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Dr. Death: Will Couric Pull the Plug on 'General Hospital'?

0606 couric
Katie Couric wants to be the new Oprah Winfrey. But might she be the new Luke and Laura? On Monday, ABC announced that it had signed Couric to a ginormous deal that will make her host of her own hour-long daytime talk show, a regular contributor to ABC News, and the odds-on favorite for Disney employee of the month. (The winner gets a free Mickey Mouse ice cream bar—the kind with the chocolate ears.) But snuggled deep in the press release announcing the hire is a paragraph that should send shivers through anyone who works in or watches soap operas:

“The eight ABC Owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh/Durham and Fresno, which represent nearly 23% of the nation’s TV households, have already cleared the new show in the 3:00 p.m. time slot. As part of the announcement, the network is set to return the last hour of its Daytime network block to affiliates no earlier than September 2012, but continues to support ‘General Hospital,’ and the plans to launch ‘The Chew’ in September of this year and ‘The Revolution’ in January 2012.”

The St. Petersburg Times’ Eric Deggans was the first to read between those lines, noting that if “The Chew” and “The Revolution” are still slated to replace the recently canceled “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” that doesn’t leave much room for the long-running “General Hospital” once Couric’s show launches in fall, 2012. “Will Couric start her talk show tenure at ABC as the woman who killed ‘GH’?” Deggans wrote. An ABC spokesperson provided him an answer shortly after his blog post went live, saying that the network would pick its two strongest shows to air alongside Couric in the 1-4 p.m. block come fall of next year. As Deggans noted, “Fans with Nielsen connections better start watching a lot of ‘General Hospital’ if they want their program to survive.”

Of course, ratings alone may not be enough to save “GH.” As Ron Morgan, soon-to-be-former president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists’ Los Angeles local, told Back Stage in April, while soap ratings are down from their heights in the go-go ’90s, they’re still quite strong when compared to the talk, reality, and game shows that now dominate broadcast daytime. “The biggest problem in scripted dramatic prime time is that it costs a lot more to do this type of work than to do a cheaper talk show, from a production standpoint."

It’s too early to predict how the Couric coronation will play out for “GH,” but the outlook isn’t good right now. Speculation that her show could squeeze out the soap opera has been floating around for at least a month now. With soap fans going so far as to picket ABC’s upfronts after the network gave two other daytime dramas the axe, it’s not unreasonable to think that the “GH” can may just be getting kicked down the road in the interest of public relations.

Pictured: Katie Couric (Photo: Getty Images)

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Comments

I will never watch the new shows ABC is offering up as they send the soaps to all be axed. Katie might as well stay home. And why do we need the 4:00 news, the 5:00 news and the 6:00 news? why not just call it 3 hours of NEWS......
this is a big mistake and it will come back to bite Disney really hard.
No one will replace Oprah.. I say lets all watch Ellen!!!

i HAVE WATCHED THE THREE SOAPS AND BECAME ADDICTED YEARS AGO WHEN I HAD A BACK PROBLEM AND HAD TO LIE DOWN CONSTANTLY. tHE STORIES WERE SOMETIMES ABSURD BUT ALWAYS FUN TO WATCH. aND ONE BECAME FRIENDS WITH THE ACTORS.
i MYSELF HOPED ONE DAY TO HAVE A SMALL PART IN ONE LIFE TO LIVE OR ALL MY CHILDREN-MET THE CASTING DIRECTORS.
NOW, SO MANY MORE OPPORTUNIIES FOR YOUNG AND OLDER ACTORS AND ACTRESSES WILL GO DOWN THE DRAIN WITH THE 'WATER'
LIKE A PREVIOUS COMMENT, I SHALL NOT BE WATCHING ANY MORE NEWS OR REALITY SHOWS (THOSE I NEVER WATCH ANYWAY)
ABC WILL LOSE OUT AND IT WILL BE ENTIRELY THEIR OWN FAULT.

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