With candid comments from Helen Wagner (Nancy), Eileen Fulton (Lisa), Yvonne Perry (ex Rosanna) and Jeanne Cooper (Kay, Young and the Restless)
When I heard (on Soapdom) that As the World Turns is being cancelled, all I can say is that my afternoons will never be the same. I come before you to reveal that when I heard the news, it was like my world suddenly stopped turning. In fact, you can say, it crashed.
Not only as a writer/reporter have I done stories on the show and its stars, but I also have been an avid watcher and fan for more years than I care to admit. I've visited the set, met and interviewed many of the stars, and can truly say thatit was really a family of talented individuals bringing some great entertainment that enriched our lives for decades. If you can believe this -- my dad is a fan. His highlight was to accompany me to the set, which he was in awe to see the famous Snyder kitchen, and then to be greeted by Margo (Ellen Dolan) and Tom (Scott Holmes).
When I stop and ponder on all the weddings, Christmas and holiday get togethers at the Hughes home, or Bob's famous Barbeques, not to mention the births, the christenings, and the trials and tribulations that are so rich in the history of the tapestry of this show, it becomes ever more clear that this was more than just a show, but rather a part of our daily lives.
Set in the fictional town of Oakdale, Illinois, As the World Turns premiered on April 2, 1956. While all the serials in those days were fifteen minutes in length, As the World Turns, along with long gone Edge of Night, debuted in thirty minute formats.
In 1967 the show went to color, and in 1975 it expanded to a full hour. In April of 2006 As the World Turns celebrated its 50th anniversary, and is currently the longest running daytime drama on television.
Produced by Proctor & Gamble, a company and a name that means "soap" seems, at first glance, to have abandoned the ever popular soap opera genre. First was the demise of Another World, Guiding Light, and now, As the World Turns. The show will still air thru September of 2010. However, the top brass at P&G is as heart broken as we are over the loss of their last running soap and is vowing to place it elsewhere if possible. But I am getting ahead of myself a bit. Let's back track...
The cancellation of As the World Turns is blamed on budget, low ratings and the fact that the television network can spend less and earn more with another format that doesn't require a host of actors, writers, producers, directors and crew -- all coming complete with "personalities, demands and I wants." If you recall, veteran Martha Byrne, who played the beloved Lily Snyder, left last year because of not being able to agree on a contract. With budget cuts many stars are forced to take big salary cuts, or take the high road, which is what Deidre Hall (Marlena) and Drake Hogestyn (John) did last year on Days of our Lives. And the much publicized story of veteran Eric Braeden (Victor) leaving Young and Restless, but at the eleventh hour he reached an agreement to stay.
Proctor & Gamble first began producing soap operas in 1933 with the radio serial "Ma Perkins," and has since produced at least 20 such shows. As the World Turns is the only one standing at this moment, and soon will be off the airwaves. Soapdom wants to know if anything can happen between now and then to save P&G's last remaining broadcast soap?
"I hope so," said Helen Wagner, who has played Nancy since the first episode. "We will have to wait and see if a spot somewhere can be found. Remember there is always a will."
Wagner admitted the sadness that came over her upon hearing the news, but was not surprised. "Oh heck no. I've seen where the show has been going in terms of writing. There has been lack of character storylines, and nothing being written for the older members. It is sad to put aside people that started this show, and act like they don't exist."
Wagner said that having a job on a soap for a woman, "back in the day" was truly a blessing. "Hey! We were those broads. Those working girls," Wagner said. "It was a high ride. I'm very grateful. I have so many scenes that I loved, but I always liked the holiday shows. What was great is that we taped a Christmas show and then we celebrated Christmas at home. It was like two holidays. And working with the greatest people. I could never choose one! They were all great."
Eileen Fulton, who has played the flamboyant Lisa, and has been married to nine TV husbands agrees. "It's sad that CBS gave up on us. I just got a call from Chris Goutman (executive producer) telling me the news. I was devastated." Fulton said. "The sad part is these people that make the so-called decisions are usually young and are not even familiar with the show, the stories, or anything. They just care less. We will probably be replaced by who knows what kind of show. I will tell you... this was a heck of a Christmas gift." (The cast working the day of the notice were all called in by Goutman).
