'One Life to Live' exec producer Frank Valentini staying at the helm -- EXCLUSIVE interview

Photo credit: JPI Studios

When so much of the news about soaps these days has to do with endings, One Life to Live executive producer Frank Valentini’s story seems to give hope to the genre. Valentini, 48, has spent all of his 25-year television career at OLTL, working his way up from assistant to the executive producer, and recently re-upped for another two-year stint as showrunner.

When he joined the show in September 1985 as assistant to then-EP Paul Rauch, Valentini had no real exposure to soaps and definitely didn’t foresee it being such an integral part of his life. “I was just a film and television major from the University of Buffalo who wanted a production job. I had no preconceived notions, no prejudices, and no favoritism,” says Valentini.  “[Rauch] asked me if I was willing to work hard. I said yeah, if you’ll teach me.”

Turns out learning is kind of what Valentini is all about. As he made his way up the ladder (as associate director, stage manager, coordinating producer and senior supervising producer/director), Valentini also studied acting (“to become a more knowledgeable director”), stage combat, and photography (“because being a director is really about me taking photographs”). He’s since become a published photographer a few times over.

While his work fostered new interests, it also allowed him to nurture his love of music by continuing OLTL’s tradition of having contemporary music artists perform on the show. In recent years, thanks in large part to the connections of music director Paul Glass, artists such as Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Timbaland, One Republic, and All American Rejects have come through Llanview. Now Valentini’s considering spotlighting emerging artists, “featuring some unknowns and turning the audience on to new people.”

JPI StudioSelf-proclaimed adrenaline junkie Valentini, who took the show’s top spot on his 40th birthday in 2002, has had other offers throughout the years, but credits his ability to take on new projects simultaneously with satisfying his wanderlust. In 2008, he directed ESPN’s Endless Drama baseball web campaign and last year did ABC Daytime’s “What If” webisodes, which had well-known characters from All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital running into each other.

And when he’s not working, he’s traveling. He’s hit 70 countries already with plans to travel to Mongolia this summer. “It’s important for me to get very far away… for my sanity,” he jokes.

The future for OLTL is bright, he says, in the short term (surprises planned for Valentine’s Day, more guests like Kourtney Kardashian and Wendy Williams) and in the long term, even as they fend off daytime contenders like CBS’s The Talk.  “We continue to do fun exciting things. We have a very strong Internet presence and Internet fan base,” says Valentini. “I think that has a lot to do with our strong young cast. It’s been key to us to maintain the characters of Llanview while introducing new family members.”

So for the next two years Valentini has lots of plans for the place he didn’t know he’d be calling home when he walked in the door 25 years ago. “I’ve really grown very fond of the cast and the crew and folks at the network,” he says. “And I’m always learning. I think when I stop learning, it’ll be time to go. But I don’t think my personality will allow that to happen.”

Follow me on Twitter at @EWAbbyWest

Comments (47 total) Add your comment
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  • tvaddict

    The only good thing this show ever did was the Oliver and Kyle storyline. Too bad they canceled it last year!!!!!! The show gave my celeb crush in Scott Evans!

    • Andrew

      If you really believe that then you havent’ seen the show ever.

    • AndyLuvr

      Unfortunately, Frank Valentini was also responsible for killing the Oliver and Kyle storyline and terminating both Scott Evans and Brett Claywell in the process. Epic fail right there on Valentini’s part for giving in to the bigots and haters, who blamed OLTL’s poor ratings on the gay story. Almost a year later, the ratings are worse without the gays. Good job, Frank. NOT.

      • Monique

        Have you looked at the ratings? They are outperforming AMC and in some cases GH in key demographic areas. I do miss Kyle and Fish, but there may be some other reasons the story was pulled behind the assumed obvious ones.

  • gato

    OLTL is the best soap right now!!

    • Brenda Barrett

      ITA. Overall, Valenti is going a great job. I do hate to hear Frank touting his “young” cast, because the three sons of Eddie Ford are the weakest link in this show; I wish all of them would be written out. I’m very pleased with most of the cast, and love that OLTL has main characters from their teens to 60+. As a 40-year-old, all of the diverse characters interest me. I’m also looking forward to Ted King joining the cast.

      • gato

        I agree, I would keep Bobby & James-Nate and Inez need to go! She is no real threat to Bora–if they recasted her and played her as a villian she could cause drama with Clint/Todd/etc, but that would mean keeping Nate…..Never mind! lol

      • gato

        Oh, I forgot her son James is “with ” Starr, so maybe it could still work!

  • Flip

    “Strong young cast”? Um no. We watch OLTL for vets like Viki, Dorian, Bo, Nora, and Marty!

    • Kim

      Seriously. The young cast is the show’s biggest drawback right now (except Eddie Alderson). The rest is great though!

  • dee

    I stayed away from OLTL for awhile, came back when they brought the Ford brothers on. Love Starr/James/Ford/Langston/Dani/Nate

  • Mark

    The KISH firing turned me off to soaps forever – you don’t treat your talent or their fans like crap and expect an audience to keep watching. OLTL is dead to me – period…bring back Brett Claywell and Scott Evans NOW!!

