On April 1, 2009, CBS announced that Guiding Light would air its final episode on September 18, thereby ending television's longest-running scripted series after an amazing 72-year run. For fans, the slow countdown to the series' demise has been painful. Behind-the-scenes, the cast and crew of Guiding Light have been out of work for about a month now, and they've had more time to contemplate a post-GL world.
"It's great. I feel like it's the next chapter," Zimmer states. "For me, personally, I was ready. I was ready for a change. I would probably never have been able to be the one to make the decision to leave. So they made my decision a whole lot easier for me."
Known for her outspokenness, Zimmer explains that her last year on Guiding Light had not been the enjoyable time that she'd been used to in the past. The actress says that she believes the long-running show's decision in 2008 to ditch its tried-and-true production model for one that cut costs was its undoing.
"I think a part of me feels that Guiding Light had run its course," Zimmer reflects. "They were trying to do everything so cheaply, and it just changed the whole dynamic of the show. You couldn't do those big stories anymore. It didn't facilitate it anymore when the camera was right in your face."
Though Guiding Light was praised by industry analysts for slashing its costs and revolutionizing the way an episode of a soap opera was put together, many fans felt "disconnected" from the show because of unusual camera work, repurposed and shrunken sets, and substantial on-location filming. Fans can take heart in knowing that they weren't the only ones feeling the disconnect.
"I've always enjoyed being on the soaps because I felt like I was on stage," Zimmer explains. "The way that we shot with the cameras on pedestals... it gave us an audience. It felt like you were doing theater. I've always said I love doing soaps because it was the closest thing to live theater that I could find myself doing."
Zimmer says that she knows some Guiding Light fans might not understand her attitude regarding the show's cancellation. She does, however, understand the fans' pain and wants them to know that she is grateful for their years of support. She also urges them not to turn their backs on the seven remaining daytime drama series.
"The fans need to stay true to these shows because we're going to keep losing them if they don't keep watching them," Zimmer explains. "And they need to let everybody know that they actually do watch the commercials so that the advertisers don't pull out. I guess it's cyclical. Now it seems we're going to have an influx of game shows again. It's what happens. Fans are sick of the talk shows. They're sick of the judge shows. Although, I've never been a fan of judge shows. Every time I turn on the television, there seems to be another phony ass judge telling people what to do!"
From a business perspective, Zimmer is also reeling.
"I hate the idea that so many people are out of work and that we're losing another soap in New York -- and now with All My Children moving, I hate that too. It's not good for the business in New York." Zimmer sighs.
Zimmer is keeping herself busy since the last tape day at Guiding Light. In addition to considering a movie of the week project, and apartment hunting with her son, she's been quietly working on another non-acting project.
"I'm trying to write a book... and I'm trying to get it together for a Christmas release, but that's not gonna happen. I think it's more about my perching my feelings on paper right now, and I'm just writing like crazy," Zimmer reveals. "I don't have a format. I don't know how I'm putting it together. I don't have a theme. I had someone ask me if I had an editor because they said, 'You need to have deadlines and that's the only way you're going to get it done. Otherwise, you'll end up with a 900-page book and it will be boring!'"
It seems unlikely that anything Zimmer could come up with would be boring. Zimmer doesn't keep a journal, but she's finding that her recollections and those of fans are helping her with her writing.
"I'm having fun putting my feelings down... I wanted it to be about the morning of April 1, 2009, through September 18. I wanted it to be a journey through that and have little things trigger memories. Between what I remember and what I am getting from fans since the show was canceled, I'm being reminded of a lot of different stuff."
As for another role in daytime, Zimmer shared a plane ride to Los Angeles with One Life to Live's executive producer, Frank Valentini. Zimmer says that she pitched him an idea about joining the show, where she played Bonnie Harmon in 1978 and Echo DiSavoy in 1983. Whether or not Zimmer shows up in Llanview again remains to be seen.