July 30, 2009By Marc Wilkofsky Posted: Jul 30, 2009
Now that TeleNext has confirmed that GUIDING LIGHT's television era will definitely end on September 18, I have a few comments to make on my favorite TV series of all time. A lot of people hold to the tenet that it's just a show, and that's understandable, but to me, it's much more than that. GL has inspired me in many ways.
Before I explain that, I should note that GL is not the only daytime soap whose plots, characters and actors markedly affected my life. YOUNG AND RESTLESS, amid decades of captivating stories, entertained me with its occasional concerts featuring Danny, Lauren (yes, Lauren sang, and quite well), Traci and their friends, and helped to inspire me to write songs. I still remember Danny first speaking with his friend Paul about his interest in music in the early 1980s. Before he knew it, Danny was a music superstar, and his portrayer, Michael Damian, had a No. 1 hit, "Rock On," in 1989, and successfully hit Broadway as the titular star of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. ONE LIFE TO LIVE's live week in 2002 was a major feat of hard work and professional courage, along with outside-the-box creativity (the type I like). I recall brilliant performances like Kassie DePaiva (ex-Chelsea, GL) as an anguished Blair blasting Todd for lying about little Jack, fun moments like Viki/Niki singing "I Will Survive" on a couch and risky production moves like Kamar de los Reyes, as Antonio, jogging (make that bolting) from Central Park to the show's studio for a diner scene. Recently, I was inspired by Spinelli, a character who has grown on me and many GENERAL HOSPITAL viewers, showing his karaoke prowess with "I Want to Know What Love Is." Who knew in 2006 that the shy, computer-fixated guy with the goofy hat would become such a likable, multifaceted character?
But it was GL that taught me, in large part, my writing skills, especially in the juggling and mixing of several disparate storylines and the often powerful dialogue. I'll mention my favorite stories in a future blog entry, but I felt 1987-'89's Josh/Reva/Sonni/Will epic was brilliantly written. Through its generally selfless characters (from Bert, Ed, Frank and Gilly in the 1980s and '90s to Matt, Blake and Natalia today), GL inspired me to be a kind person, because that's how I feel you're supposed to be. (Trust me, I'm also somewhat cynical, because that's how a New York City resident is "supposed" to be.) Plus, on yet another personal note — hey, blogs are inherently personal — watching life at the Springfield Journal showed me that the journalism world can be fun. In addition to speaking with dozens of gracious GL actors for Weekly over the years, I'm always pleased to speak with viewers who care about the show.
Two of those viewers have been my parents. Having watched GL with them for years (while I was in school and he was at work, my dad would tape it so that we could watch and chat about it with my mom at night), and after talking with some viewers and recently, a few GL actors, I've realized there's another reason why people are upset about losing their show. Because GL has aired five days a week for decades, even if people have good relationships with their family and other loved ones, many have seen these characters more often than they have their own family members (like siblings, aunts and uncles; even their parents). So when longtime GL viewers describe the soap's characters as "like family," they mean it.
Thank you for your replies to my questions regarding how you found out about GL's CBS era ending and how you'd like to see the LIGHT go out (my hopes were in my July 6 entry, and you can reach me at GLeditor@soapoperaweekly.com). Here are a couple of readers' letters I have received, which both mention family members.
I found out when I logged onto the Internet, and it was a news item. My husband thought someone had died because of my reaction. He thought I was being silly about being sad, but he's really happy now that I have one less soap to watch (I also watch ATWT). I probably won't watch what they put in its place. I just hope it ends happily and not with Phillip dying.
Hopefully, your husband will at least watch the final GL episode with you, Virginia, and who knows? Maybe you can even pull him into Oakdale.
I received the terrible news from my daughter. She had seen promos for Entertainment Tonight Canada. As for your blog, it's wonderful as always, but I'll go one step further, if you don't mind. I would like a huge party at the lighthouse, and have it shining bright, and letting all of us know that the LIGHT will always be lit. ALWAYS.
Lea Donaldson, via e-mail
Great idea, Lea. Here's hoping we'll see the lighthouse again at least once.