SoapNet at 5: Honoring the Genre With ‘Talk’

May 9, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Alan Carter

Special to TelevisionWeek

They get stars from the world of soaps, but they also book big names from music and prime time. They tape six shows in two days, and they do it all with a crew about one-fifth the size used by the other daytime talk shows.

How does “Soap Talk” (11 a.m. ET), the one-hour talk show that SoapNet launched in June 2002, keep earning its popular and critical success? Well, even the folks who work on the multiple Emmy-nominated show aren’t entirely sure.

Said executive producer Kari Sagin, “I think stars know they can come to our show and know that we will treat them with respect and not make fun of the genre. We honor the soaps here.”

That’s an understatement. “Soap Talk,” hosted by former soap stars Lisa Rinna (“Melrose Place,” “Days of Our Lives”) and Ty Treadway (“One Life to Live”), gives its soap world guests the kind of platform they’re unlikely to find anywhere else. The show’s guests have, on occasion, jumped out of a plane, taken audience members on tours of their homes, even dated fans.

Ms. Sagin, who also produced “The Maury Povich Show” and “Sally Jesse Raphael,” for which she won an Emmy in 1990, jumped at the chance to help run this series. “Just about every place I’ve worked before, it was a hard thing to get a soap person booked,” she said.

“The daytime audience loves soaps. Should I book the fourth lead on `Cold Case,’ who they have never seen? Or should I get Bobbie Eakes, who they love on `All My Children’? What is hard about that [decision]?”

An Easy Choice

It wasn’t a tough choice for Ms. Rinna either, when she was asked to host. “I had just had my second child, and I was already bitten by the hosting bug when I got to co-host with Regis [Philbin],” she said, referring to her tryout period on what ultimately became “Live With Regis and Kelly.” “It sounded like a great idea to me.”

At first, “Soap Talk” tested Ms. Rinna with three different women, but sparks didn’t fly until she was teamed with Mr. Treadway.

“I knew when Ty walked in that he would be the one,” Ms. Rinna said, “and not just because he is gorgeous. But I’m a bit of a tomboy. And you’re going to get better chemistry with me and a guy.”

Ms. Sagin called Mr. Treadway “one of the best, hardest-working hosts I’ve ever worked with.”

She said Ms. Rinna wins over the largely female audience with sheer honesty and humor. “I don’t know another woman who would mention that she shaves over her upper lip on TV,” said Ms. Sagin. “The audience can really relate to her. I think we are very lucky to have them both.”