SOAP FANS WANT THEIR SUDS, AND NEW OUTLETS DELIVER.
Too big a dose of soap operas? To fans of daytime drama, that's like saying ``too much sports'' to a jock, or ``too many high heels'' to Imelda Marcos.
The biggest dose ever of the daytime dramas rife with love, lust, betrayal, interrupted weddings and presumed-dead evil twins is about to hit televisions - and computers - everywhere. Well, at least in lots of places, depending on which cable company you subscribe to.
--SoapNet, the first all-soaps, all-the-time network, will debut today JAN. 24 in some areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties with same-day reruns of ABC soaps ``All My Children,'' ``General Hospital,'' ``One Life to Life'' and ``Port Charles,'' plus long-canceled ABC daytime soap ``Ryan's Hope,'' and nighttime soaps ``Knots Landing,'' ``The Colbys,'' ``Sisters,'' ``Falcon Crest'' and ``Hotel,'' all from Warner Bros.
The 24-hour network, the brainchild of Disney/ABC Cable Networks, also promises to air original programming, movies and periodically add to its lineup of resurrected soaps.
Initially, SoapNet will only be available to cable viewers in south Orange County, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, but the network is negotiating with Valley and Ventura County cable firms and promises to try to make 24-hour soaps available soon in those areas. (To request SoapNet in your area, dial toll-free (877) 926-8762 to be connected to your cable provider.) By mid-March, say SoapNet officials, the all-soaps network will be broadcast to DirecTV's 8-million-plus satellite subscribers.
--The Soap Opera Store, which went online Jan. 14 at a soap star-filled gala in Los Angeles, is accessible to anybody with a computer hooked up to the Internet. At www.soapoperastore.com, soap fans can buy everything from logoed coffee mugs, T-shirts and tote bags to one-of-a- kind soap opera memorabilia, including items worn by stars on all 10 soaps (plus ``Another World'' and ``Sunset Beach,'' which recently went off the air) and items from the stars' own closets. The first item that'll be sold in an eBay-type auction will be a size-0 dress worn by Susan Lucci, ``AMC's'' Erica Kane.
SOS also plans to air its own online soap opera, story-line updates, gossip, online chats with stars and, within a few months, its own online soap opera magazine, said Mary Ann Cooper, one of four founders bankrolling the new Web site.
--SoapCity, another all-soaps network backed by Columbia TriStar Television Group, is in the works, but plans haven't been firmed up yet.
In a press release issued last June, Columbia said it had obtained the rights to rebroadcast NBC's ``Days of Our Lives'' and CBS' ``The Young and the Restless,'' ``Guiding Light'' and ``As the World Turns,'' as well as NBC's canceled ``Another World.''
With 45 hours of first-run soap opera programming airing already each week on the three major networks, is there a market for all these extra suds?
You bet, say soap industry reps.
Jacklyn Zeman, who for the past 20-plus years has played nurse Bobbie Spencer on ``General Hospital'' and is one of the actor/sponsors of the new SOS Web site, said soap fans are probably the most loyal TV watchers there are. If there are more soaps, more often, she says, they'll watch them.
``Soap fans just can't get enough,'' Zeman said.
(1) ``General Hospital's'' Anthony Geary and Genie Francis are coming to SoapNet with same-day reruns.
(2) ``All My Children,'' with Susan Lucci and Vincent Irizarry, is also coming to the 24-hour cable network.
(3) SoapNet plans to bring back many canceled daytime soaps and nightime dramas, including ''Knots Landing.''