They say fast-paced soap operas are good training grounds for primetime gigs, and that must be the case, considering several former soap stars have garnered Primetime Emmy nods this year! In light of the official announcement of the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Award nominees, Soap Opera Network brings you the who, what and where of stars who’ve given sudsers a go.
When “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” debut with brand new episodes on Monday, April 29 on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes, they will have the full support of CBS Daytime. Angelica McDaniel, Senior Vice President, CBS Daytime, wishes Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz, whose Prospect Park licensed the two soaps from ABC in 2011, nothing but the best.
“Congratulations and best of luck on the success. Your success is our success and vice versa. And it’s just a thrilling new experience and I look forward to seeing where the journey takes you,” she said in a message relayed via Soap Opera Network.
With Prospect Park now signing agreements with key unions SAG-AFTRA (actors), the DGA (directors), and the WGA (writers), with an expectation to begin filming episodes of “All My Children” as soon as next month, we wondered who you wanted to see act on the soap when it moves to the web. Your choices can include past actors as well as wishful casting (recast and new characters are welcomed). We also wondered who you want to join the writing team now that thousands of writers are at Prospect Park’s disposal courtesy of their agreement with the WGA, as well as who you want to direct episodes of the series. Keep in mind that Agnes Nixon, who created both “AMC” and “One Life to Live,” is currently working as a consultant for Prospect Park, according to Foz McDermott, head of production for TOLN (Prospect Park’s The Online Network). Also note that actors Jordi Vilasuso (Dr. Griffin Castillo), Darnell Williams (Jesse Hubbard), Debbi Morgan (Dr. Angela Hubbard), Vincent Irizarry (Dr. David Hayward) and Lindsay Hartley (Dr. Cara Castillo) are all confirmed as signing on to return to “AMC” when it moves to the web. Alicia Minshew (ex-Kendall Hart) has reported that she’s been approached, while Cameron Mathison (ex-Ryan Lavery) hope’s he can be involved. There’s no word yet on the status of Susan Lucci (ex-Erica Kane), who was the only original cast member from the first season of “AMC” that had remained with the show without interruption from its debut on January 5, 1970 through its final ABC broadcast on September 23, 2011.
Renee Jones has made one of the most daring decisions of her life. The “Days of our Lives” actress has decided to quit acting and leave the NBC daytime soap after a 20-year career that has spawned one of the longest and most successful pairings in daytime with her character Lexi Carver and James Reynolds‘ Abe Carver.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — On Thursday, October 20, it was announced that longtime “General Hospital” writer Michele Val Jean would be joining the Emmy Award winning writing team of CBS’ “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Also on that day Val Jean was given the opportunity of visiting the set of the soap while they were filming so she could get a better feel of the characters and the actors.
“I am pleased to announce that Michele Val Jean will be joining our writing team,” said Executive Producer and Head Writer, Bradley P. Bell shortly after showing Val Jean around the set amidst introductions to cast and crew. “With her vast wealth of knowledge, experience, and creativity, Michele is sure to be a significant addition to ‘The Bold and the Beautiful.’”
For the past 18 years Val Jean held numerous positions as a writer at “GH” including a brief stint as Co-Head Writer in early 2001 (January 2001 – April 2001) along side “GH” Script Editor Elizabeth Korte. Val Jean was also an Associate Head Writer and Occasional Scipt Writer on the soap from 1996-2000. Val Jean joined the “General Hospital” writing team as a Script Writer in 1993 and departs in 2011 in the same position.
One of the rarest of qualities found in a daytime writer today is a presence that connects fans of daytime serials to the creative minds behind what appears on screen. Unlike many of her peers, Val Jean has been a key fixture in social networking services including Facebook and Twitter. Just a short time ago for instance Val Jean wrote on her Twitter page and said, “Home stretch. One more script and I turn the page on an 18+ year chapter in my life and begin another. #lookingforwardtothefuture.” Laura Wright, who portrays the popular Carly Jacks on “GH” responded to Val Jean’s tweet shortly afterward by saying, “@MicheleValJean so excited for u and super sad not to say ur words anymore! Enjoy ur next chapter!!!”
