom Casiello and Sara Bibel haven't been hired since the writers strike ended.