Last week dealt a crushing blow to millions of soap opera fans. The cancellation of Guiding Light, a soap opera that's been around longer than broadcast television, wasn't just devastating to fans of the 72-year-old program. No, fans of all soap operas were faced with their own favorite soap's mortality.
The stars of Guiding Light and others in the soap industry are starting to comment on Guiding Light's cancellation.
"The [ratings] numbers are really tough for all of these old dramas. I don't think any of the other shows want any of us to go off. We're all in this together," said Ron Raines (Alan Spaulding) "What is it? 72 years continuous? That will never be touched. It's a very sad thing, but these are the times we live in. It's very tough out there."
"28 years ago, I signed a three-year contract," Robert Newman (Josh Lewis) said. "I could not have known then how this day would feel. I am grateful to have had the work, yes, but what I will moss most are the people I have known and grown to love over the years."
"I am extremely grateful to CBS for having us on air for that long, but you don't cancel a show when it's on fire and great and everything is working," countered Frank Dicopoulos (Frank Cooper). "I just don't get it."
"We were never curing cancer, but I think in some small way, we probably helped a few people make their way through some dark days by providing a much-needed laugh or a good, hard cry," Grant Aleksander (Phillip Spaulding) added.
"Guiding Light is 72 years in production. It's gotten to the point where there's always rumors that are circulating around the show. It just caught everyone by surprise," Daniel Cosgrove (Bill Lewis) told TVGuide, with co-star Marcy Rylan (Lizzie Spaulding) adding that they'd thought someone in the cast had died when they saw the faces of the show's execs. "I think we all thought that at least we'd be on for another year."
"It's definitely very, very sad to see such a major part of the television landscape go away," Alison Sweeney told Soap Central.
"It was to be expected that Guiding Light would probably not make it. However, news of its cancellation was still a shock, more so because these are uncertain days for all the daytime soap opera[s] and the passing of any one of them makes you think about time running out for the remainder," wrote Tristan Rogers (Robert Scorpio, General Hospital) on his personal blog. "I can remember writing about a year ago, in an upbeat and enthusiastic way about the 'new deal' that was about to emerge from GL, and perhaps herald this as a 'break out' show. There was the introduction of a digital look, location shooting and a different 'way' of telling the story. Coming from a show that was one of the original pillars of the genre, this sounded like GL was making serious efforts to 're-invent' itself. At the time I found this very exciting. What went wrong? Well, somewhere along the line someone forgot that all these new and exciting elements needed to be made into... a show. And from what I saw, that never happened. [...] It felt more that 'the new technology was at odds with the shows tradition and history.' [...] Guiding Light was the show that had literally written 'the book' for soaps. GL had been ground breaking in its contribution to this genre and the thought that it will not be around simply lends credence to the notion that, 'nothing lasts forever.' When all of the columns have been written and the retrospectives run their course GL will take its place on a shelf along with the other cancelled soaps and await the time when 'other' shows will join it.
"When CBS announced the cancellation of Guiding Light, no one thought it was an April Fool’s joke despite the cruel irony of the timing," said Sally Sussman Morina, creator of the former NBC soap, Generations. "Rumors of the show’s demise have dogged it for years and finally, CBS pulled the plug and put the show out of its misery. Guiding Light will now join the ranks of other venerable institutions that have fallen by the wayside lately; the big city newspaper and the U.S. auto industry. But despite the setbacks and financial problems, these institutions share a unique place in the fabric of American life and are not replaceable.
“Guiding Light has a very special place in my heart. I began my career in daytime there as a production assistant and later returned as executive producer. It was a privilege (both times) to be a part of such a fabulous group of people who did such outstanding work," said General Hospital executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps. "Some of the most talented actors, writers and directors have walked through the doors of Guiding Light. The industry will mourn the loss of this beloved show, but Guiding Light leaves a rich legacy for all of us in daytime to treasure. I wish all my dear friends a gentle landing.”
Meanwhile, comments made by one soap's executive producer have unsettled Guiding Light fans. Click here to find out why.