Brandon Barash has announced on Twitter that he’s departing ABC’s “General Hospital.” In his message to fans, Barash tweeted, “With a bittersweet, heavy heart I announce my time at ‘GH’ has come to an end, as I have chosen to move on&pursue my NBA career. I love u all.”
The actor’s exit was confirmed to Soap Opera Network by his management team. A last airdate for Barash is unknown at this time, although the actor allegedly told fans at a recent event that he last taped at the series more than six weeks ago.
Reporting by Errol Lewis and Scotty Gore
As recently noted, Prospect Park‘s “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” are currently in the casting phase of their reboots as we get closer to their expected first film date, which Soap Opera Network has learned will be in Mid February for both series in Stamford, CT.
Sadly, some of the roles being cast appear to be recasts of characters from the ABC eras of the shows. In addition to the expected recasting of “One Life to Live’s” Matthew Buchanan and Destiny Evans (last played by Eddie Alderson and Shenell Edmonds), “All My Children” is also said to be recasting the roles of JR Chandler (last played by Jacob Young) and Cassandra Foster (last portrayed by Yaya DaCosta). For those that may not recall, Cassandra is the adopted daughter of Angela Hubbard (Debbi Morgan), who the good doctor found abandoned in a dumpster during her run on ABC’s “The City” back in the mid-1990′s. The character returned as an 18 year-old seeking comfort from mommy dearest in 2008.
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.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — With the cancellations of “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” back in April it was unclear at the time as to where their replacement shows “The Chew” and “The Revolution” would film their daily episodes. Now with “Chew” filming in New York and soon “The Revolution” set to begin filming in New York as well, Soap Opera Network has learned that ABC Daytime is shifting much of its operations to New York City including talent management and media relations.
Along with the behind the scenes shift to New York, look for Katie Couric‘s new syndicated talk show to be filmed there as well. As previously reported, Couric’s new show will replace “General Hospital” in the 3:00 PM ET/2:00 PM CT/PT timeslot as ABC is set to hand over the hour back to its affiliates beginning in September 2012 in hopes that their affiliates will choose to pick up what the company deems to be a more profit sharing program.
With just three hours left available to program effective September 2012, “General Hospital,” which will be the last remaining regularly scheduled daytime soap still airing on ABC and the last daytime series (scripted or otherwise) produced by ABC filming in Los Angeles, will be fighting for its survival in the coming months as it goes head-to-head with “The Chew” and “The Revolution” when it comes to the almighty dollar (ie. which show brings in enough income relative to cost). Upon announcing the timeslot shift for “GH” back in June, Jori Petersen, Vice President, Publicity, ABC Daytime/SOAPnet stated via a company press release that “The announcement does not mean the inevitable cancellation of ‘General Hospital.’ Rather it means that in September 2012, we will program our daytime block with our three strongest shows. We’ll have options for the daytime daypart just like we do each year with prime-time. We believe in all of our shows and the ones that our viewers want will be the ones that continue. There are many options that could happen … only time will tell. We are simply giving ourselves options for the future, which is a smart way to do business. The best way to ensure a favorite show stays on the air is to watch it.”
New York’s last remaining regularly scheduled daytime soap opera, “One Life to Live,” is set to film its final episode on the afternoon of Friday, November 18 and air its series finale in January 2012. “All My Children,” “As The World Turns,” “Guiding Light,” “Another World,” “The City” and “Loving” were the last regularly scheduled daytime soaps to film in New York City. In the case of “AMC,” the soap moved to Los Angeles in January 2010 in a cost saving move after nearly 40 years on television. The soap was later canceled along with “One Life to Live” in April 2011, four months after celebrating its 41st anniversary.
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Soap Opera Network has confirmed with an official Prospect Park spokesperson that Darnell Williams has reached an agreement to continue with “All My Children” for its scheduled online resurrection in 2012. This afternoon, Williams’ former and future co-star, Lindsay Hartley (Cara) jumped over the production company that licensed “AMC” and “One Life to Live” earlier this year to reveal the news on Twitter. The excited actress exclaimed to fans that the popular actor “has officially signed on!! More to come.” All deals between Prospect Park and performers remain tentative at the moment due to the fact that an official deal hasn’t been reached between the actors’ union AFTRA and the production company.
Williams originally joined the cast of “AMC” in 1981 as Jesse Hubbard, the future love of Angela Baxter’s (Debbi Morgan) life. The actor remained in the role until 1988 when Jesse was killed off. Before returning to “AMC” for a second long-term gig in 2008, Williams played Jacob Foster on ABC’s “Loving” and “The City” opposite his long time co-star Morgan and enjoyed a recurring gig on CBS’ “Guiding Light.” The 2-time Daytime Emmy winner has also appeared in a multitude of prime-time series including a recurring role on “Felicity.” Before rejoining the cast of “AMC,” Williams was the acting coach for the daytime drama for some time and occasionally directed an episode of the daytime drama. On an important side note, Williams’ on-screen other half, Morgan, is currently starring on CBS’ “The Young and the Restless.”
Williams, so far, is only the third “AMC” performer to sign on to continue with the soap opera once it goes online. He joins Hartley and Cameron Mathison (Ryan). Multiple sources indicate that the sticking point for a multitude of actors, besides not being contacted in some cases, has been that the Prospect Park executives want all of their actors to sign on to 4-year contracts. After years of being misinformed and tied to the controlling atmosphere of ABC Daytime, many “AMC” actors don’t appear to have a strong desire to oblige to long-term contracts.
As previously reported, with “All My Children” wrapping production in less than a week, actress Debbi Morgan (Dr. Angela Hubbard) will be heading to CBS’ “The Young and the Restless.” Although her “Y&R” role has not been revealed, a CBS representative has confirmed to Soap Opera Network that Morgan will begin taping scenes beginning Thursday, September 1, which is just one day after her contract with the ABC Television Network is set to expire.
Morgan returned to to the soap that made her famous (“AMC”) back in January 2008 after a near twenty-year absence. She debuted in the role of Dr. Hubbard in 1982, but departed in 1990. In between her “AMC” stints, the actress appeared on the ABC Daytime dramas “Loving,” “The City” and “Port Charles” from 1993 to 1998. She portrayed Dr. Hubbard on both “Loving” and “The City.”
Alongside Daytime Emmy Award Winner Darnell Williams, Morgan created daytime’s first African American super-couple in the form of Jesse and Angie Hubbard. Morgan’s daytime career has also extended outside of ABC Daytime. From 1990 to 1991, Morgan moved on to NBC’s “Generations” and then to CBS’ “The Bold and the Beautiful” from October 2006 to June 2007. The two-time Image Award winner has also had a successful career outside of daytime. She has appeared in numerous primetime series and films.
With “The Young and the Restless” filming roughly five weeks ahead of airdate, a representative has told Soap Opera Network that Morgan will begin airing on Friday, October 7.
“All My Children,” which taped in New York City for much of its broadcast run before moving to the Andrita Studios in Los Angeles after just a year and a half, will cease production next week. Morgan and Jacob Young (JR Chandler) are the only actors confirmed not to be joining the series when it relaunches on the new Prospect Park online network in January 2012. “All My Children” airs its broadcast television series finale on Friday, September 23.
(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.