WTF? CBS Pimps Daytime Lineup on Canceled Guiding Light



For the first time in ages, and certainly since I've been blogging for Daytime Confidential, I am absolutely furious and utterly appalled over a bit of business that happened on today's episode of Guiding Light in scenes involving Buzz (Justin Deas) and Cyrus (Murray Bartlett) set on location in New York City.

While tracking down a lead to a clue that the late Jenna (Fiona Hutchinson) left in a hotel room, Buzz and Cyrus wound up at the real CBS Broadcast Center in Manhattan. Once inside the building, they spoke to a page (think 30 Rock's Kenneth) who awkwardly and painfully informed them that The Price is Right films in California and gave them the actual phone number to would be contestants in the studio audience. Things didn't stop there. The page then told them As the World Turns tapes in Brooklyn and airs at 2PM. I am not making this up.

At the risk of being kicked off Daytime Confidential, I have to state for the record that I have never seen such a pile of disrespectful real life horseshit in all my decades of watching soaps. Forget the niceties of "WTF?" Seriously, what the fuck was that? In what freaking universe did Ellen Wheeler, Barbara Bloom, Brian T. Cahill, or Les Moonves think it was a good idea to pimp parts of its daytime lineup on a show they recently kicked to the curb?

I cannot recall seeing anything like this on any canceled soap — much less any show period — ever. Had the scene been played for camp or irony with Ms. Bloom herself or possibly a cameo from Moonves playing the page, it might have gone down easier; but with the exception of an awkwardly delivered line from Buzz about ATWT ("I've missed the last few episodes, how is Carly doing?"), I just stared at the screen in slack-jawed disbelief.

Can anyone who watched Santa Barbara imagine Julia Capwell saying in that show's final days, "Mason, Sunset Beach will be making its debut in our time slot about a month from now on your local NBC affiliate following Days of Our Lives!" Or how about The City's Syndey Chase uttering, "Don't miss The View, which will be filming right here in our studios some time after the Happy Now Killer knocks me off!" I really expected Wayne Brady to stroll through in a cameo and give Cyrus and Buzz the email address to sign up as contestants for Let's Make a Deal, the game show that will replace Guiding Light when the 72 year old soap goes off the air.

This is an outrage that far surpasses the firings of beloved actors, the assassinations of characters, abysmal writing choices, or even cancellations themselves. It is monumentally stupid: by name-checking ATWT as a fictional soap opera, whoever wrote that steaming pile didn't seem to know or care that that show's fictional locale of Oakdale shares the same fictional universe as GL's Springfield. Sure, other shows have namechecked each other but that was within the context of their own universes, not to obliterate decades-long connections altogether.

Even more outrageous, this is one of those proverbial slaps in the faces of many fans who are in literal mourning over the loss of Guiding Light. For all its missteps, mistakes, and the criticisms we have had of the series, GL remains a potent force in the emotional lives of its many devotees, from the few left who listened to the show on radio when it was set in fictional Selby Flats, California to those people who recently became enamored of Otalia in real life location Peapack, New Jersey.

While I have no idea how Deas or Bartlett felt about filming those scenes, I felt badly for them and, by extension, all the actors, crew and production staff at GL during what had to have been and likely still is a tough time for many of them. The entire scene not only felt demoralizing, but seriously pulled me out of an otherwise fairly strong episode of character work and poignancy highlighted by Bill (Daniel Cosgrove, who showed up to act) and Remy (a heartbreaking Lawrence St. Victor) remembering and finally making peace over the late Baby Max/Clayton Boudreaux II.

As something of a go-with-the-flow kinda of viewer, I rarely get upset with a show but this scene ostensibly set at CBS Broadcast Center pissed me off royally. What might have been intended as gentle comedy came off as crass and disrespectful to Guiding Light's cast, crew, fans and, in many ways, its legacy. My anger is not at The Price is Right or As the World Turns, but rather the boneheaded idiocy that prevailed when someone came up with the un-brilliant idea to pimp them by name (and phone number!) during Guiding Light's final days on broadcast television.

Whoever made the decision to shoehorn that unnecessary crap into Friday's episode whether at Telenext, CBS or the GL writer's room, shame, shame, shame on you.


Comments

PST's picture
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Wow...NO WORDS!!!