In addition to her work on “GH,” Val Jean is credited as a writer on both “GH” spinoffs (SOAPnet’s “General Hospital: Night Shift” and ABC’s “Port Charles), ” NBC’s “Generations” and “Santa Barbara.”
At this time it remains unclear as to when “B&B” scripts written by Val Jean will first appear on screen. Stay tuned to Soap Opera Network as this story develops.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — EXCLUSIVE! Sources have confirmed to Soap Opera Network that “Days of our Lives” has fired Co-Executive Producer Noel Maxam. His replacement will be former “Passions” Executive Producer Lisa De Cazotte.
This comes as a shocking development as Maxam was named Co-Executive Producer this past June, along with Greg Meng, who will remain as Co-Executive Producer.
De Cazotte was the Executive Producer of “Passions” for the show’s entire run (July 5, 1999 – August 7, 2008). This reunites her with former “Passions” writers and current “DAYS” Co-Head Writers Darrell Ray Thomas, Jr. and Marlene McPherson.
De Cazotte began her soap opera career as an intern for “One Life To Live” in the early 1980′s and worked her way up to Coordinating Producer before leaving in 1991 to join “Santa Barabara” as a Producer. When “Santa Barbara” ended in 1993, she joined “All My Children” where she was a Coordinating Producer and later Supervising Producer. In 1996, De Cazotte left “AMC” to help start NBC’s new soap opera “Sunset Beach” where she worked as a Producer and Supervising Producer. In 1998, De Cazotte was chosen to be the Executive Producer of another new NBC soap, “Passions.” After “Passions” ended, De Cazotte was name the Executive Producer for the second season of SOAPnet’s “General Hospistal: Night Shift” (July 22, 2008 – October 21, 2008). In 2009, she returned to “All My Children” as a Producer and worked there for a year.
De Cazotte is a graduate of Fordham University and has 4 Daytime Emmy nominations.
Stay tuned to Soap Opera Network as more details become available.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Beginning on Monday, September 12 look for John O’Hurley to debut in the role of film producer Kit Sterling on “All My Children.” Mr. Sterling will approach Pine Valley’s leading lady Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) in an effort to convince her to turn her new book, “Erica Kane: Uncensored,” into a big-screen production. O’Hurley is best known for the recurring role of Elaine’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) boss John Peterman on the former NBC mega-hit series “Seinfeld” and his stint on the first season of ABC’s hit reality series “Dancing with the Stars.” He also hosted the popular syndicated game show “Family Fued.”
O’Hurley is very familiar to the world of daytime television. He was married to “AMC” star Eva LaRue, who is among the many returning actors to “AMC” this summer, from 1992 to 1994. The actor appeared on ABC’s “Loving” and “General Hospital,” CBS’s “As the World Turns” and “The Young and The Restless” and NBC’s “Santa Barbara.” The dancing champion has also guest-starred on numerous series and with a distinctive tone has found success doing voice-over work, as well.
Look for O’Hurley to appear in several episodes of the 41-year-old daytime drama this September. “AMC” last airs on ABC on Friday, September 23. Production company Prospect Park has licensed ”AMC” and “One Life to Live” from ABC. Following their extinction on ABC, new episodes of both soaps are expected to be available to fans again in some form at some point in 2012.
After a week of unconfirmed (by the show) firings of numerous actors, NBC’s “Days of our Lives” has now fired its co-executive producer, Gary Tomlin. The news was first reported by TV Guide Canada‘s Nelson Branco on Twitter. News of Tomlin’s firing comes on the heels of last months firing of head writer Dena Higley and the recent firings of actors Crystal Chappell (Carly Manning), Louise Sorel (Vivian Alamain), Bren Foster (Quinn Hudson), Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe Lane), and Tamara Braun (Taylor Walker).
It was in August 2008 when Executive Producer Ken Corday announced the hiring of Tomlin after confirming the ouster of Ed Scott.
