Mailbag: Soaps online, James Arness, ‘B&B’s’ Ridge

By Rich Heldenfels Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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The cast of All My Children is seen in an undated photo provided by Ferencomm for The Online Network. The Online Network (TOLN) announced March 11, the highly-anticipated online debuts of the beloved long-running serial dramas All My Children and One Life to Live for Monday, April 29. Both soap operas were cancelled a little more than a year ago by ABC, which had broadcast them for decades. (AP Photo/Ferencomm for The Online Network)

If it’s Thursday, this must be the mailbag.

Q: I am still trying to understand how to watch the new versions of “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” if you do not have Hulu (whatever that is — I have no idea) or iTunes (I don’t know what that is either) and if you don’t have some thing like that, then what? There are a lot of people that don’t have those things, so how do they expect to get a lot of viewers?

A: When All My Children and One Life to Live begin new telecasts on April 29, they will be online shows available through Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes. That means you need a computer or a smart TV connected to the Internet, or other devices, including phones and tablets, that have access to Hulu or iTunes. If you can connect your computer or other device to your TV, you can then watch on your television screen.

Hulu is a service carrying recent and old movies and episodes of TV shows; Hulu does not charge a fee but Hulu Plus does. The Apple empire includes iTunes, a download service with music, movies, TV shows and other material you can obtain for your iPod and other devices.

As for making money, in television, it’s not about the number of viewers you have, it’s about how you generate revenue.

A relatively small audience can be lucrative if you are HBO, for instance, because each of those viewers is paying a fee for your service. If your audience has a lot of young viewers, or well-off viewers, then advertisers may be willing to buy ads in your show because they will reach their desired audience, while a show with more viewers doesn’t have the same demographics.

For the soaps, there will be several revenue streams. The Hulu telecasts will include commercials, Hulu Plus is a subscription service so people pay a monthly fee to get it (and will still have commercials in the telecasts) and iTunes will charge 99 cents per episode downloaded or $10 per month for a subscription. Look also for product placement in the shows.

In addition, Prospect Park, the company behind these online soaps, sees cost benefits in going online. Jeff Kwatinetz, the co-founder and CEO of Prospect Park, told Forbes magazine earlier in April that online is “the best means of distribution in terms of convenience, cost and accessibility. …

“We don’t have to deal with region by region markets for distribution,” he said. “We also eliminate carriage and distribution fees by going online. Our programs will still reach an extremely large audience, who don’t need to have a DVR to access our programs. Fans can access the content whenever, wherever.”

With the right gear, of course. And while Prospect Park has the option of selling these shows to cable or broadcast channels, for now it is focused online.

Q: I would like to know if James Arness is still alive. The one from “Gunsmoke.” I know Ken Curtis, Amanda Blake and Milburn Stone died. Would also like to know where Arness lives, how old he is and if he had any family.

A: Bad news first. Arness died in June 2011 at the age of 88. His younger brother, Peter, also became an actor — as Peter Graves. You may remember him from Mission: Impossible and other shows and movies; Graves died in 2010, days before his 84th birthday.

Here’s how the New York Times summed up Arness’ family life after he died: “In 1948 he married Virginia Chapman and adopted her son by a previous marriage, Craig. The couple had two children, Jenny and Rolf, and were divorced in 1963. In 1978 he married Janet Surtees; they lived in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. She and Rolf Arness survive him, along with a stepson, Jim Surtees. Survivors also include six grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Jenny Arness died in 1975, and Craig in 2004.”

Q: What happened to Ridge on “The Bold and the Beautiful?”

A: Ronn Moss, who played Ridge Forrester on the CBS daytime drama for 25 years, left the show in 2012. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said, “I felt that I needed to go in this new direction to give myself the chance to do all the creative things that I haven’t had a chance to do in 25 years, because I’ve dedicated so much of my life to this.” The part has not been recast so far.

Q: What is the status on the TV show “Make It Or Break It?” The last time the television show was on the air was prior to the 2012 London Olympics. Did the producers decide not to make the show anymore? I was hoping the show would return so people could find out what happened after they went to the Olympics.

A: ABC Family decided not to continue the series about the ups and downs of a gymnastics team in April 2012 after three seasons. The last telecast premiered in May of that year, and took the gymnasts through the Olympic trials. If you want to revisit the show, the first two seasons are on DVD and the all three are on Amazon Instant Video and Netflix.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and, including the HeldenFiles Online, He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or

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