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I didn't see it, but from what you've described, that was some tacky shit Barbara Bloom pulled. Did she think the GL fans would appreciate this obvious, obnoxious "check out the soap that wasn't canceled!" bit and tune in to ATWT once GL goes off? Somebody needs to give this woman her walking papers. Justin Deas is a class act but I wouldn't have blamed him one bit if he said "Fuck this. I'm not saying that." What are they going to do? Fire him? Whoops, Ellen Wheeler already let that happen. At this rate, they'll have Trent Dawson's Henry talking about playing poker with Victor Newman in Genoa City soon.

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CHURCH!!!!!!

bonobochick's picture
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I actually saw it since I have been watching GL for the past 4-5 months and while I wasn't as pissed off as you, J. Bernard, I did find it badly misplaced "comedy" and very, very tacky. Oups
.

It wasn't cute and it wasn't fun[ny]. It was extremely awkward and incredibly stupid. Plus it was pointless.

Miameow's picture
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Well, well said J. Bernard Jones! I agree...completely shameful! And while I'd love to tell you that I'm even a little bit surprised, I'd be lying if I did. I think it's just another in a LONG line of disrespectful things CBS has done to exhibit its utter and inexplicable contempt for daytime's Grand Dame. They have no respect for Guiding Light or any of the cast and crew, and after today's antics - though we hardly needed them to prove the point - obviously no respect for the genre. I actually don't think shameful is a strong enough word. I think it was an abomination.

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Thought the exact same thing J Bernard! Let's promote the network that cancelled our show! What fun!

ladyofthelake's picture
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Oh fuck no, fuck no. I didn't see it, but how disgusting. I guess CBS wanted the fans to know nobody from GL will go on to ATWT for sure, since it's fake and all. It's more than tacky, it's more than shameful. I have no words. What's next, Reva and Josh talking about Nicki and Victor on their favorite CBS soap. Olivia getting over Natalia by watching B&B. Egh, Wheeler should be shot for allowing her actors and crew and writers for doing that.

troymcclure's picture
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When I read the recap the day before, I actually thought that they were gonna take pot shots at CBS. For example, that all the people there would be rude and throw them out or maybe an old lonely lady would be sitting outside on the curb while the business suits stepped on here. Justin Deas surprises me. He doesn't want to be a part of the last ever cast photo because he doesn't do publicity but he still deliver these lines. I know, its not up to him but still..

I was totally expecting them to pimp "lets make a deal" during the scene.

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Ditto!

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I think you might look elsewhere to place the blame in this instance - where to?
The new AFTRA (actor's union) contract that allows for ( obligates actors to ) embedded endorsement and product placement to take place within what was formally commercial free scripted drama.
I understand They were eating a lot of Pringles potato chips at a recent Bauer bbq or wedding or something , with no hiding of the product name or anything which would have been done ordinarily.
The problem with this kind of thing is that :
1) it isn't really part of the story or plot being told
2) the actors are contractually obligated to do it
3) the actors receive no extra compensation for embedded advertising
4) etc.!

this was also seen this season on desperate housewives ( which i would have thought was a SAG - screen actors guild prod.... but increasingly more primetime shows are aftra with lower pay rates..?) when they repeatedly showed and mentioned a particular make of car, that had no relevance to the story .

I gather from what I have read that the Price is right is not doing gangbusters , so probably the cbs bigwigs have passed down the order to the soaps to integrate a cross promotional aspect into their shows... which is why Donna and Pam on B&B went to a taping of the Price is right - CHEESY , to say the least .
It all reeks of a certain desperation as The price as right has delivered reliable ratings ( i assume) for decades and leads into the afternoon of soaps ( in most cities) . CBS has to keep the price is right going strong especially now that they've committed themselves to another hour of game show programming with GL's replacement . Hopefully no more soap characters will appear as contestants on that show, but I wouldn't be surprised to see some B&B characters pop up there too.
Not to be a spoiler or anything , but some Y&R characters are rumored to visit Springfield in it's final weeks or days . Another cross-promotional gambit- though I am sure it will make some sense and be integrated into the storyline....

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I didn't know why he ( Justin Deas) wasn't in the last cast photo....or that one that SOW published rather (?) , but now I understand , basically ...It must be in his contract that he isn't obligated to do such things i suppose.
Anyway , he is missed in the photo.....

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J. Bernard, you took the words out of my mouth. I saw this episode and these scenes of Cyrus and Buzz. What a bunch of pointless crap! It was downright tacky. I am pissed that whomever let this go to air thought these scenes would be funny, cute or ironic. No fun, not cute and the irony of the matter, they don't give a flying flip over how they continue to destroy this show. My term of today is summed up in the following statement--CBS, Telenext, Guiding Light's Executive Producer, Guiding Light writers, whomever was involved in commissioning this nonsense can go kick rocks!