“I have decided that it’s in the best interest of the show’s future to make this change in order to improve ‘Days’ both visually and emotionally,” said Corday at the time. “We at ‘Days’ are grateful to Ed Scott for all of his contributions and amazing energy over the past year. Gary Tomlin brings a long successful history of being an actor’s producer and a writer’s producer to our cast and crew and I know the viewers will see the immediate results of this change for the better.” Unfortunately for Tomlin his services were deemed no longer necessary.
At this time no replacement had been named nor was it clear whether or not Corday would take on all executive producer responsibilities himself.
Prior to joining “DAYS,” Tomlin began his career in daytime in 1973, when he was cast in the contract role of Bruce Carson on “Search for Tomorrow.” He later appeared as Morgan Simpson on NBC’s “Another World” in 1979. From 1980-1981, he was co-head writer of “DAYS” with Michelle Poteet-Lisanti. Later, he went on to co-head write at his old stomping ground, “Another World” for two years starting in 1984. In the late 1980′s/early 1990′s, Tomlin began writing scripts for “Santa Barbara” and directing episodes for both “Another World” and “One Life to Live.” In 1995 he joined “All My Children” as a producer. Upon the debut of NBC’s “Sunset Beach” in 1997 through its last airing in 1999, Tomlin was credited as the shows Executive Producer. He served as a director at NBC’s “Passions” from 2000-2001 and again from April 25, 2003 – April 2, 2008. He joined “One Life to Live” as its Executive Producer in November 2000, but his first credited episodes did not air until January 2001. He left the ABC soap in August 2003. He was immediately replaced by current “One Life” Executive Producer, Frank Valentini. Tomlin won the soap its one and only Outstanding Drama Series Daytime Emmy Award in 2003.
Due to its advanced filming schedule, Tomlin will be credited as EP until episodes scheduled to air in late August/early September.
A “Days of our Lives” representative was unavailable for comment at press time.
Today “Young and the Restless” co-executive producer Paul Rauch announced that he will be stepping down from the drama series as of Friday, April 1, which ironically enough is April Fool’s Day. This of course is no joke.
“My collaboration with Steve Kent, and Maria [Arena Bell] and Bill Bell [Jr.] has been very rewarding,” said Rauch in a statement. “I had great pleasure working with ‘Y&R’s’ magnificent cast and crew. I feel that I’ve accomplished everything that I set out to achieve, and it’s now time for me to return to New York.”
Rauch was named co-executive producer in October 2008 alongside executive producer/head writer Arena Bell. Prior to joining “Y&R,” he served time as executive producer at “Another World,” “Guiding Light,” “One Life to Live,” and “Santa Barbara.”
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — After 72 years on air between radio and television, CBS’s “Guiding Light” will cease broadcasting on the CBS Television Network due to low ratings. Love may save the world, but apparently it wasn’t enough to save television’s longest running daytime drama. Even with having its name published in the Guinness World Record Book and winning three Daytime Emmy’s for Best Drama Series (the most recent being in 2007), “GL” found itself unable to withstand the mass exodus of viewers from the traditional daytime soap format in recent years.
Consistently finding itself in the ratings cellar for the past few years, many sensed that the dimming ‘Light” would soon burn out on the long-running daytime drama.
According to published reports, Proctor & Gamble, the company responsible for producing both “Guiding Light” and sister soap “As the World Turns,” sat down with cast and crew members at their studios in New York and New Jersey on Wednesday morning to break the news that “GL” would be ceasing production this fall, with the last episode airing on Friday, September 18th after more than 15,700 episodes.
The news was met with mixed emotion by fans and cast alike. Long running “GL” castmember Ron Raines, who portrays the villainous Alan Spaulding stated that the “The numbers are really tough for all these old dramas. I don’t think any of the other shows want any of us to go off. We’re all in this together. What was it? 72 years continuous? That will never be touched. It is a very sad thing, but these are the times we live in. It’s very tough out there.”
