From the flashing fashion pictures to the dormant button for a section that’s still a work in progress, restlessstyle.com looks exactly like the website for an up-and-coming magazine. But if the name didn’t tip you off, then the ”Ask Phyllis” section, with a picture of Michelle Stafford giving fashion advice as her character on CBS’ The Young and the Restless, probably would. The site, which launched last Friday (May 16), is an extension of the soap’s new fashion and lifestyle magazine, Restless Style. On the show, Phyllis, hubby Nicholas (Joshua Morrow), and Jack and Sharon Abbott (Peter Bergman and Sharon Case) run the site; in real-life, it is another example of how daytime soaps are trying to hold onto viewers — and maybe even lure in new ones.
”It was just a way to expand the fiction into reality,” said Y&R exec producer Josh Griffith, who sought the help of Sony Television Pictures, which helps produce the show, to get the site up an running. ”I think that wherever we can go to reach the largest number of people and get them excited about coming back to our show, you gotta do it. There are so many options out there, so many places that people could go to find their entertainment. I think it’s important to branch out and reach new viewers using the most cutting-edge technology.”
But these real-life soap opera spin-offs offer more than just a chance to lure in new viewers, according to Brian Frons, president of ABC Daytime. Frons should know — for years ABC has cornered the market on books involving its soaps’ story lines, most recently with the bestseller Charm, which was based on an All My Children character, and One Life to Live‘s The Killing Club murder mysteries. There’s even a Charm! fragrance selling at Sears these days. And although these kinds of ancillary products provide a revenue stream and good publicity, ”I think that the real fun part of it is for the audience to have something tangible that they can hold onto that’s come out of a show they love,” Frons said.
There won’t be any ads or products available for sale at restlessstyle.com, according to the show’s rep, but the characters will have a presence on the website. ”There’s going to be a very definite connection, so that when you are on the website, while it will feel like a very real and full website, it will always have a connection back to the show and input from the characters,” Griffith said.
And it’s fair to assume that folks at Y & R, which just received 17 Emmy nominations, are hoping that life imitates art and the immediate success the website had on the show last week also happens in the real world.
EW.COM EXCLUSIVE: NE-YO ON AMC
It is a ceremony almost 20 years in the making — and the groom had to come back from the dead to do it — but tomorrow (May 21) Jesse (Darnell Williams) and Angie (Debbie Morgan) will remarry with soul crooner Ne-Yo as the event’s surprise performer. Here?s an exclusive preview of the singer’s scenes.