Mark's picture
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I don't watch GL, but I just saw the scenes on YouTube. I agree that this was pretty stupid. I think it might've worked better if Justin Deas' character had asked if Tom and Margo were still together or something like that. That might've been a nice nod to him playing Tom in the past.

J Bernard Jones's picture
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Mandolin, a point of clarification is in order:

In regard to embedded product placement and promotions, not only has it been going on for years but viewers are quite used to it at this late stage of the game. Most prime time shows are awash in product placement: every scripted prime time show on the CW has some form of it (Smallville is a product placement lollapalooza), 30 Rock integrates product placement by making them running jokes within the premise of the series, everybody on 24 drives a Ford, Hiro & Ando obsessed over a Nissan Versa on Heroes and soaps have been integrating in-show promotions for ages. Going back a few years, the first modern day skirmish over product placement happened when Coke "bought in" to several episodes of Friends and a big ruckus ensued. These days, no one blinks an eye when tv characters go so far as to demonstrate the capabilities of a particular Verizon or Sprint cell phone in the middle of a conversation.

I'm assuming you are aware that the Campbell's Go Red balls on all the ABC soaps are as much product placement and promotion as whenever a character on a soap like Guiding Light used to mention watching CBS' CSI. To that end, the Proctor & Gamble soaps have been drowning in product placement long before Dinah developed a craving for Pringles. As the World Turns infamously had an on-the-run Dusty & Lucy sleep on a mattress made up of a palette of Bounty paper towels, and the convenience store featured on Guiding Light for the last several months is completely stocked with Proctor & Gamble goods. Hell, even GL's Remy has worn that big ass Tide t-shirt of his at least twice.

Therefore given your forensic explanation as to how product placement and in-show promotion works, I also trust you know that "soap operas" are by the very definition of the term the ultimate and most pervasive form of product placement and promotion in all of television. There were invented and specifically designed not to be some mass entertainment medium designed to please the fans, but as 15 and then 30 minute commercials designed to capture the eyeballs of housewives to pitch goods, with some drama thrown in the middle. Actors on shows like As the World Turns, A Flame in the Wind, or Faraway Hill would literally step out of a scene in character to extoll the virtues of Chipso hand soap, Ivory soap, or Dash laundry detergent. Soaps. Soap operas. This is where the name comes from and I am certain you appreciate that we fans of the pre-Coke/Friends - Ford/24 - Snapple/30 Rock - Stride Gum/Smallville - mid 1980's NBC sitcom crossovers to it's entire daytime lineup stunts have had longer exposure to and knowledge of how these things work than modern "mainstream" audiences who are just getting used to them.

Therefore, I humbly submit that if you read my piece in full, then you would know that AFTRA (and, not coincidentally, SAG) rules or the movement toward offsetting production & licensing costs through in-show product positioning opportunities and leveraging pre-existing audience venues as demographically calibrated promotional platforms was not and is not the issue that I addressed.

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The writers knew that by the time this show aired they would all be unemployed. I doubt that they cared enough to want to script something to promote other CBS shows themselves.

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Way to Go CBS. The Network That doesnt Care

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J. Bernard,

There actually was a show called "A Flame in the Wind"? That's too funny. Oh my. After a Google search, I found details on the show (the name of the show was changed to "A Time for Us"):

http://www.tv.com/a-flame-in-the-wind/show/14709/summary.html

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I am wondering if CBS daytime is really aware of the amount of viewers their going to lose when GL is gone, sure they were the lowest soap viewer wise but in the soap business now every viewer counts and if they continue to tick off the GL viewers their less likely to stick around for their other soaps, history has shown that when one soap on a lineup gets cancelled the rest of the lineup suffers.

Scott Novick's picture
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This is bad. Yes, GL 10+ years ago threw mentions of Y&R as a soap into the Clone Reva story - teenaged "Dolly" learned about life from watching TV and told Josh what she saw on Y&R involving Mrs. Chancellor and Jill - but that was just a cute bit attempting to add some levity to a controversial story. [Of course, things got complicated later when characters from Y&R crossed over with ATWT and vice versa, since ATWT and GL share the same fictional reality, but that's besides the point J Bernard is making.]

This, on the other hand, serves no one but Barbara Bloom and her bosses at CBS. "Hey, let's twist the knife by using the month of GL we have left to shill for our other shows." Real nice.

