Grief Counseling from the Soap Shrink: How To Cope When the Light Goes Out

Thinking Fans mourn:  Matthew J. Cormier says, “I can’t even begin to know how Guiding Light fans are dealing with the loss right now. I was such a wreck when Loving, The City and Port Charles were cancelled and they didn’t run nearly as long as Guiding Light” … while Blake reflects, “It’s really going to hit me some time, but right now I just feel sad every time I see an article about GL being cancelled” … and more. See Comments below. 

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Guiding LightBy Damon L. Jacobs

Fans of CBS’ Guiding Light, as well any one who cares about the future of the daytime soap opera genre, have had reason to grieve this past week.  Even if the cancellation wasn’t a complete shock, it was nevertheless a cruel jolt to lose this beloved institution, and it deserves to be mourned as such.  My “cyber step brother” Patrick Erwin is eloquently sharing his emotional journey of coping by using Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages Of Grief at A Thousand Other Worlds . It is my hope that as a community we can work through this tragic death together and help each other reach and stay at the “acceptance” phase.  Here are some tools that can help:

1.  Allow yourself to feel whatever feelings come up around GL‘s cancellation.  You may feel angry, disappointed, exasperated, depressed, maybe [Read more...]

Guiding Light Cancelled! After 72 Years Does It Have to Stay Dead?

Thinking Fans share their grief: Skylar laments, ”I want to call my great grandmother and tell her the news, as I’m sure she doesn’t know. But I really don’t want to be the one to deliver the news: a friend of 72 years is set to disappear forever”  … while BL says, “I’m glad for all the people I’ve met and become pals with over the years due to our shared interest in Guiding Light. The show coming to a close won’t change that or erase all the memories” … and more. See Comments below.

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It’s official: CBS has cancelled Guiding Light, the New York Post reports, though TV Week says Procter & Gamble will seek a new home for the show. How profound is the loss of Guiding Light to American television? Here’s a powerful guest column by our friend, longtime TV trade reporter Ed Martin of JackMyers.com, aimed at top network television programmers, who might not have a full knowledge of what Guiding Light really means to the American audience. Look for Marlena’s commentary here soon. 

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Guiding Light logoBy Ed Martin

CBS made history today in a bad way. It cancelled Procter & Gamble Productions’ classic soap opera Guiding Light, the longest running scripted franchise in the history of modern media!

I have during the last ten years written many times about Guiding Light for Myers Reports and other publications, and whenever possible I have used those platforms to remind executives at CBS and P&G that GL isn’t simply another soap opera — it’s an American institution and a national treasure at that. Everyone reading this column has a relative, living or deceased, who either listened to GL during its run on radio (beginning in 1937) or watched it since it transitioned to television in 1952. Some of our parents can actually say that they first enjoyed this show on radio with their parents and still follow it on TV.

It isn’t sufficient to refer to this achievement as rare. This is a success story unparalleled in the history of modern media. Think about this: With few exceptions (most notoriously  the marathon daily news coverage of the O.J. Simpson

With all due respect to the fine folks at Nielsen, daytime audience measurement is, at its very best, irrefutably flawed.  The very idea that viewership for soap operas would decline in direct proportion to the ever-expanding increase in viewing options is utter bullshit.

double-murder trial), Guiding Light has been in continuous daily production through eight decades! The durability of this franchise makes it way too significant to fall victim to the current recession, when desperate [Read more...]

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.”

On the Soap Shrink’s Couch: Newly Bereaved Father Buzz Cooper on Guiding Light

By Damon L. Jacobs

Losing someone you love is one of the hardest experiences you will ever have to go through.  If you have ever cared about someone who has died, then you know the palpable heartache that brings pain throughout your entire body.  But if you have ever lost a child, then you will understand the overwhelming anguish and paralyzing rage that has overtaken Buzz Cooper these days on Guiding Light.  

Sadly enough, Buzz (played by Justin Deas) is no stranger to death’s cruel grip.  As a Vietnam Veteran he survived countless acts of gore and violence.  Upon returning home, he married his high school sweetheart Nadine who was brutally murdered by Brent Lawrence.  Only three years later, his second wife Jenna died [Read more...]

Soap February: Blame Executive Malfeasance!

Thinking Fans Comment Update: BL avers, “I have to say the line (on AMC) about how lesbians don’t kiss men was perfect, because why would they?” … Carl posits, “GL has been so much about nasty thugs over the past few years, Phillip’s return is a way to bring a more heroic character back into the spotlight” … while Melanie warns that GH “is on Maxie Overload and needs to quit before there’s a serious Maxie backlash (hello Sonny!)”  … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Fans usually blame headwriters when soaps are bad.  But ultimately, the real blame lies with daytime network executives who have the final power of approval over what we see on our screens.  Last month, judging by the very questionable, sometimes downright All My Childrenillogical and nonprofessional quality of the drama I saw on screen, I’d venture to say that these daytime execs (and their publicity and marketing minions) are very sloppy, asleep at the wheel, or just don’t care at all what they put on screen everyday.

She who gets smooched on All My Children

Why present a heavily publicized lesbian wedding if the whole plot leading up to it is going to greatly anger lesbian viewers?  In an earlier column on All My Children‘s headwriter Charles Pratt, I naively got excited over the acting possibilities of a Bianca-Reese-Zack love triangle. I received dozens of letters from female fans who said they didn’t want either gay character to get involved with a man.  D’Oh!  Of course they don’t!

So why did AMC, which knew this already (as proven by having Bianca angrily tell Reese when Bianca broke up the one day marriage that [Read more...]

