Is it really lights out for Guiding Light? A year after making radical changes to keep the show afloat comes a report by an industry publication saying that CBS has almost certainly decided to put an end to daytime's longest-running soap opera. Fans of Guiding Light and the show's production team have been stunned by the news, since it appeared the show would be renewed for at least another year.
Fans of television's longest-running scripted television series are in a state of panic. According to a published report, CBS is quietly planning for the end of Guiding Light - which could come as early as September.
Industry publication TV Week
is reporting that, while no definitive decision has been made, "CBS has been talking to outside studios about potential replacement programming for the show" should the lights be turned out on Guiding Light.
The timing of TV Week
's article is particularly curious. During Guiding Light's recent on-location shoot at Universal Studios Orlando, the cast and crew seemed particularly upbeat. While no one would comment officially, one show source told soap
that the show was almost guaranteed another year on the air. In an interview with soapcentral.com
, Kim Zimmer (Reva Shayne) discussed her character's future story and prefaced the discussion with remarks -- "God forbid we should ever go off the air" -- that made it clear that cancellation was the last thing on her mind.
Indeed, CBS retains an option to extend Guiding Light's stay for an additional year. The network renewed the 72-year-old soap last year. At the same time, Guiding Light underwent some dramatic changes to slash its operating budget. Those changes involved more on-location filming, new sets, and a new production model designed to provide a more "realistic" viewing experience. While the changes may have cut the show's costs, it has also led to an even more rapid ratings erosion. In just the past year, Guiding Light's ratings have fallen by about 18% in the number of total viewers tuning in each day.
It should be noted that in the 15 years that soap
has been online, there have been numerous rumors of the show's impending demise. Things this time, however, seem very different. Daytime is a totally different entity than it was 15 years ago - or even five years ago. As the networks are looking for ways to slash their expenses, cost-heavy programming, such as soap operas, is an easy place to start the cuts.
A show spokesperson was unable to comment on the rumors of the show's impending demise. An insider, meanwhile, tells soap
that fans are encouraged to let "the powers that be" at CBS know how important Guiding Light is to them by contacting the network.
A decision on Guiding Light's future is expected to be made within the next month.
Guiding Light debuted as a radio-based soap opera in January 1937. In June 1952, the show began its transition to television. It remains the longest-running scripted entertainment program in television history.
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