Light's Out: CBS Announces Finale for 72-Year-Old Serial
Kim Zimmer and Robert Newman
Capping years of speculation about Guiding Light's livelihood and amid new rumors of its imminent cancellation, CBS has announced a Sept. 18, 2009, end date for the long-running serial.
Come that fateful Friday, GL will have spanned 72 years and delivered more than 15,700 episodes on television and radio.
Created by Irna Phillips, The Guiding Light (yes, with a "The") debuted on NBC Radio in January 1937 as a 15-minute serial. The drama segued to TV in June 1952, and for several years aired concurrently on radio, with actors performing double duty on both formats.
GL expanded to 30 minutes in 1968, then a full hour in 1977. It is credited by the people at Guinness as being "The World's Longest Running Television Drama."
Jill Farren Phelps, now the show runner at General Hospital, was quick to mourn GL, where she once served as exec producer.
"Guiding Light has a very special place in my heart," says Phelps. "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," Phelps continues. "The industry will mourn the loss of this beloved show, but it leaves a rich legacy for all of us in daytime to treasure. I wish all my dear friends a gentle landing."
The switching off of Light will leave CBS with three daytime dramas — the Bell family's The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, and As the World Turns (which, sources say, is likely to be the next serial subject to a death watch). CBS, which for years had led the Big 3 with a quartet of soaps, come September will have the same tally as ABC. NBC, meanwhile, only has Days of Our Lives.
What will inherit GL's time slot? TV Week is hearing that a modern update of $25,000 Pyramid could fill the spot, though CBS is said to also be looking into developing a new daytime talker. Because really, we need more of those.
Light fans, are you shocked to see the plug actually get pulled? Does having six months to prepare for its turn-off help matters at all?