An Open Letter to Barbara Bloom



Dear Ms. Bloom,

On October 5, 2009, your network — CBS — will premiere a new version of the classic game show Let's Make a Deal as a replacement for the now canceled Guiding Light. To put it bluntly, I will not be watching.

You might be surprised by my reasons. Though in the grand scheme of things, you might not care. As a 44 year old Black man, I don't fit any demos that CBS or its advertisers care one whit about — though you ought to care about every viewer in these trying times for the networks. Nonetheless, you should know that I do not share the pitchfork & torches anger of the more vociferous Guiding Light's fans, who have vowed to never watch CBS daytime, or any show on the entire network, ever again.

Boycotting CBS is obviously their choice, but it strikes me as overkill. I don't feel the need to "punish" the cast & crews of The New Adventures of Old Christine or NCIS: Los Angeles, nor deprive myself of the pleasures of The Big Bang Theory or late night's funniest man, Craig Ferguson, all because CBS canceled a daytime serial that had been rumored to be headed to the chopping block due to low ratings for quite some time.

I am also not interested in shaking a finger and yelling at Les Moonves, Brian T. Cahill or the much maligned Ellen Wheeler for "ruining" Guiding Light any more than all that you have seen & heard already. That horse has most assuredly died and it makes no sense to beat it any further.

What I do think you should know is that I have been an off and on viewer Guiding Light since the 1970's. I officially became a fan in mid-1980's and have stuck with the show faithfully since the early 90's. That latter arc of time accounts for close to twenty years of weekday loyalty to the lives & loves of the citizens of Springfield — and San Cristobel for a good stretch — in an increasingly cluttered television landscape of court and talk shows and cable channels. 

Despite the availability of vast entertainment choices, nothing made me less interested in the trials and tribulations of the Lewises, Spauldings, Chamberlains, Boudreaux, Grants, Reardons, Santoses or Bauers. I kept watching GL through misguided producers, bad writers, inconsistent location shooting and shaky cams to glean those moments of humanity, heart, soul and the celebration of family. Through times mundane and extraordinary, that was the hallmark of GL at its best. Indeed, I championed GL right here on Daytime Confidential when much of the justified criticism against it was at its harshest. In that light ,Ms. Bloom, I am hardly what you might think of one of those "disgruntled" fans with an ax to grind.

As the show comes to its now inevitable conclusion, I am sad but not angry, disappointed but not upset. The fact of the matter is that with its dreadful ratings and demographic performance, it is a miracle Guiding Light wasn't axed half a decade ago. Though I, and the legions of fans the show still has left, wish it could continue in some form or other venue, the fact remains that 72 years of broadcast on radio and television is an astounding feat in which we can take some solace, whatever cold comfort that might be. Sadly, all of this brings me to explain why I will not be watching Let's Make A Deal.

You see Ms. Bloom, I know what CBS is doing with this misguided game show revival. You're pulling what I euphemistically call "a Jay Leno." For years, NBC hasn't been able to produce a credible hit show at 10 p.m. and, instead of doubling and tripling their efforts to do better, Jeff Zucker & the dreadfully inept Ben Silverman threw up their hands and gave up. So The Jay Leno Show gets 5 hours a week in prime time and — even if the ratings fall into the toilet compared to the programming that previously aired at 10 o'clock  — NBC gets to declare "victory" because they have saved tens of millions in production costs and licensing fees.

So, too, is the decision to bring back a cheesy game show with the affable but hardly barn burning Wayne Brady as host. After all, CBS is keeping that afternoon spot for itself as opposed to ceding that hour to its afilliates. Like with Leno, even if LMAD brings in as few or possibly fewer viewers than the more expensive to produce Guiding Light, CBS still stands to profit off the cheap production costs. There is just one little hitch to what probably looks good on paper and tested well enough for you to give it the green light. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.


