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.
3 thoughts on “Ten years in another world”
I enjoyed ATWT during the Hogan years. I was sorry to see him go. The only thing I didn’t like during his tenure was his under utilization of the veteran actors. I can’t imagine the pressure the executive producers of daytime are under at this point. Ellen Wheeler took a lot of hits over the past years, but managed to keep GL on the air. I didn’t like all of her decisions (like “killing Phillip”), but I’ve come to realize the financial situation was difficult. I imagine the same is true at ATWT. I’ve watched both of these soaps for years and like many long time viewers have fond memories of watching with my sister and mother. I’m hoping that ATWT can not only be saved, but improved.
From what I have heard, most of the wrong-headed story decisions over the past 10 years of ATWT can be traced directly to Chris Goutman. Even some of the Sheffer years were plotted by Goutman (so I heard at the time). Goutman is to blame for the many anti-heroes who aren’t actually heroes in any way (Craig, Dusty, Paul), the recasting in character name only, and the inability to refocus the show around the Hugheses. The solutions are obvious to everyone but Goutman.
Goutman is completely fried. And we see the vets even less than we used to. Lucinda occasionally gets a storyline, but that’s it. Kim is permanently the WOAK owner. Bob–where is he? Barbara–Paul’s mother, now and forever. Susan–remember when she had a suspense storyline with a love interest? WOW. Those days are gone, and it was just during the past decade. ATWT needs a complete overhaul, or I really won’t be mourning it a year from now when it circles the drain. Sad but true.