The demise of the show leaves a void for many people. One can say....everyone's life will be altered. The fans have lost a part of their extended family and the actors are facing the future of the unknown. Helen Wagner said, "I thought I'd be here till I die."
Eileen Fulton joked and said, she was looking to meeting husband ten, "Or at least I wanted to punch out Kim and go off into the sunset with Bob." Fulton also added that she really feels for the fans that have been so dedicated and supportive.
Fulton recalled so many moments that she has cherished being on the show. "I have 35 years of favorite scenes. I loved the scenes with Bob (Don Hastings), and working with him," she said. "I loved all my men, or my boys. I loved working with Nicholas Costner (Edwardo). We were married and then he was shot. It all lasted two minutes. I loved it!"
Fulton added that over the years she had so many memories with fans. "They wrote me. Sent me gifts -- and many shared their lives with me. It was like a marriage. That doesn't happen often in TV," Fulton joshes. "This show has given me an all time high. Believe it or not...I struck a friendship with a priest in Aurora, Il., and have been going there and doing shows to raise money for the church."
Fulton explained that when she was picked for the role of Lisa, she just knew that she would get the part. "Oh yes! I knew this role was for me. I was just starting out in the business doing theater and bit parts, but this role was what took my career off the ground," Fulton said. "I gained an audience. I became nationally known, and have been working non-stop since, and still plan on continuing, especially with my cabaret show." (By the way...her show is a must see).
The news of the cancellation has affected the fans. "I'm heart sick and heart broken," said Violet Sandridge of Albany, New York, who has watched the show since its inception. "I'm 81 years-old and everyday that was my day. I really don't know what I will do. When there was a wedding! I really felt like I was there. I'm devastated. CBS lost a good viewer."
Former cast member, Yvonne Perry, who played Rosanna Cabot in the 1990's shares some of her thoughts. "I'm saddened by the thought of the cancellation of ATWT. It is not only home to many talented performers, but also a show that helped jump start the careers of so many young actors, including myself. I will always remember my years of playing Rosanna as challenging, educational, and exciting beyond measure," Perry said. "I am grateful for the opportunities ATWT presented to me as a young actress, not the least of which was being able to pay off my student loans! In the years since I left, I've enjoyed being able to tune in and see so many familiar faces...the thought of no longer being able to do so is strange to me. I can only imagine how bereft the legions of ATWT fans will be after the show stops airing. Truly, the end of an era."
The cancellation of As the World Turns also has the feathers ruffled of the competition. Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) of Young and Restless said it's just a shame. "When I heard I was like...what is happening? It's really changing our world. You know...back in the day TV took over radio, and now with the technology out there and so many options, the surface of TV is changing. The genre is going. I guess if we did porn, we'd be around forever. It never goes out."
So are soaps dying? Well! We have lost several great one's within the last decade. Is TV changing? Where are we going? Reality shows? More talk shows? What about those great cooking shows? Or will the morning news shows extend even more hours into the day? What about those game shows that dominated the airwaves in the 1970's? All food for thought.
Whatever the future holds for the tube (oh wait -- that's gone too! I forgot the LCD or plasma screen is what it is called today) we will have to wait and see. But is it only me, or have you had enough of Kate and Jon, too? Or perhaps we are engaged in the real soap opera like the Tiger Woods saga? Or should we hold our breath that a new world may turn for As the World Turns and then we can really say that miracles do come true?
But whatever happens -- take a moment to pause and really think...where is all this going? Am I the only one that feels that life's changes are not always for the better, and why, just why, can't some things stay the same? What is really so bad about an hour of fictional drama each day in our very own complicated lives? In the not so distant future, we As the World Turns fans will no longer be able to say: "tune in tomorrow and find out."
What are YOU doing to keep As the World Turns on the air? Let us know how we can help in the comments section below. Log in first!
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