Soapnet Gets Into Scripted Drama

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SoapNet is getting into original scripted series, greenlighting General Hospital: Night Shift, an extension of the ABC Daytime drama. The Disney-ABC-owned cable network plans to begin production on 13 hour-long episodes in a few months for a summer premiere.

At a time when daytime viewing of soaps is decreasing, Soapnet is playing an ever more important role in supporting the genre, especially for its corporate parent. The network, which in January saw a 48% jump in primetime viewing year over year, runs same-day reruns of ABC's network-owned soaps, as well as some others and some unscripted soap-related originals.

Night Shift will be written and executive-produced by GH's head team - Robert Guza Jr. and Jill Farren Phelps - and will explore what happens during the night shift at the hospital.

SoapNet, now in 60 million homes and more than midway to being fully distributed, is also broadening its Daytime Emmy coverage and adding new specials. The network will run a two-hour live red carpet Daytime Emmy special June 14, as well as a half-hour fashion recap.

The network is also planning specials with All My Children's Susan Lucci and General Hospital's Tony Geary and Genie Francis.