Twenty-eight years ago, Harding Lemay released his book Eight Years in Another World, which talked about his experience as head writer of Another World. Lemay’s book talked about the process of writing a show – and how ultimately time consuming and exhausting it was.
This week, another P&G soap has a producer that’s observing TEN years in another world – the executive producer of As The World Turns, Christopher Goutman. (According to Wikipedia, Goutman started at ATWT on June 7, 1999.)
I mentioned this a few months back, and I was as serious then as I am now: I think Goutman needs a change of pace, or a vacation.
I’m not suggesting he needs to be fired, because I don’t want to wish job loss on anyone in this economy. I also think Goutman’s energy and vision almost saved Another World and really grounded ATWT in the early part of this decade, when strong writing was powering the show and making it a more dynamic hour to watch. (People have mixed feelings about Hogan Sheffer, but ATWT was far more watchable and coherent – and RECOGNIZABLE – under his pen.)
I wish Goutman could find new inspiration or a different perspective. He seemed incredibly exhausted and defeated in last year’s interview with Barbara Bloom, and I don’t blame him – the genre, and his job, has changed significantly in the last 11 years (he also produced the last year of AW).
I’m mourning the loss of Guiding Light, and I don’t want people to assume that losing As The World Turns is a done deal, as well. But there has to be some new ideas, new blood and an openness to revisiting history and using it to propel story into the future, or it WILL be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If anything, I wish P&G/Telenext would launch a new way to see both shows, or find that media partner to move forward with. And like President Obama talking to generals in battle to get a sense of what’s happening, Telenext should use the knowledge and experience of Goutman (and Ellen Wheeler) to help define where the show(s) will be three to five years from now.
Otherwise, just driving the car (or the producer) forward – with the only plan being “to make it to the next town and not run out of gas” almost guarantees that your resources – your time slot, talented producers like Goutman, or the show itself – will run out of energy, out of luck, or out of existence.
EDITED TO ADD: Today brought what I thought was an immensely promising announcement for ATWT: Soap vet Lynn Herring is joining the show as Henry’s mother, Audrey.
Herring has been greatly missed, and I can’t wait to see her go toe to toe with Trent Dawson and Ewa de Cruz, who are one of my favorite couples and one of the positives about ATWT right now.