Dazed and confused

It’s been almost a month since we first heard the news that Guiding Light was dropped by CBS.

I’m still dazed and confused. This isn’t the five stages of death or anything like that. I’m just not sure what to think about it all, because reports of the patient’s death may be premature.

“Final” isn’t really feeling so final these days.

For one thing, GL is, along with Y&R, the finest hour on the air right now. I mean, at this point I’m actually looking for things to complain about! But I’ve been so entertained by GL, and it keeps getting progressively better. Springfield has a sense of cohesiveness and community that I haven’t seen on ANY soap for years.

Stories are feeding into each other, and even the most throwaway conversations have a purpose and a context, often a historical one. Characters are remembering past events, relationships and battles, instead of living in a vacuum.

I’ve said a thousand words about the magnificent Otalia story, but there’s a lot going on that’s worth watching. The latest rave I have is the introduction of James Spaulding. Zack Conroy looks like his onscreen parents, and he’s added a new energy to the crazy Spaulding family.

And better yet, I think James brings out something in Daisy – and in Bonnie Dennison – that Ellen Wheeler’s seen for years but that hasn’t clicked with the audience. James and Daisy have amazing chemistry, and around James, Daisy becomes an interesting character. Yeah, I know, I’m not in the teen demographic, but the James/Daisy pairing reminds me a bit of the Edward/Bella coupling from Twilight.

Mallet, Marina and Frank have the thankless roles of being the “good” guys (read: boring), but we’ve seen a new side to Frank lately. Frank Dicopoulos’ scenes with Justin Deas, where Frank raged at Buzz about having to wait his turn only for it to never come, was fantastic. And the Henry-is-Shayne’s-son story has a lot of potential to be a magnificent umbrella story. (Wait until Reva learns about her new grandbaby!)

The other lack of finality? Is that Telenext is searching for a new home for GL.

saveguidinglightIt’s been interesting to read soap blogs vs. the soap press. The magazines reported the cancellation without a lot of reporting on the looking-for-a-new-home aspect of things. And perhaps understandably so. In a historical context, that’s not been a very successful effort.

There wasn’t enough time to find Texas or Another World a new home when they were cancelled. Edge of Night lived for nine years after it changed networks; Search for Tomorrow lived for just over three years when it went to NBC. They’ve been there, done that, and don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up. Broadcast TV is an extremely challenging market right now.

But the blogosphere is more optimistic about GL’s chances of landing elsewhere. And rightfully so – it’s a new day, and a new playing field.

Broadcast TV might not have a space for this show, but an engaging, interactive show with a dedicated audience is a perfect fit for a network with a need to connect – and stay connected – to its viewers. Viewers that tune in to GL every day are way more likely to continue to watch other shows that follow it.

For some reason, this juction in the road feels very different. A new network for GL isn’t just a stay of execution for an aging show, or a delay of the inevitable. It’s a new venue where a very vital and vibrant story can live. These new possibilities feel like a new door and a new beginning; a new way for us to watch serialized drama and new platforms for us to do so.

They may look different than what we’re used to – the shape may change, the frequency may change – but if it captures the heart and essence of the fictional universes that we love, we’ll follow them anywhere.

And in case I’ve been subtle thus far, here’s an open plea to Lifetime: PLEASE PICK UP GUIDING LIGHT (and, if it leaves CBS, As The World Turns too)! I’ve seen almost every episode of Will and Grace, Frasier and Reba by now; surely, you can make some space in your schedule for GL. There’s some great advertising and marketing synergies. And you could live up to your motto of “Lifetime Original Programming!”

You can remind these folks that you appreciate GL and would be happy to watch it at a new home (or on the Internet).

Alan Lafley, CEO, Proctor and Gamble
1 P&G Plaza
Cincinnati, OH 45201

Greg Ross
Vice President, Media and Programming
Procter & Gamble
PO Box 599
Cincinnati, Ohio 45201-0599

Brian T. Cahill, Sr. V.P.,
Managing Director for TeleVest Daytime Programs
Procter & Gamble Productions c/o Televest
World Wide Plaza
825 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10019

Procter & Gamble Productions
825 Eighth Avenue 35th Floor
New York, NY 10019

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6 thoughts on “Dazed and confused

  1. The much-copies-on-the-internet letter from Lifetime Network, and the absence of GL from the upfronts, makes me think it is not happening on Lifetime.

    But, over at SON, the message board I frequent, they have been running GL banner ads for days. Someone is paying money to advertise a “dead” show.

    I’ll assume that is Telenext and, in combination with their Another World launch, I do wonder if they’re toying with a modern, internet-based, P&G-controlled distribution system. It’s hard to imagine that will be sustainable…but I’m sure people said that about television 60 years ago too.

  2. The network that picks up GL is definitely going to take a step in the right direction when it comes to creator/viewer interaction and participation. I feel like GL is THE PERFECT vehicle for entering the 21st century when it comes to audiences being counted, all of them, finally.

    I’m a new international viewer (mainly because of the Otalia s/l), and according to all the buzz I’ve been hearing through the digital grapevine. this show overall seems to be at its highs right now (with absolutely no low in sight any time soon!) and it would be a darn shame if that gets lost.

    Now if only the new network could find a lucrative way to let international viewers watch GL too, I believe it would ring in a new era in how we watch scripted programming all together; it’s going to be revolutionary and deservedly so for a show that’s not called the GUIDING LIGHT for nothing!

  3. great aricle patrick! And Mark H, i don’t read anything into the lack of mention in the upfronts. If they are still negotiating they wouldn’t mention it (and would continue to deny via email). Plus, they don’t have to order a pilot for GL since its already in production. At the same time, what I did notice in the upfronts is Lifetime making some strong moves toward more original content (shooting pilots with Sherri Shepherd, Cybill Shepperd, Valerie Bertinelli,etc) and picking up the Project Runway franchaise which is HUGE for them. The GL audience would be a lot of new to lifetime veiwers who would stick around to watch these new programs, army wives and their romance mini-series’.

    Maybe i’m just extremely hopeful.

  4. I don’t read anything into the Upfronts at all. They present content there but their programming is not limited to that content.

  5. Patrick, thanks for a great article on GL. This show is very vibrant now and there is a lot of buzz over it. Even the mainstream press is creating buzz. Michael Logan of TV Guide just published his praise for the Otalia story. Seems like everything is coming together to create buzz- the fans, blogs, and now the press. All this helps P&G in finding GL a new home.

  6. I think Conroy is more like Mr. Efron from HSM franchise especially the hair. Don’t love or hate him yet. Wish that Daisy and James were not the same age (or within a year or so), as that bugs me a lot due to the 90s story lines and out of order SORAS. I don’t see James like Alan like others have mentioned (and Alan himself) because of what happened with the governor’s daughter. Seducing and/or dating someone and then using that relationship to advance your life is out of his grandpa Justin’s book as he did that when he got involved with Phillip’s mom Jackie.

    I think Frank is in a thankless role, but not Mallet and Marina. Mallet being a hit man for eight years destroys his good guy cred in my book. Marina planting drugs on a social worker bothers me a lot. She’s a cop. UGH.

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