Remembering the Online Revival of ‘All My Children’ & ‘One Life to Live,’ 10 Years Later
Unlike its mortal characters, One Life to Live actually had two lives to live. Production company Prospect Park saved both OLTL and its fellow long-running soap All My Children, another ABC daytime drama, from cancellation 10 years ago this month.
ABC and Prospect Park announced the resurrections in a press release on July 7, 2011, touting that the production company would deliver both shows to consumers “via online formats and additional emerging platforms…with the same quality and in the same format and length.”
It was the kind of un-cancellation that TV fans dream about, especially those who gave April 4, 2011, the moniker “Black Thursday,” since that was the day ABC announced the end of OLTL and AMC on linear TV.
“We are privileged to continue the legacy of two of the greatest programs to air on daytime television, and are committed to delivering the storylines, characters and quality that audiences have come to love for over 40 years,” Prospect Park’s Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz said in a joint statement upon the ABC deal. “All My Children and One Life to Live are television icons, and we are looking forward to providing anytime, anywhere viewing to their loyal community of millions.”
But the transition was not an easy one. While Prospect Park got almost every One Life to Live actor on board with that soap’s digital continuation, All My Children cast members revealed they hadn’t yet been invited to the party, and rumor had it Prospect Park was prioritizing OLTL over the lower-rated AMC, according to Soap Central.
Then, in November 2011, Prospect Park announced that the revivals were over before they even began. “In the end, the constraints of the current marketplace, including the evolution and impact of new media on our industry, simply proved too great a match for even our passion,” the company said in a statement.
It wasn’t until more than a year later that Prospect Park worked out the kinks and got both shows on the road, announcing that new 30-minute episodes would soon stream online four days a week via Hulu, iTunes, and the company’s streaming platform—unhelpfully titled The Online Network, or TOLN.
The new episodes finally hit the web with great fanfare in April 2013, but two weeks later, Prospect Park announced that it would start releasing only two new episodes per week, announcing the news a press release that suggested that the show’s viewers were having trouble keeping up with four 30-minute episodes per week.
And the hits kept coming, according to Soap Central’s recap of the behind-the-scenes drama—a labor dispute resulted in a two-week work stoppage on both shows, and shortly afterward, Prospect Park surprised fans by announcing that both shows’ first seasons were coming to abrupt ends.
Then, in September 2013, news broke that Prospect Park would be suspending One Life to Live amid a legal dispute with ABC over OLTL characters and actors who had been loaned to General Hospital. And two months later, All My Children stars told fans that their show, too, had died another death.
“I guess what really hurts my gut are all the positive proclamations I gave to all of you that we’d definitely be coming back,” Debbi Morgan (Angie Baxter Hubbard) tweeted at the time. “The show is not coming back. … It’s so sad and just a real bummer.”
Cady McClain (Dixie Cooney Martin) addressed All My Children’s end-with-a-whimper too. “If you aren’t hearing anything about the ending of AMC as we know it, it’s really out of shock,” she wrote on Facebook. “I am also trying to allow [Prospect Park] to have the moment to contact all the actors and explain what is and has been going on with AMC, and then gather themselves to try and explain it all to you, the fans.”
Now there’s little evidence those resurrections ever occurred. The episodes are gone from Hulu, Prospect Park filed for bankruptcy in 2014, and the TOLN website is void of any content.
And in years since, actors from the shows have looked back at the online revivals with bemusement. “That whole Prospect Park thing was difficult, and it was a lot to ask of any writer to make it work,” One Life to Live’s Michael Easton, who played one of the characters in the middle of ABC and Prospect Park’s dispute, told TV Insider in 2016. “Three actors were suddenly recast as new people and only Roger Howarth survived it.”
And in 2020, All My Children’s Chrishell Stause (Amanda Dillon) told Entertainment Weekly she preferred the AMC writers’ original, closed-ended conclusion to the show’s ABC run. “They wrote this beautiful ending for everyone,” the actress said. “Every single character really had a beautiful storyline … In my head, I like to think of it the way that it was written originally.”
Perhaps All My Children, at least, will get another shot at a happily-ever-after: Prospect Park’s lawsuit against ABC was dismissed in 2016, and the rights to both shows reverted to the broadcast network. And this January, we learned that a primetime AMC spinoff is in development at ABC, with married alums Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos on board as executive producers.