Guiding Light: Keep It Burning!

Thinking Fans cherish Guiding Light memories: Levi recalls, “(GL) was a show my grandmother and I talked about on the phone and watched together. Even on her deathbed, we still talked about our favorite soap” … while Jonathan Reiner declares, “Losing GL is not just a blow for the genre, it’s a major loss for 20th Century Americana” … and David C. worries, “Now, the show has been allowed to die a good death. But is that death the beginning of the end of the U.S. daytime soap genre as we know it?” … and more. See Comments below.  

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Many years ago, I called the late Jim Reilly to see what his reaction was to an ABC soap being cancelled. His Days of Our Lives  (on NBC) was riding high and I expected him to be festive. “Oh no, Marlena,” he said. “When one soap gets cancelled, it hurts all of us.  It’s a tragedy for all soaps.”GL classic logo

And that’s how it feels now for Guiding Light (incidentally, a show Reilly was a co-headwriter for in the early 90s.)  As of this writing, GL‘s fate is officially undetermined, but last night trade stories (like this one) appeared that say official word of cancellation may be near.

That cancellation would affect everyone in the soap community.  Chances are, if you are a longtime soap watcher, you watched and loved Guiding Light at some point, or you watch and love it now.  So many generations of fantastic soap actors have passed through the show.  Over six decades of its remarkable life on TV and radio,  the town of Springfield has been a very real place.   Losing GL would not only be the loss of a media institution, it would be the loss of a piece of America that belongs to all of us.  The way its very human drama has reflected life in America all these decades, it is us.

So if you’d like to show your support for the show at this crucial time, I urge you to call, email or write.  My colleague Patrick Erwin has the contact numbers, urls and addresses you need to use to help save this show.  It’s here on his blog A Thousand Other Worlds under “Fighting Back.”

Comments

  1. Jonathan Reiner says:

    Connie —

    Losing GL is not just a blow for the genre, it’s a major loss for 20th century Americana. Guiding Light is as American as apple pie, and then some; it’s the story of religion; of immigrants who “made good”; of community in the time of the cold war; of consistency through the Vietnam era; of family values in the ’70s when other soaps were obsessed with “relevance” for the sake of being relevant; of solid, entertaining storytelling and acting; of escapism, comedy, camaraderie and family; of hope in times of despair; and of friends and family in times of loneliness and doubt.

    Every man, woman and child who has ever watched or known someone who has watched any soap needs to contact CBS and P&G to ensure that this beloved — and thriving — institution survives in some form. If not for ourselves, then for the memory of those who built and appreciated this show over the past 72 years.

    JR

    Marlena says: Jonathan, this is beautifully written! So proud of you as always!

  2. Giada says:

    Thank you Marlena. Let’s hope for the better. Losing GL is just unthinkable.

  3. Giada says:

    I’ve just written to CBS and asked them not to cancel GL. It’s truly a piece of American culture, even before being a piece of entertainment.

    You know, in my opinion, the first thing soaps need to change, if they want to attract new viewers, are the ads. I ADORE soaps, yet every time I try a new one, it’s torture for me. I have to force myself through one episode, and I wouldn’t choose to watch a second. Soaps are just hard in the beginning. I’ve “studied” myself and I believe that the ads they are making do not work. I would rarely watch a soap on the basis of the kinds of commercials they make. They need a radical change. They need to go in the opposite direction. They should abandon fast-paced, plot-oriented flashes and do small slow nuggets of storylines, a soap in themselves. One drop at a time. The commercial should be a soap. If the public want more, they can have more. And with that little day by day drop, they will want more. The flashes may grab your attention for a second or two, but they do not make you a soap viewer. Ads built as a micro-soap would. If only they were listening…

    Marlena says: Giada, what year did you first start watching American soaps? Because what you describe here is kind what they used to be, up until about 1990 or so….

  4. Blake says:

    I have been reading about this from various websites since yesterday and the more I read about it the more scared I get about it really being cancelled! I pray that the show is not cancelled, especially when the show is so great to watch again! I pray to the soap gods that we have Guiding Light around for a LONG time.

