More Soap Deaths: ABC Axes ‘One Life to Live,’ ‘All My Children’

With the cancellation of the venerable daytime melodramas, there are only four remaining soap operas

ABC announced Thursday that it will cancel venerable daytime dramas "One Life to Live" and "All My Children," leaving only four English-language soap operas on the air.

ABC described the move as an evolution, and simultaneously announced two new lifestyle shows, "The Chew" and "The Revolution."

The cancellations add to the huge change coming to ABC owned-and-operated stations, with Oprah Winfrey's long-running syndicated series set to sign off May 25.

It also represents, in the words of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, "a devastating loss for thousands of AFTRA members, union crew members and production staff in Los Angeles and New York."

"While we are excited about our new shows and the shift in our business, I can't help but recognize how bittersweet the change is," said Brian Frons, the president of daytime for Disney ABC/Television Group. "We are taking this bold step to expand our business because viewers are looking for different types of programming these days."

The network promised in a news release to "conclude each series in a manner that respects their legacies and the longstanding hopes of many of their viewers."

Both "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" were created more than four decades ago by Agnes Nixon. 

"All My Children," set in fictional Pine Valley, a town that closely resembles the Philadelphia Main Line, premiered on ABC on January 5, 1970, as a half-hour show; seven years later it expanded to an hour. It is shot in Los Angeles.

"One Live to Live," set in the fictional town of Llanview, which is modeled on a Philadelphia suburb, debuted July 15, 1968 as a half-hour show and became an hourlong in 1978. It is shot in New York.

"All My Children" won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1992, 1994, and 1998. It has received more than 30 Emmy Awards in all, as has taken on such social issues as AIDS, abortion, cochlear implants, teenage alcoholism, racial bias, acquaintance rape, spousal abuse, homosexuality, Reyes syndrome, Vietnam MIAs, and more. The show aired daytime's first same-sex kiss between two lesbian characters, as well as its first same-sex wedding between two women.

"One Life to Live" won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series in 2002. Its daytime firsts include stories of interracial romance, illiteracy, medical misdiagnosis, racial prejudice, gang violence and teen pregnancy.

Among its most celebrated storylines was one in 1992 about a gay teen (the then-unknown Ryan Phillippe) that culminated with the display of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation named it Outstanding Daytime Drama in 1993, 2005 and 2010.

"The Chew," which will premiere in September 2011, focuses on food as a source of joy, health, family ritual, friendship, breaking news, dating, fitness, weight loss, and travel. The hosts Mario Batali (Food Network's "Iron Chef America"); entertaining expert Clinton Kelly (TLC's "What Not to Wear"); Carla Hall (Bravo's "Top Chef"); Michael Symon ("Iron Chef America"), and nutrition expert Daphne Oz.

"The Revolution," a working title, which will premiere in January 2012. The show, from "Biggest Loser" producers JD Roth and 3 Ball Productions, focuses on health and lifestyle transformations. The hosts include Tim Gunn ("Project Runway"), trainer Harley Pasternak and "American Idol" alum Kimberley Locke.