January 23, 1995 in Nation/World

Days Of Our Lives To Be Filled With O.J. Trial

John Engstrom Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Not to worry about knowing what’s happening in O.J. Simpson’s trial. It’ll be tougher NOT knowing.

Once opening statements begin today, it will be almost impossible to stay out of the high-tech storm of TV and radio reports.

Despite a recent ABC survey in which more than 80 percent of respondents said there has been too much O.J. coverage, one state TV news director told his staff he believes 98 percent of the audience will watch some of the murder trial coverage.

But some viewers may be unwilling. The networks are expecting soap opera fans to scream bloody murder over pre-emptions and interruptions.

“I’m dreading it because I’m the one who takes the (angry) phone calls,” said a CBS spokeswoman.

The networks say that if a soap is pre-empted, the episode will air on the next day when its regular time slot is available. And episodes will run in sequence.

It’s when a soap episode is interrupted or joined in progress that things get sticky. Late last week, the networks still were trying to decide what to do.

“If we’re 40 minutes into an episode and lose the last 20 minutes, we may just have to lose it,” said the CBS spokeswoman. “But if it’s a very important episode, like the culmination of a major story line, we may ask that it be repeated the next day.”

CBS is preparing “soap classics” - important episodes from past years - that could be aired instead of a scheduled episode when a soap must be joined in progress.

ABC has created “SoapLine,” an update format to keep the network’s soap fans informed and calmed despite trial interruptions. It is scheduled to run before each of the network’s one-hour dramas to bring viewers up to speed on story lines.

“We see it sort of like a pilot on a plane that’s hit some turbulence,” said Rodi Rosensweig, ABC daytime programming spokeswoman. “We’ll tell our loyal soap fans, ‘It’s a little shaky right now, but don’t worry - everything will be all right and you won’t miss your soaps.”’

xxxx “Stations offer marathon coverage.”

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email