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ABC: 2 landmark soaps to end 40-year runs

Susan Lucci and Michael Nader as Erica and

Susan Lucci and Michael Nader as Erica and Dimitri on "All My Children." Photo Credit: ABC, 1993

ABC said Thursday that two landmark soap operas, "All My Children" and "One Life to Live," will end their 40-year runs.

"It's been a fantastic journey," "AMC's" best-known performer, Susan Lucci, a longtime resident of Garden City, said in a statement. "I've loved playing Erica Kane and working with [creator] Agnes Nixon and all the incredible people involved with 'All My Children.' I'm looking forward to all kinds of new and exciting opportunities."

"AMC" leaves the air in September, while "OLTL" wraps in January 2012, the network said.

Two other soaps also ended their decades-long runs in recent years, CBS' "Guiding Light" (2009) and "As the World Turns" (2010). But the loss of the ABC series was a particularly bitter reminder of the genre's decline and fall.

Starting in the early 1970s, both "AMC" and "OLTL" were in the vanguard of a movement that pushed the hidebound soap genre into featuring more socially relevant story lines.

At a time when soaps were largely content to weave melodramatic tales of love and loss -- sometimes to the strains of organ music -- this pair charged into stories about racial bias, homosexuality, drug abuse and veterans' issues. When Lucci finally won a Daytime Emmy as best actress in 1999 (after 18 straight losses), her victory was for a story line about transgender issues.

"I was saddened today, but not surprised," said Megan McTavish, "AMC's" longtime head writer and one of its creative forces over two decades, before she left in 2007. "You could see it coming. The genre is dated -- we know that -- and it's expensive. In this day and age, you can't blame ABC. They're a business. [But] this was a confluence of circumstances that you could see coming but you just weren't sure when it would come to this."

But she added, "Lucci deserves great credit" for "AMC's" longevity in part because "she is what made it recognizable to the cabdriver who doesn't even watch soaps."

Ratings, as they have for all soaps, have slid in recent years due to changing workplace and viewing habits. Both series are seen by an average of about 2 1/2 million viewers daily. ABC said they'll be replaced by talk shows about food and lifestyles.

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