Careful what you wish for...

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Careful what you wish for...
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The week of January 12, 2009
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Yes, Phillip is returning to the show, and the stories look promising. But at what cost? Whether the budget cuts are made in other salaries, or in production costs, the change could have disastrous results.

As I sit watching all of the commercials this time of year, trying to catch the attention of would-be shoppers, I suddenly had a thought. Is getting what you want always a good thing?

It started with a commercial that shows adults looking back on their greatest Christmas gifts as a child - and the dream of them getting some new car (sorry - I can't remember which one - although the spots are cute) for Christmas. Not that I've ever wanted a new car with a red bow on it - I'd prefer to pick my own. But everyone has a wish at some point - some thing you never thought you'd get, but why not just wish anyway? Just to see what happens?

Maybe it's the fact that it's a new year - my 33rd as a GL fan. And, like many of you, the show has become a part of my family over the years. As a 9-year old girl watching after school on a 13 inch black and white screen, I was transported from my kitchen to the one where Bert Bauer spent days with the citizens of Springfield. Sure, bad things happen, but overall things were pretty happy. Of course, a 9-year old doesn't understand much of infidelity, betrayal or loss - or maybe it was just me that was so innocent back then. But my other family in Springfield was - and is - a big part of my life.

As I got older I understood more of the plots that would unfold on-screen. I remember Holly and Dr. Peter Chapman frolicking on a beach with drinks with little umbrellas in them. When I met Maureen Garrett (Holly) years later, I told her that was my first GL memory - and how I dreamed of sipping a drink (with an umbrella) on a beach with someone when I grew up. And I did.

The adult in me realizes that GL is a show that relies on ratings and viewers to stay afloat. Without viewers and advertisers, the show will disappear like unfulfilled New Year's Resolutions. That doesn't stop me from wanting things the way I want them, though.

For 4+ years I have written off and on about wanting Grant Aleksander (Phillip) to return. I try not to play favorites too much, but Phillip was a character I literally grew up with. He had a 9th on-screen birthday party (when played by Jarrod Ross) when I was 11. What I didn't realize is that it was to highlight the fact that Phillip Spaulding was actually a Marler by birth (switched at birth by Alan when his wife Leslie lost their son in childbirth in France). The thought of your parents not being your parents was a total shock to me. I had friends who were adopted, but they knew it - Phillip was totally in the dark. I have to admit that it lead to many question and answer sessions with my relatives until I was assured that I wasn't switched at birth like Phillip.

Fast forward to 1983 - and the Springfield High Prom with the Four Musketeer's - Mindy, Beth, Rick and Phillip. Somehow he's passed me by two whole years (the magic of daytime) but it got me thinking of my own prom - still two years away.

Since that time Springfield, Phillip - and I - have changed quite a bit. But he's still a character I "know" and want to see on-screen. And now it seems that TPTB have brought Phillip (and Grant) back to Springfield - starting February 9th.

So you think I'd be the happiest GL fan around, right? Well, sort of....

Yes, Phillip (and Grant) are coming back and the stories look promising. But at what cost? I don't get into (and don't know or care to know) salaries, but to pay a veteran salary, the show would have to make cuts in their budget somewhere - right? Whether the cuts are in other salaries, or production costs, the change could have disastrous results.

Even my non-soap fan friends (and my non-soap watching husband) are aware of the economics of daytime in general and GL in particular. Pick up your latest issue of any magazine devoted to daytime and you'll see ratings are down - way down. TVGuide reported in the issue I just received that GL's ratings are down a whopping 21% since the failed Peapack experiment. I'm not a math major - but that is pretty darn frightening in terms of loss of revenue and loss of fans.

This latest report makes me think of two very sad realizations. #1 - The show is depending on Grant's return to bring back a good portion of those fans - the ones who remember the character and want to see what he'll do next. And the even more scary one - # 2 - if it doesn't work, GL could be gone for good - and pretty quickly.

Which brings me back to the point - be careful what you wish for....

Until next week... Keep the Light Shining

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