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All My Children has been captivating daytime audiences with lies, betrayal, thrills, kills and (of course) illicit love affairs for more than four decades. It has spawned the most recognizable soap-opera character of all time in Susan Lucci's Erica Kane. And it has helped to launch the careers of notable Hollywood stars including Josh Duhamel, Amanda Seyfried, Melissa Leo, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Christian Slater and Kelly Ripa. But after a storied 41-year-run, the ABC soap opera is in serious danger of cancellation.
Back in February, Daytime Confidential broke the news that ABC was looking to add a daytime talk show to its fall 2011 lineup, a move that would likely mean that one of its three soap operas -- AMC, One Life to Live and General Hospital -- would end up on the chopping block. And now, Deadline is also reporting that ABC is ready to trim its soap-opera lineup, singling out All My Children as the most likely candidate for cancellation.
"It's no secret the soaps aren't as profitable as they once were," an industry insider told Daytime Confidential, "and two of the ABC soaps have been over budget in recent years."
Indeed, only One Life to Live consistently comes in under budget. And since General Hospital is the strongest performer and the best-known brand for the network, it is likely safe. That leaves All My Children vulnerable. It doesn't help matters that AMC is the lowest-rated of the six daytime dramas currently on the air, with an average viewership of just 2.32 million.
While ABC has yet to reveal a decision on the future of any of its soaps, it seems inevitable that one of them will have to go. Of the three major networks airing soaps, ABC is the only one that has yet to nix a daytime drama -- in recent years CBS has drop-kicked The Guiding Light and As the World Turns, while NBC has jettisoned Passions.
One thing seems clear: If one of ABC's shows fate is shaky, it'll likely be All My Children. So don't start the mourning yet, but you might want to keep those tissues handy just in case.