August 21, 2009By Marc Wilkofsky Posted: Aug 21, 2009
"Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?"
— Joni Mitchell, "Big Yellow Taxi"
As GUIDING LIGHT's final month, after more than seven decades, continues, I have a message to viewers of the seven remaining daytime soaps: Do not wish for your show to be canceled (which I've read that some people might be doing). Yes, there is more excitement, publicity and discussion surrounding GL than the show has seen in years, and the writing and acting have been fantastic, but trust me — you don't want your soap to have to speed up plotlines in a roller-coaster ride of happy wrap-ups and depressing drama. GL throwing everything it can — including, literally, the kitchen sink (Josh kindly fixed Reva's broken one) — into its last days has met with considerable success, especially the parallel of the dying Phillip living life to the fullest...but it's all going away way too fast.
That was clarified by August 19's amazing "Good-bye to Guiding Light, 72 Years Young" event at Manhattan's Paley Center for Media, which featured several GL stars, including Kim Zimmer, Grant Aleksander, Michael O'Leary, Elizabeth Keifer and Bradley Cole (Reva, Phillip, Rick, Blake and Jeffrey), writer Jill Lorie Hurst and executive producer Ellen Wheeler, all of whom spoke beautifully and honestly about their show during the panel. Comparing his 10 years on GL to the runs of many of his co-stars, Cole stated, "I'm still like the new kid on the block." Zimmer recalled, "They had money to burn in the '80s! We had big earrings and big shoulder pads," to which Aleksander added, "And then there were the ladies!" O'Leary, aside from mentioning the many women who have rejected Rick, beamed, "We did the multigenerational [aspect] better than anyone," and of her debut in 1992, Keifer said, "I have a fond memory of being petrified by Maeve Kinkead," having admired Vanessa's portrayer. Along with a heartwarming video presentation of GL's past and future, there was a Q&A session with the audience that became something of a lively town hall meeting, in which audience member Frank Dicopoulos (Frank) stood up and gave a moving speech. He opined that one reason soaps are popular is "You want to see how people handle problems," and then proudly noted that because Harley and her brother Frank decided to keep and have her and Dylan's baby, "There are people walking around named Daisy." Check out my future blog entries for more on the bittersweet event that said a touching "so long" to GL.
If you watch another soap, be glad you'll still have your hour, or half-hour, of escapist fun and surprises every weekday, and tell your friends why it's wonderful (or write Weekly about why it's not). Spread the word, and help to keep your show from being replaced far, far before its time.
On that note, let's make a deal, my fellow LIGHT-lovers. Keep watching GL, tell people it rocks, and then, after it reaches its Sept. 18 end, turn on a soap that's brand-new to you, and if you like it, please become a regular viewer and tell people why that one is fun. Hold onto the shows you have while you have them. Because I have a concern about GL's replacement, LET'S MAKE A DEAL, which is ironically a game show about replacing something you know is good with something unknown that could be a winner (or not). If LMAD is extremely successful, justifying the switch to a game show, what does that mean for the future of CBS' other soaps (especially a particular one produced in New York)?
I find game shows to be highly entertaining, and Wayne Brady is a lively and hilarious host (on Fox's DON'T FORGET THE LYRICS!, he does a fine job), but let me just say I will likely not be watching the 2003 Daytime Emmys host's LMAD debut in October. However, I will proudly and gratefully continue to watch CBS' three excellent remaining soaps. On that note, cue the "dream sequence."
SECRET SHOW HOST: Welcome to the final round of LET'S MAKE A DAYTIME DEAL! Each of our three finalists, who all happen to be longtime GUIDING LIGHT viewers, can now turn in their show for a brand-new one. Contestant #1, that's a beautiful lighthouse costume. Which door would you like: 1, 2 or 3?
CONTESTANT #1: I'll take door no. 2!
SSH: You've got…THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL! Our announcer's on vacation in Chicago, so I'll tell you all about it. If you love humor and passion mixed with unpredictable storylines that move fast, this is the show for you. As you can see in that cougar print-covered bed, the best (and hottest) romance right now is Owen/Jackie, but keep your eyes on the softly smoking Bill/Katie pairing. The Forresters' fight with Jackie M for fashion industry dominance could delight GL viewers nostalgic for the Spaulding vs. Lewis business battles. And you might recognize the actor playing Whip, Rick Hearst…formerly Alan-Michael from your show. This is one of the easiest soaps to get into, partly because each episode is just half an hour. Congratulations!
CONTESTANT #1: Thanks so much! I'll be watching.
SSH: Contestant #2, I love your gaudy but gorgeous Nadine Cooper wig, and kudos to your husband on his cool Lujack outfit. Your door choice is...?
CONTESTANT #2: No. 3, please.
SSH: And behind that door, we have…AS THE WORLD TURNS! There are many reasons this classic has aired for more than 53 years, and several characters and storylines should grab you. Those of you who miss GL's Maureen might like to know her original portrayer, Ellen Dolan, is now playing ATWT's Margo, and is in an engrossing storyline involving her son, Adam. The revamped, post-amnesia Paul is intriguing (and his romance with Emily, increasingly enchanting), and viewers who will miss jokester Rick should be wild about hysterical Henry. If you like GL's Otalia story, check out Noah and Luke's connection, which comes with occasional kisses. That leaves you, contestant #3 in the ravishing, Reva-like red dress, with the grand prize…THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS!
CONTESTANT #3: Whoo!
SSH: Y&R is a tremendous display of dependable quality that has not only survived many of the industry's ups and downs, but has revitalized and revolutionized the daytime genre (just like GL). Every well-written, powerfully produced episode proves why this soap has been so popular. Although GL has daytime's finest acting ensemble, Y&R's cast works together in consistently wonderful ways, bringing out the drama and emotions of each scene. The long-running triangle of Phyllis/Nick/Sharon features regular twists that keep viewers guessing, and the dysfunctional Abbott family should pull in fans of the Spauldings. You can expect laughs, surprises and affecting drama from Kevin, Michael, Gloria and the rest of the Fisher family. Plus, John Driscoll (GL's former Coop) has been livening up Genoa City as good guy Chance, Adam is one uncommonly nefarious villain, and there's a heaping helping of romance. Just like a mug of Crimson Lights coffee, an hour of Y&R should pick you up.
CONTESTANT #3: Thanks so much! I'll truly miss GL, but I think I'm going to be fine.
SSH: I believe you will! You all now have strong replacements for GL, and any hour now, someone else is trying out one of these CBS shows for the first time. And that's it for LET'S MAKE A DAYTIME DEAL, brought to you by our sponsor: Soap Opera Weekly. Remember, soaps may change, but Weekly's always watching. I've been your host, Marc Wilkofsky. Have a good afternoon!