Guiding Light’s Olivia and Natalia, Part 2: The Kiss and Beyond

Thinking Fans Comment Update: Cate points out All My Children’s gay storyline initially caused a furor that later died down as viewers “warmed up to the character” … adds Blake, “I hope GL does not get my hopes up about this great couple only to break them up” … and more. See Comments below.

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Guiding Light’s “Otalia” pairing — Olivia and Natalia — are garnering a lot of buzz. Soap fans, as well as sites like the lesbian entertainment-themed AfterEllen.com, are watching to see if that friendship potentially becomes something more. This week, the story takes a step in that direction when Olivia and Natalia kiss.

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OliviaBy Patrick Erwin 

Regarding: The Kiss,  it looks like Guiding Light is testing the waters. To me, the upcoming scenes — done in a clever way that lets the show “have it both ways”, so to speak — scream “test run” with the future direction of the story depending on the audience’s reaction.

Personally, I’m torn about the story. On the one hand, I want there to be visible LGBT characters on our screens and it Nataliawould be great for GL to tackle that sort of story, since it has not done so to date. I appreciate that GL is really taking a risk and embracing a really progressive, emotional topic.

My minor concerns about this story come from the fact that we haven’t seen ANY suggestion of ambiguous sexual orientation from either character.

Many of the gay and lesbian storylines on daytime that we’ve seen thus far have worked because the characters were young characters and we saw their coming-out process. All My Children‘s Bianca is a great example of that. And a late-in-life coming out [Read more...]

Guiding Light’s Olivia and Natalia: Women in Love? — Part 1: Why They Have GL’s Best Friendship

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  Dayna says Otalia is “a modern romance told with beautiful soapy writing” … Levi says Guiding Light is getting better, and “I am finally happy to tune in every day” … and more. See Comments below. 

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The friendship between Guiding Light’s Olivia (Crystal Chappell) and Natalia (Jessica Leccia), two women who live together with Olivia’s young daughter, Emma, is generating a lot of favorable buzz among fans online. Viewers are responding positively to the duo’s friendship — and are talking about those rumors that these two are more than just friends. Our own Patrick Erwin takes a closer look at this story in this two part series. Today, he talks about what’s making this a hit. On Monday, he’ll address the possibility that the characters may be more than just friends.

______________________________Crystal Chappell

By Patrick Erwin

The most engaging story for me on Guiding Light right now is the crisscrossed lives of Natalia and Olivia. GL‘s latest production model (overall storyline design) is to showcase a more “realistic” view of Springfield. The “Otalia” story is one of the first stories GL has done that really gets the mixture of realism and drama right. Here are the reasons why I think this story is hitting all the right notes:

Realism: It’s a great story about two people becoming family to each other — three, of course, if you count Olivia’s daughter Emma (played wonderfully by young Jacqueline Tsirkin). Only love can save the world, indeed! These days, friendships [Read more...]

Marlena’s “Only the Bests” List 2008

New Year'sEve clip art

Thinking Fans’ picks and pans for 2008: Cherry Ames pans Todd/Marty as “the foulest story ever” … DSO816 picks the Angie/Jesse reunion … while Marlene agrees GHNS2 set the bar higher for all soaps … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Last year I decided I will no longer do “Best” and “Worst” lists for soaps.  After all, there have been so many “worsts” this year (real life deaths, superstar firings, General Hospital limosex and other tasteless storylines, wasted returns of some soap veterans), why would I want to re-inflict the pain on you?

 So, darlings, here are my “bests.”

General Hospial Night Shift 2 — As I wrote last fall,”If they could bottle this show, they could save soap opera.”  This 2008 soap dared to remember that soap opera is supposed to be about love, compassion, close friendships and the importance [Read more...]

He’s Back: Paul Rauch for Real!

Y&R

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 20:  Christian in Boston loved Rauch’s OLTL except for the lighting (bring sunglasses!) … James expresses respect … but Cherry Ames lists Rauch’s soap sins, chapter and verse … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Paul Rauch. That name may send you screaming from the room if you ever worked for him unsuccessfully, if you judge a man in totality by his bad soaps (Santa Barbara, Guiding Light) or if you are a typical internet poster who relies on rumors, innuendo and chapters of  tell-all memoirs.

But now that Rauch is back as co-executive producer of The Young and the Restless (at the age of 74, after recovering from a heart attack) I’d like to offer some first person testimony. And I can do it freely and ethically because I am a journalist, and don’t have to work  for him.  I knew and interviewed Rauch regularly from 1980-2001

I’ve always maintained that despite his stormy temperament and the people he is said to have hurt, Paul is a genius.

when he was in New York executive-producing Another World, TexasOne Life to Live and Guiding Light.  Like everyone, I had terrible, terrible times with him (I have stories — let’s just say [Read more...]

From Bad to Good or Good To Bad: Seven Soap Characters Who Changed Before Our Eyes

Melissa Claire Egan

Thinking Fans Comment Update Sept. 9:  Sina nominates Maxie Jones … Greg would include Vanessa Chamberlain …  Aaron misses Annie Dutton … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Patrick Erwin

It’s been interesting to watch recent scenes with Melissa Claire Egan as Annie on All My Children. Once a good girl, Annie has turned into a manipulative witch. She may not be a nice person anymore, but Annie no longer comes off as a Greenlee-wannabe and is far more interesting to watch.
 
Most soap characters serve a purpose and stay in their designated slot: heroine, villain, rouge, or temptress. But every once in a while, a character will undergo a major metamorphosis and make a dramatic change, redeeming their wicked ways or shedding their goodness to get in touch with their inner bad seed.

Here are seven examples of characters who radically changed in front of our eyes.
 
1.  Annie Dutton, Guiding Light: Speaking of Annies, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this one. When she was [Read more...]