In an unprecedented move for the daytime television industry, Procter & Gamble Productions has taken steps to slash its production budget for its two daytime drama series, As the World Turns
and Guiding Light
. Both programs air on CBS.
In a company-wide meeting held on May 6th, it was announced that some major changes would be taking place within the Guiding Light organization in the months ahead. The changes involve a new studio space for the show as well as "across the board" pay cuts to the show's on-screen talent.
When asked for details of the proposed changes, a spokesperson for Guiding Light replied, "We do not comment on actor contracts or budgets. [However,] there is a plan to move to the CBS studios in the new broadcast year."
The move would take Guiding Light from its studios on the East Side of Manhattan to much less lavish digs at the CBS studios on the West Side of the city. The "new" studio is actually the former home of As the World Turns. As the World Turns currently tapes in a studio in Brooklyn, where the long-since-cancelled P&G-produced soap Another World
had been filmed.
Due to union regulations, the entire
Guiding Light behind-the-scenes crew may find themselves without jobs as a result of the move. Inquiries to CBS asking for an explanation about union policies went unanswered.
Meanwhile, the show's performers have been asked to take a 15-percent pay cut. The slash in pay is being done across the board and will affect all
on-screen talent. According to one source familiar with the decision to cut the actors' salaries, the across-the-board pay cuts ensure that all performers are treated evenhandedly. In short, the show's top stars are not being given preferential treatment and the show will reportedly not have to fire actors that are making the most money in an attempt to save money.
However, it would appear that not all of the show's stars are okay with the pay cuts. Guiding Light superstar Kim Zimmer
) may be the first casualty of the budget cuts. [Click here
to read the related story on Zimmer's contract troubles.]
The average soap star makes somewhere in the range of $450,000 to $650,000. To give a little perspective about how much each performer would be asked to sacrifice in the budget cuts, a performer making $550,000 would be asked to accept a pay cut of $82,500 - or a new salary of $467,500.
The cuts are seen as a necessity to keep Guiding Light, the longest-running serial in television history, on the air. Guiding Light has seen its average ratings dip to frightening lows and advertising revenue has been shrinking as a result.
In positive news for the soap, CBS recently renewed both Guiding Light and As the World Turns through the 2006-2007 season.