  5. Chip Capelli says:

    Guiding Light started on radio the year my mother was born. It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I can recall Hope being kidnapped when I was about 6 and being afraid that would happen to me. The Four Musketeers graduated high school on the same day that I did (in 1983, NOT 1984 as the recent reunion would have you believe -plus Mindy did not go to Springfield High, but I digress….).
    I have not watched the show regularly in years, but it has always been a comfort to know that it’s there. Everyone needs to do thier part to save this American treasure. Jonathan said it best: It would be a major loss for 20th Century Americana.

    Marlena says: Hi Chip, my friend! This letter shows how closely we identify with our soaps. The first soap party I ever went to was one here in a gorgeous Soho loft thrown in 1980 by the Jamaican Tourist Board to celebrate the Guiding Light remotes done there with Alan and Rita and a bunch of other characters, including Kelly and … Kirsten Vigard? Those were the days when soaps had big dough and GL did REAL remotes. And they served us really big, fruit filled rum drinks … and all of a sudden there they were the stars of GL — the late Chris Bernau, the original Alan Spaulding, one of the most powerful soap stars ever, and Lenore Kasdorf (Ed’s wife Rita, with whom Alan started an affair under a Jamaica waterfall) … and many others, including John Wesley Shipp (Kelly), the only “hunk” I ever met who turned out to be a really nice, normal guy. It was the first time I saw stars up close, and it was a great party! What an expensive party it was! First class, all the way!

    It was fun but itimidating to be a young professional soap reporter back then and it was at that party that I watched GL for the first time. And it led to many wonderful years of covering the show, and interviewing its stars, writers and producers. All of them, from press reps at CBS to the P&G people, were always so, so classy. It just breaks my heart to see what this once gem of a soap is like now, filming in the back yards of New Jersey and that it has to go begging for its life.

  6. esther says:

    It’s been done.

    Jonathan — well said. Marlena too. I’m so depressed, I don’t even know what to say.

  7. David says:

    I am in shock! I know I should be prepared for this but I am not. I don’t even know what to say……. My heart is broken.

    Marlena says: David my dear friend, I know how much GL meant to you. Again, what a tragedy this is for all of us who loved the show.

  8. David C says:

    I tried to remain a fan of the show but it was like watching a once proud strong friend die a hideous death.

    I fell head over heals with the show when my parents finally got cable in the spring of 1981. In central Canada, without cable, you only got the shows the two national networks showed if you lived too far from the US border to catch stations over the air. Well as I’ve said here a few times, my first love was The Edge of Night and I held it in high regard right to the end. That spring of ’81 I was able to sample all of the “new to me” US soaps and without debate, Doug Marland’s Guiding Light and All My Children were hands down the winners.

    A few years later I was able to meet Lisa Brown after seeing her in 42nd St. on Broadway. Wow. So I stuck with Guiding Light pretty steadily until the late 90s and the Brown Esensten stuff. I stuck with it through clone Reva, Amish Reva, Reva and Josh through that bloody painting story and on and on. But I kept giving it a try. The final nail in the coffin for me was the new production style beginnng last year. It looked and sounded amateurish and cheap and it was offensive it was doing to me and millons of other fans.

    Now, the show has been allowed to die a good death. But is that death the beginning of the end of the US daytime soap genre as we know it? Too much grief to deal with (soap grief, not literal grief) right now but I fear, Guiding Light might have inadvertently opened the door to something new and not in the way we want it to be. That new open door might simply be opening up to a dead end.

  9. Levi says:

    Marlena, if this does happen and they cannot find a replacement for GL, it is like a death. I know it is a television show, but to me it has become a dialy ritual and a connection to these wonderful characters. I have enjoyed watching this show since 1996. I wasn’t even a teenager yet and I became embroiled in the Josh Annie Reva triangle.

    Now GL has not been perfect, but no soap has. In fact, when Phillip returned GL was catching up in the ratings a tad. I am so sad to hear this. I will admit I teared up hearing the news. I heard it from a friend of mine and I was just in total denial about it till I got on your website. I was praying the first image was not going to be this, but it was.

