When ABC Super Soap Weekend 2008 turned out to be the last, soap fans never dreamed it was a glimpse into a future without their favorite shows. For over 40 years, America tuned in every weekday to visit the residents of Pine Valley and Llanview. Stars such as Grey’s Anatomy’s Chandra Wilson recorded their programs because they couldn’t miss one minute of the lives of the characters they knew as well as their own families. When All My Children and One Life to Live aired their last episodes in late 2011 and early 2012, respectively, fans of all ages grabbed their tissues to bid goodbye. But there was one last ray of hope: Prospect Park entered a license agreement with ABC before the shows went off the air and promised fans it would revive them both online, but their resurrections were short lived, each lasting only a few months in 2013.

All My Children has peaceably ended its online run, but One Life to Live’s characters remain embroiled in a legal battle between ABC and Prospect Park. General Hospital fans were shocked when some of Llanview’s finest arrived in Port Charles following an agreement allowing limited use of seven of Llanview’s most prominent citizens. However, Prospect Park quickly regretted its decision when ABC introduced Starr Manning as Michael Corinthos’ new love interest via the tragic deaths of her baby and boyfriend and made Todd and John McBain key characters in the lives of General Hospital’s most popular characters.

Prospect Park says ABC gave up its character rights, and an amendment to the licensing agreement required ABC to get approval of General Hospital story lines involving its recently acquired characters. Furthermore, the agreement included profit-sharing for ABC, which Prospect Park says led them to believe ABC would not use the characters in any way that would hinder the success of One Life to Live.

Prospect Park sued ABC for $95 million, alleging fraud and purposeful sabotage of its attempted relaunch in its quest for a “mega soap.” Prospect Park alleges ABC secretly negotiated multi-year contracts with key actors to prevent Prospect Park from taking full advantage of the licensing agreement. Prospect Park now claims its failed revival was due to breach of express terms and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

For its part, ABC says Prospect Park is asking the court to rewrite the contract because it is unhappy with the results of the amendments to the license agreement that gave Prospect Park more time to begin production and allowed ABC to continue using One Life to Live characters on General Hospital.

Today, Prospect Park’s demands are much different than they were last April: as filed, the lawsuit only asked for $25 million. Since then, Prospect Park has increased the lawsuit to $125 million, including $30 million in out-of-pocket losses and $95 million in lost profits.

Today, some key One Life to Live actors are still on General Hospital, but they now play new characters, which Prospect Park also alleges is a strategic move to prevent fans’ favorite actors from getting involved in the latest One Life to Live resurrection. It remains to be seen who will “win” the lawsuit, but the real losers are the fans who first lost their programs once to the inevitable march of time — and now a second time, to this ever-more-complicated legal battle.

–Chastity Bobo


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