Exec who canceled ABC soaps: leaving network
The ABC executive who played a key role in canceling All My Children and One Life to Live is leaving the network. The departure of Brian Frons, who will leave in January, comes at a time when ABC has decided to merge its daytime and syndicated units into one division called Time Square Studio.
ABC exec Vicki Dummer, who oversees current series and specials for the net, will head the new division encompassing The View, General Hospital, The Chew, The Revolution, Katie, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
Frons has served as the daytime’s head since 2002 and his contract ends in January. The network says it was his decision to leave. “Brian Frons has been the driving force in our successful Daytime division since joining us in 2002, and while we understand his decision to leave at the end of his contract, we’re sad to see him go,” said Anne Sweeney, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, in a statement. “We took this opportunity to rethink our business, and the result was the creation of Times Square Studios.”
Frons had this to say: ‘While my decision to try something new was not arrived at easily, nine years is a long time in television terms. I’m proud of the performance of ABC Daytime over that time, and of all of the accomplishments that our team achieved along the way. I’m especially pleased by the early results for The Chew and excited for the launch of The Revolution, which will be one more positive step in transforming ABC Daytime for our viewers. I’ll miss my colleagues and the wonderful talent that makes our shows, but know they are in very capable hands with Vicki going forward.”
Frons bore the brunt of fan rage over the decision to cancel All My Children and One Life to Live. Both shows were not only expensive to produce but generated low ratings for the network, but that didn’t seem to quell the anger of soap fans who are already concerned about the death of the daytime drama genre. Earlier this year, Frons replaced AMC with The Chew, which is averaging 500,000 viewers less than the soap, but is still cheaper to produce. The Revolution will bow Jan. 16 after OLTL ends its storied run.
In the current issue of EW, Frons defends his decision to replace the soaps with lifestyle programs. “People are really interested in multiple points of view, multiple voices. Daytime viewers are also saying that if they are going to give us an hour a day, we need to give them something that is going to improve their lives…. All of daytime is learning to survive on smaller audience shares because there are so many choices. You can’t spend more money for less audience. That’s why you see people going toward programming forms that cost less to produce.”