    I hope someone can save it. The Directv deal on Passions didn’t last, but maybe Directv or someone can save this outstanding show.

    I couldn’t imagine seeing a day without Reva Shayne or Alan Spaulding on my tv screen. You know I have wrote so much on GL on these forums. I hope and I keep my fingers crossed that someone—anyone—can do something.

    This was a show me and my grandmother talked about on the phone and even watched together. Even on her deathbed, we would still talk about our favorite soap. GL has the family connection where family members can share in these moments of a great soap opera.

    This a major blow to daytime and has shook my confidence to see more than maybe 3 soaps staying on in the next 5 yrs.

    Marlena says: I feel your pain, Levi. So many of us associate Guiding Light with family! I wish you could have seen earlier days of Guiding Light, the 80s with the first Alan Spaulding (Chris Bernau) and the early Four Musketeers. Thank goodness for YouTube! Researching GL’s earlier days might make you feel a little better. Hang in there, dear.

  10. Giada says:

    I started watching soaps in the early 80s. My description of what they should be in my opinion was not referred to the soaps, was referred to the ads. As far as I know, they never did ads like that.

  11. Pat May says:

    Gee, it is hard to imagine everyday without the Light. My Mom passed away 7 mos. ago, the first thing I almost did yesterday when I heard the news was call her. She had watched it for years and myself I have watched it for 45 yrs. I was so glad it recently has become so very interesting. I can hardly wait till the next episode. We seniors have supported the soaps for such a long time. What a shame, now that we especially have our moments to enjoy them, they are being taken away because someone says this one or that one is not on top at the moment. Which one will it be next. Only a few months, another one will be cut off. Shame on Big Brother or whoever takes this away from us. Maybe some day when they are older they will be forced to watch nothing but fussing on judge shows, or talk shows where everyone talks at once, and no one knows what they are talking about anyway. Enough seriousness, let us soap opera fans have a little fantasy in our lives. Maybe some oldie like Ted Turner will see that it is picked up by cable. Boy, would he be on top of my list. Well, enough said, I think you see how I feel, and I am sure I speak for so many others. Thank You for listening, PM

    Marlena says: Thank you, Pat, for your valuable words. Not everyone who watches soaps is between 20 and 35! Older is beautiful, and we’ve been watching these shows for decades! They belong to us! If only the TV execs would realize who has the real buying power in this country — and the cultured, mature outlook! Go Pat!

  12. renee says:

    Marlena,
    I could not and would not have written an email to save GL. GL is no different than the businesses we see around us right now. They are going under, and sadly, they, like many of the businesses, deserve the fate.

    I’m fighting to get some integrity back into this society. For people to give a crap about what they produce, how they produce, and to do the best at producing it. This week I felt I was in a losing battle when someone at the Girl Scouts, yes, the Girl Scouts, told me to find out if I could get Girl Scout cookies I should call my local chapter. Why did I have a problem with that? On their web site you can type in your zip code and it tells you if the local chapter is selling cookies. I’d already done that and my local chapter wasn’t. When I explained that to the person she said, ‘her job was only to tell me to contact the local chapter.’ I told her the integrity in doing her job was to have called the local chapter and found out if they had any extra cookies and if they didn’t to find out if I could have gotten cookies elsewhere. That would have been her job. Caring to do the very best you can.

    GL stopped doing that a while ago. The GL I would save ended a long while ago when management was different. Joh was right, it hurts the whole industry, but too much of the industry is checking out. I’d rather have a few good/great soaps, and some great memories, than what’s left to keep on sucking.

    I’d rather have some businesses get some tough love and learn some hard lessons and get some vision than to keep rewarding disrespect for my dollar.

    Sorry. Sorry for those affected. But take those gifts you have and give it back to the world, somehow. Someway. I became a much happier person when I figured out that gem. And I don’t know if my business is going to work but since health has forced me to quit work, I’m not going to wring my hands crying about the recession until I don’t have a pot to pee in. Mama didn’t raise me that way. She said as long as there is a letter to type, a hash to be slung, a toilet to be cleaned, and a Plan B to figure out, you better keep going girl. I don’t care what degrees you attain, if you want to eat.

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