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CBS developing first Black daytime soap in 35 years with “The Bold and The Beautiful” writer

Not since 1989's "Generations" has a Black family been at the center of a sudser.

CBS is teaming up with the NAACP to make TV history. Together, they will develop The Gates, the first daytime soap with a predominantly Black cast since 1989’s Generations.

The new series will follow the lives of a wealthy Black family in a posh community. At the helm of it is Emmy-winning daytime veteran Michele Val Jean, who has been a writer on The Bold and the Beautiful since 2012. Val Jean will be its showrunner, writer, and executive producer.

The Gates will be everything we love about daytime drama, from a new and fresh perspective,” said Sheila Ducksworth, president of the CBS Studios NAACP venture, in a statement. “This series will salute an audience that has been traditionally underserved, with the potential to be a groundbreaking moment for broadcast television. With multidimensional characters, juicy storylines, and Black culture front and center, The Gates will have impactful representation, one of the key touchstones of the venture.”

<p>Everett Collection</p> Vivica A. Fox in a promotional photo for 1989's 'Generations'

Everett Collection

Vivica A. Fox in a promotional photo for 1989's 'Generations'

Thanking fans for their kindness on social media, Val Jean pointed out that the announcement came on the birthday of late soap star and five-time Daytime Emmy nominee Jacklyn Zeman, who died in May 2023 after being diagnosed with cancer.

“I’m so profoundly touched by the overwhelmingly positive response to [The Gates],” Val Jean wrote. “What made this announcement especially poignant was it happened on @JackieZeman ‘s birthday. She would have loved this.”

Val Jean’s involvement is something of a full-circle moment because, in addition to penning episodes of General Hospital and Santa Barbara, she was a writer for NBC’s Generations.

That trailblazing series, which was the first-ever daytime soap to feature a Black family at its center, premiered to much fanfare in 1989. But after weeks of ranking last in network ratings, NBC pulled the plug on it just 13 months after its premiere.

“The amount of publicity we got from mainstream media was off the charts,” series creator Sally Sussman told EW for the show’s 35th anniversary last month. "Time, Newsweek, New York Times, everything. This show was so far ahead of its time. However, it wasn't designed that way. It was designed to feature African American family life, white family life, and mixed family life, organically.”

She added that the cancellation came during “pre-internet days,” despite a massive fan campaign to save Generations. “Had the internet existed then, you and I both know that show would never have been canceled,” she said.

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