“Being on the air for more than seven decades is truly remarkable, and it will be difficult for all of us at the show to say goodbye,” said Executive Producer Ellen Wheeler. “I’m proud of everything we’ve been able to do, including outstanding storytelling, our community service around the country with ‘Find Your Light’ and the launch of our new production model. This show has such a rich history, wonderful fans, and I’m honored to have been a part of the ‘GL’ legacy.”
This afternoon’s sudden announcement has sent shockwaves that have reverberated around the nation, as news of “GL’s” demise has dominated media outlets and online soap message boards. Lynn Leahey, Soap Opera Digest editorial director, calls the cancellation “heartbreaking” and said that “it was a constant in people’s lives” that hung around, unlike its prime-time counterparts that came and went. “For many of us, it was the first show we ever watched.”
Former “GL” Executive Producer Jill Farren Phelps summed up her fondness for the years she spend at the helm of the long-running daytime drama “‘Guiding Light’ has a very special place in my heart. I began my career in daytime there as a production assistant and later returned as executive producer. It was a privilege (both times) to be a part of such a fabulous group of people who did such outstanding work. Some of the most talented actors, writers, and directors have walked through the doors of ‘Guiding Light.’ The industry will mourn the loss of this beloved show, but ‘Guiding Light’ leaves a rich legacy for all of us in daytime to treasure. I wish all my dear friends a gentle landing.”
Nancy Tellem, President of CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group, had this to say about the the show’s rich legacy, “‘Guiding Light’ has achieved a piece of television history that will never be matched, it has crossed mediums, adapted its stories to decades of social change, and woven its way through generations of audiences like no other. This daytime icon will always be an indelible part of CBS’s history, with a legacy of innovation and reputation for quality and excellence at every step of the way. While its presence will be missed, its contributions will always be celebrated and will never be forgotten.”
And, according to Barbara Bloom, Senior Vice President of Daytime Programs at CBS, “No show in daytime or prime time, or anytime, has touched so many millions of viewers across so many years as ‘Guiding Light.’ We thank the cast, crew, and producers — past and present — who delivered this entertainment institution, the beloved characters, and the time-honored stories to our audience every day for seven decades. It’s been a privilege to work with such an extraordinarily talented group of people.”
Adding to “GL’s” woes within the past decade is the fact that several prominent CBS affiliates from around the country have either moved the soap to early morning or late night time slots, or removed it from their programming schedule entirely (such as KOVR-TV in Sacramento, California and WNEW-TV in Flint City, Michigan).
With sagging ratings, “Guiding Light” began to experiment with several different approaches to the traditional daytime model of storytelling within the past year. The sudser scrapped the familiar three stationary camera set-up in favor of portable cameras, which allowed producers to film cast members in various settings and locations outside the studio. Unfortunately, however, the changes did little to re-energize ‘GL,’ and largely had the opposite effect, resulting in turning off veteran fans and losing such popular cast members such as Beth Elhers and Ricky Paull Goldin (who have since moved on to ABC’s “All My Children”).
According to CBS, in 2008, the soap “premiered a brand-new daytime production model, featuring permanent sets inside its New York City studio and approximately 20% of the production shot in exterior scenes in the town of Peapack, N.J. In addition, directing and editing were changed to be done digitally and almost simultaneously, giving the sets a more realistic feeling and eliminating the need for production suites.”
In a press release issued by TeleNext Media, Inc., which oversees production of “GL” for Proctor & Gamble, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Brian T. Cahill thanked fans for their loyalty over the years and said that “We are honored to have been welcomed into the homes of multiple generations of ‘Guiding Light’ viewers. Cahill also gave “GL” fans a glimmer of soap by announcing that he and his staff are “working hard to find the show a new home, and we are exploring all our options to continue to bring loyal fans the characters and stories they love.” That ‘new home’ could come in the form of online episodes or moving ‘GL’ to a cable or satellite network following the soap’s departure from the CBS Daytime schedule this fall. However, given the recent failure of the now-defunct NBC soap “Passions,” which moved to DirecTV near the end of its run after being cancelled by the Peacock Network, the outlook for a new venue for “Guiding Light” appears bleak at best.