The decision to air LETS MAKE A DEAL in the GL time slot had not been made at the time this was taped, so references to that wouldn't show up in shows airing now unless they post-taped and edited. But I wouldn't be surprised to see, as J Bernard suspected here, some reference to DEAL to show up before Sept 18 after this.

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Bravo J. Bernard! Bravo! Encore! Encore!

daisyclover1938's picture
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Adding salt to the wound...these people are unbelievable

AlistairCrane's picture
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Not to nitpick, but Sunset Beach didn't debut on NBC till about four years after Santa Barbara had wrapped up.

Also, there could very well be a soap called As the World Turns in the CBS soaps universe---it simply wouldn't be the same As the World Turns that we watch.

And if we wanna talk meta-commentary, does anyone remember the episode of Passions where Kay and Zombie Charity are watching tv and we hear the Passions theme song/see the opening credits? hehe!

Also, Y&R, B&B, ATWT, GL, and Another World all take place in the same fictional universe.

J Bernard Jones's picture
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Alistaire, I was being sarcastic to make what should have been an obvious point. If I had been aiming for absolute accuracy, I would have said...

Or how about The City's Sydney Chase uttering, "Don't miss The View, which will premiere on August 11, 1997 and will be filming right here in our studios after the end of Caryl & Marilyn, which will have aired between June 6, 1996 and May 30, 1997, following a period of 135 days after the Happy Now Killer knocks me off on March 28, 1997!"

... but I didn't.

Furthermore (since you aren't being nit picky), whether there was meta-commentary about a fictional As the World Turns or not completely misses the point, perhaps deliberately so in an attempt to be clever. Entertainment has long been self-reflexive and self-aware; I alluded to this fact quite clearly or did you not read the sentence where I said...

Sure, other shows have namechecked each other but that was within the context of their own universes, not to obliterate decades-long connections altogether.

In the context of how the scene played out on GL's Friday episode, the execution had the effect of name checking the schedule, not providing one iota of ironic meta-commentary.

Finally, not to be nitpicky or anything, but Y&R, B&B, ATWT, AW, Somerset, Texas, Lovers & Friends/For Richer For Poorer, and The Edge of Night all take place in the same fictional universe.

None of this has anything to do with what I actually wrote.

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" is monumentally stupid: by name-checking ATWT as a fictional soap opera, whoever wrote that steaming pile didn't seem to know or care that that show's fictional locale of Oakdale shares the same fictional universe as GL's Springfield."

That's ridiculous. That would be like someone on AMC referring to GH as a fictional soap opera and mentioning Luke even though characters like Anna and Skye have lived in both Pine Valley and Port Charles.

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J Bernard U r spot on again my friend

AlistairCrane's picture
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So was it weird when, on B&B, Amber said her mom had moved to Harmony when Andrea Evans went to Passions as Rebecca?

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Ugh, that was horrible. Was CBS hoping to attract viewers of "GL" to "ATWT?" Dumbass move and just another slap in the face of "GL" and what it once was. Tacky.

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No The Passions Ref on BB was Funny plus neither of those shows were canceled at the time.

This right here is tacky & tasteless

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JBJ;

I have no argument with the points you make - and am well aware of the history of soap operas serving as a platform to sell product.
I am not completely versed in the details of what actors are contractually obligated to do ,on soaps or primetime. But I do know that embedded product placement and
pseudo-endorsement of products by actors was a big issue in the last round of AFTRA contract talks. It was accepted and many were none too happy about it, to say the least.
Your article brought the issue to mind to me . All the soaps , and many primetime shows ( esp. on mini networks such as CW and the like , though i don't know which ones specifically,for sure) are AFTRA run shows, so it's worth mentioning.

My point was really that -it's too bad- these commercial elements that challenge our suspension of disbelief are in shows at all. Mentioning a game show or another soap from the same network in passing is not the best soap writing can be, and obviously was from an demand or order from higher ups that writers had to shoehorn into a show. Having to fit in a commercial agenda that isn' t essential to the story being told, points to part of soaps' sorry state..
I don't remember any of this kind of thing ten years ago , at least not as obvious.
There may be Some small connection to this and the many viewers how watch less and less tv...
I tried watching GL with it's new style, at the start ,but gave up on it cause it was ...so much of a work-in-progress.
Though I remember it's heydays and when it was excellent, there was none better.

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Hey, while we canceled the oldest soap in tv history, how about tuning into "Lets Make a Deal", hey, it better than airing informationals and crap.

Yeah, to rub salt in the fans faces. Sad(