    • Richard

      I agree 100% Mark. At least we have the youtube videos of Kish. Maybe we can hope that those two find another great role! And if people didn’t know, Fish is Chris Evans’ brother and he is hotter and gay!

  • JN

    Viki was, is, and will always be the reason to watch. (With a little bit of Dorian thrown in).

  • Genie

    What’s nice about it is they haven’t abandoned the older characters.

    • AcaseofGeo

      If “As the World Turns” hadn’t abandoned its older characters, it would probably still be on. One reason I stopped watching is that reason. Teeny boppers can still be satisfied while utilizing a show’s rich history.

    • Brenda Barrett

      Amen. I just want to reiterate that I watch OLTL everyday (record it, actually) and Viki, Dorian, Clint, Bo and Nora are some of my most favorite characters, along with Tea, Todd, John, Natalie, Matthew and David.

  • Snugglebug

    While there is definite room for improvement, this is my favorite soap. I am happy that Frank was retained. Loving the re-incorporation of the older vets. Seeing Vicki actually get story again is awesome and long overdue. Hope that continues along with Clint, Dorian, Bo and Nora getting time.

    I am eternally grateful to OLTL for bringing back one of my favorite characters and couples in Tea Delgado (pictured above w/Frank) and Todd and Tea respectively. They re-ignited my passion for the show.

    FV clearly respects his actors and the daytime genre overall. Glad to have him running my favorite show.

  • Kristen J

    I believe out of the three soaps on ABC, OLTL is currently the best. The writing is rough around the edges, but with the vets back in the spotlight- Bo, Nora, Viki, Clint, Dorian, Charlie, the show has picked up some steam. Their stories involve other characters, which is good.

    What isn’t good about the show is the focus on the Ford family. They are horrible. Inez, James, Nate, Bobby, none are worth watching. I certainly don’t care to see a Valentine’s Show circle around them and their girlfriends.

    • Andy

      Agree the focus on the Fords is awful and the writing for them is worse. Very simple and repetitive. Beyond boring.

      • tapaje

        what is so boring about it, are you still watching lately or you just a fords hater.

    • Brenda Barrett

      Amen. The Ford family are dull characters played by average actors. I hate ‘em. And, they’ve actually made me dislike a former favorite character, Langston. I wouldn’t care now if Lang were written out; I miss the nonconformist who was in love with Marco…now she’s merely a nondescript horny teen.

    • Buzz

      The problem isn’t Just about the fords themselves but also their storylines and acting partners … the back and forth between them and Langston and Starr IS boring now and that should be broken up asap . Langston and Starr can go away on vacation somewhere too. Or they could get (real)jobs – that might make them somewhat more interesting…

  • Steven

    I am so thankful EW is giving us some coverage, albeit limited, of the underestimated soap opera genre.

  • Karen

    One Life to Live is a great show! It nevers gets the credit it deserves!! AMC is so bad!!

  • Lisa

    So this must mean a “high school musical” every year. Oh yeah (not). I must give credit though, at least he seems to be able to integrate younger and older casts in a more balanced way than other soaps. Though I really am getting tired of all these women having kids out of wedlock. This is 2011 — have none of them heard of BIRTH CONTROL?!

    On a side note, I was home sick on Monday. Kudos to the nod given Nathan Fillion, former Joey, and Castle (to the clerk, holding Castle’s novel with a pic of Fillion — “Does this guy look familiar?”)

  • Andy

    The current “young” story between Ford and Langston is sicko sick. Teen now in love with her abuser. Misogynist, gross and now even boring. Tired of the slut theme on the show. Yeh big internet buzz- facebook maybe but lots of disgruntled viewers elsewhere over the sick stories. I quit watching because of the Ford story. FV is deluded.

  • Bobby

    Unless people start to rethink soaps and bring them into the 21st century, none of them will be around much longer. OLTL is the only soap we watch but so much of it is filler and boring. The Ford brothers are weak, the weakest being Robert Ford. He can’t act and depending on a fake smile and nice abs is not equal to showing some acting chops.

    The Clint storyline is ridiculous.

    Rex and Gigi make me want to barf and the actress that plays Kelly came back and it’s as if she’s forgotten how to act.

    Amp up the suspense, make the storylines shorter and more exciting and stop trying to be a soap opera and be entertainment.

    • Brenda Barrett

      The Clint as villain/behaving like Asa s/l is actually my very favorite right now. I can’t wait to see it all hit the fan when David gets free and Bo/Nora and Rex find out what Clint has done.

  • Chris

    Rex/Gigi are my favorite couple and more Gigi Please!!!

    • Katy

      Please get on with Natalie and John..For crying out loud, I just want to scream! REVEAL that Leam is John’s baby! Darn this has drug out forever..Love this show..Enough is enough.Let poor John find out that he has a son please!!

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