Guiding Light era has officially ended

Posted Friday, July 24, 2009 2:56:00 PM
Guiding Light era has officially ended

It was hardly amusing to Guiding Light fans when CBS announced on April Fool's Day that it had opted not to renew the long-running soap. Now, nearly four months later, comes official word that the show will not continue on another network. Guiding Light will go dark for good in September.

Television's longest-running scripted program will go off the air for good in September. Though the news seemed more and more inevitable with each passing day, Guiding Light fans will undoubtedly still be devastated by the official announcement that the show will not find life on another network.

"We promised our fans we would do everything we could to find a new home for the show. In the ensuing months, we have engaged in serious discussions with many networks, leaving no stone unturned in our effort to place the show elsewhere," Brian T. Cahill, senior vice-president of TeleNext Media, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, despite the urgent and dedicated efforts of many people, we have not been able to secure an outlet to carry the show moving forward. We are extremely disappointed with this outcome, but we are confident we have exhausted every possible option."

The official announcement comes nearly four months after CBS announced that it was pulling the plug on the 72-year-old soap opera. CBS's decision to end Guiding Light reportedly blindsided many of the show's behind-the-scenes talent, who had been led to believe that the show would be renewed for another year.

The show underwent a dramatic transformation in February 2008 that completely reinvented the show's production model. Guiding Light began shooting roughly a third of its scenes outside of a television studio. New sets were constructed to give the fictional Springfield a more "real world" feel. Salaries were slashed and the budget was slashed across the board. In the end, however, the changes were not enough to make the show profitable to CBS.

TeleNext Media, the production arm of consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble, vowed to leave no stone unturned in its effort to find a new home for Guiding Light and, possibly, As the World Turns. Those talks reportedly included Lifetime, a cable channel that caters to women.

However, a report surfaced last month in a trade magazine that asserted that Guiding Light was intentionally run into the ground because Procter & Gamble wanted to get out of the television business and focus on its core money-making products like Tide, Mr. Clean, and Cover Girl cosmetics. There have also been other published reports that have questioned if TeleNext ever engaged in talks with other networks.

"While it's hard to imagine GL coming to an end, we're so very proud of the amazing feat the show has accomplished with an unprecedented 72 years on radio and television," Cahill continued. "The show has made an indelible mark on broadcast history that likely will never be repeated. We'd like to thank all the members of the cast and crew who have brought Springfield to life for the past seven decades."

During the time when Guiding Light was being shopped around, fans became personally invested in finding a way to keep the show on the air. Fans staged rallies outside of CBS and Lifetimes offices, flooding the networks with phone calls, and urged anyone who would listen to "Keep the Light Shining."

But even the most ardent supporters soon saw the light flicker. Last week, Guiding Light announced that it would be donating its entire wardrobe to a New York-based charity that helps economically disadvantaged women find employment. At least two of the show's top stars have announced that they'd found jobs on other daytime drama series and more are expected to make announcements at any time. The fans' efforts, however, were not unappreciated.

"We continue to appreciate our fans around the world and are grateful for their unwavering support of the show. We hope our viewers will continue to tune in to be entertained and touched by the drama, the love and the family that is GL."

Guiding Light will tape its final episodes during the week of August 3. The show, which aired its first episode on June 30, 1952, will air its final episode on September 18, 2009.

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