The demise of “Guiding Light” leaves only seven daytime soaps still airing on the Big Three Networks. ABC and CBS will each have three and NBC one. In terms of longevity, fellow P&G soap “As the World Turns” is daytime’s second oldest drama, celebrating its 53rd anniversary on April 2nd. The other six soaps (with the year they premiered in parenthesis) are “General Hospital” (1963), “Days of Our Lives” (1965), “One Life to Live” (1968), “All My Children” (1970), “The Young & the Restless” (1973), and “The Bold & the Beautiful” (1987). “GL” becomes the eighth daytime drama to be cancelled in the past twenty years, placing it with the likes of “Another World,” “Santa Barbara,” “Sunset Beach,” “Loving,” “The City,” “Port Charles,” and “Passions.”
“Guiding Light” was created nearly seventy-five years ago by the talented soap writer Irna Phillips (1901-1973). Long recognized as a daytime pioneer, Phillips created or co-created nearly a dozen soaps, three of which (“As the World Turns” and “Days of Our Lives,” which she helped Tim and Betty Corday develop) were still on the air at the beginning of 2009. Phillips has either direct or indirect ties to all but one of the eight present daytime dramas. Agnes Nixon (creator of “One Life to Live” and “All My Children”) and William J. Bell, who developed the concepts for “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” were at one time writers for Phillips on several of her soaps. This leaves “General Hospital” as the only remaining soap not either created by the late soap icon, or one of her protégés. “Guiding Light” paid homage to Phillips in a special 70th anniversary episode in 2007, which featured past and present cast members portraying Phillips, her crew, and some of the original “GL” characters while recording a radio broadcast of the show in the late 1930s.
Launched as a 15-minute NBC radio serial on January 25, 1937, “Guiding Light” would later make the transition to television, premiering on CBS on June 30th, 1952. The radio broadcast ran concurrently with its TV counterpart (and featured the same actors and characters) before coming to an end in 1956. “GL” first aired in color on September 11th, 1967, and expanded to thirty minutes the following year. In November 1977, it expanded once more, this time to sixty minutes. Ratings peaked in late 1981, but have steadily declined in the years that have followed.
Set in the fictional town of Springfield and focusing primarily on the Spaulding, Lewis, and Cooper families, “Guiding Light” has won an impressive 69 Daytime Emmy Awards and 12 Soap Opera Digest Awards during the soap’s long, record-setting history. “GL” has also broken ground over the years by tackling numerous controversial issues including teen pregnancy, cancer, alcoholism, sexual harrasement, abuse, Down Syndrome, and post-partum depression. It was also the first daytime drama to prominently feature African-Americans in frontburner storylines in 1966. ‘GL’ became the first soap to podcast audio only episodes in 2005. Veteran cast members include Kim Zimmer, Jordan Clarke, Robert Newman, Michael O’Leary, Grant Alexander, and Tina Sloan. “GL” also boasts a long list of distinguished alumni, including Justin Deas (who is tied with “One Life to Live’s” Erika Slezak and “General Hospital’s Anthony Geary for most Daytime Emmy wins, and remains a part of the cast), Kevin Bacon, Calista Flockhart, Allison Janney, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Taye Diggs, Hayden Panettiere, and Brittany Snow.
Originally known as “The Guiding Light” (‘the’ was dropped in 1975), the show focused around the character of the Rev. John Ruthledge, and his parishioners in the Chicago suburb of Five Points (the setting later moved to Selby Flats, before finally settling in Springfield). A continuously lit lamp in the Reverend’s study assured his flock that he was there for them whenever they needed him.
Even though the ‘Light’ will soon be extinguished, its legacy and rich history will continue to live on in future generations of soap fans. Thank you, “Guiding Light,” for your contributions to the daytime drama, and God speed. You will be missed.
Stay connected to SON as we continue to follow this story.
“Guiding Light” airs Weekdays on CBS. Anytime on CBS.com. Check local listings.