Thursday, November 19, 2009

Martha Byrne Talks GOTHAM on "Not Picture Perfect"

Two-time Emmy winner Martha Byrne was a guest on the "Not Picture Perfect" radio show last night. She spoke about her roles on AS THE WORLD TURNS and GENERAL HOSPITAL and offered some background and a preview of her upcoming indie soap, GOTHAM, which debuts on Monday, November 23, at 8 p.m. ET.

This is an hour drama pilot that I wrote a year ago. In shopping it around in the industry, the climate for soap operas was a little tepid. The passion for it wasn't there like it was fifteen years ago. With GUIDING LIGHT going off the air, and the amount of money it costs to produce a new show, it was a tough sell. I had some action with it that kind of fizzled out. I met with someone at FOX Television Studios and he said, "Look, you've got a great concept here. Why don't you do this on the internet? Why don't you do something yourself? Get it out there for people to see what you're doing and your concept."

So I literally flew back from L.A. and started typing these webisodes. The pilot was a standalone hour pilot and what I decided to do is a prequel to that pilot, understanding the relationship of the two characters, giving the audience backstory to who these two people are, Michael Park, who plays Richard, and myself, and keeping it very classic soap opera. When you have 4-5 minutes to tell a story each week or every other week depending on how we're going to air these shows, you have to keep it pretty simple.

I come from a school of the soaps I like to watch, what I like to play as an actor, what I saw on other soaps that I admired, and the response that I would get from fans that they liked. The things they liked the most are romance, love stories, and star-crossed lovers. This is my own experience and the only way to know if it's the correct way to approach this is the fans and to see how they respond to it. I was involved as an actor with Douglas Marland, who was probably the most incredible daytime writer of his generation. He had simple rules about writing soaps. I'm going to try to apply those rules.

To listen to the entire interview, check out "Not Picture Perfect".


  1. So this seems consistent with what we're reading from some of the other web soap creators as well (e.g., Lauralee Bell). The short-term goal of these webisodes is to create buzz and an awareness of concept...but the long-term goal is to create a product that might sell to mainstream/traditional media. This is probably wise because, at present, it's still not possible to make money on the web.

    I worry about this approach, though, because the one high-profile concept (Herskovitz and Zwick's "quarterlife") was a very high-profile failure as well.

    These are interesting times, as well struggle to understand the financial model that will make non-traditional distribution cost effective. I think some of this has to involve de-conditioning audiences to expect "free" and "advertiser supported" content.

  2. Mark, I think this is a common approach because it is so hard to sell a show these days and your chances increase if you have some buzz. And also, from a creative standpoint, you can produce the exact show you want when you roll it out versus having your concept interfered with by a network before people see it.

    Tristan Rogers is taking a completely different approach though. If you read my interview with him, he talks a lot about that.

  3. Loved the article and look forward to seeing this. i love Martha Byrne so I am excited to see her and Michael Park. I hope its a great success. we need help in saving our soaps as my column is aimed at. I write for the NY Examiner pleasesubscibe Thanks