Comments

ldylkng's picture
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Amen & Amen !!!

craigcp's picture
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You hit the nail right on the head on how GL fans have been felt and treated; I too will not watch Let's Make a Deal watch GH. My mom been watching it since it began on TV I've been watcing it since the the '80s when it was real good. Started watching it when I was in the hospitol for 2 wks; the nurses would come to my room and watch GL on their lunch break, got to meet nurses thanks to GL dated a few and still keep in touch, they too are sadden about GL.

Beer Did you know that James Earl Jones was the first African American to appear in a soap, and it was GL then ATWT. It's a damm shame how the networks don't care about soaps anymore or there history. If MLD succeeds then other soaps that are canceled will be replaced by some stupid shit like that or worse a full hour of B&B, talk shows or reality shows. I don't think the netowrks care what we say it goes in one ear and out the other unless we wiggle a dollar bill over there heads then they'll bark like a dog.
http://movies.msn.com/celebrities/celebrity-biography/james-earl-jones/

troymcclure's picture
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25 December 2008
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Excellent letter J Bernard. You write so well and you made so many good points.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who find Grey's Anatomy dreadful.

I will not watch LMD, not even if they paid me, would watch that crap. I was gonna do a full on CBS boycott but I think I'm gonna show my support for ATWT any way I can.

Member since:
11 April 2009
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12 min 57 sec

Great article. Liked your points about being an unwanted demographic.

My 5 hours of GL time will not be wasted on LMAD. No ill will towards the cast and crew of LMAD but why would I switch watching from GL to a game show that I couldn't stand in any of its previous incarnations?

(Yeah, I lost interest in "Grey's Anatomy" after the show fired Isaiah Washington. I understand that he needed to be disciplined but the show fell apart for me. Christina (Sandra Oh) and Burke were incredible together.)

Member since:
25 February 2009
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Yup. Very valid points. By watching GL, I have been 'in tune' with the entire CBS lineup (daytime, primetime, Katie Couric, Late Night guest lineup, etc etc). I was thinking the same thing the other day, that when GL comes off of my DVR, I won't have a single CBS daytime show on it. I won't see the upcoming promos for CBS shows that have prompted me to tune in to them from time to time...
I RARELY know what is happening on ABC or NBC, anymore than I know what is coming up on HGTV or TruTV...I just 'surf' to find something enjoyable....

AH well..

goodbye GL

TV Gord's picture
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18 February 2009
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A very good letter...but...

Looking at it from Bloom's point of view, I doubt she cares what soap fans think any more or less than what game show fans think. The bottom line is that game shows are cheaper. Sad, but true.

From my perspective, I am a fan of soaps, but I am also a fan of classic game shows, so I spend as much time on a couple of game show boards as I do on soap boards. While soap fans are outraged at GL's cancellation, game show fans are overjoyed to have another game show on network TV. So, while a heartfelt letter from a soap fan might touch a network executive's heart (assuming she has one), she probably got a load of letters when Drew Carey took over The Price Is Right, too.

What I'm saying is...don't expect her to care. Network executives don't give a damn about what they're putting on the air. They only care that their advertisers buy time on the most cost-effective show as possible. Soaps are less and less cost-effective all the time.

Also, when the latest recession first hit, there were stories about how local car dealerships were withdrawing their advertising from daytime TV. Let's Make A Deal is a car dealer's dream. There are all sorts of opportunity for cross-promotion. Jay Leno, incidentally, has a race track on his new set so celebrities can race in environmental cars. Is he doing it to promote environmentalism? Of course not. NBC has a deal with some car maker to cross-promote.

The big downfall for many soap fans is that they think emotionless network executives can be convinced ON AN EMOTIONAL LEVEL that they are making a mistake. Well, emotions mean nothing to them OR their shareholders.

The cold, hard fact is that fewer and fewer of us are watching soaps. I personally believe TIIC have been driving away those of us who remain with their crappier and crappier writing and plotting (or should I say PLODDING!). No one outside the soap world would ever accuse networks of being stupid for cancelling a soap today. They are financially unviable.

I feel awful for my soapfan friends who watched GL, but I'm happy for my game show friends (although I won't be watching LMAD...I never liked it).

Frankly, I'm surprised CBS hasn't turned the hour over to affiliates so they could run more infomercials. THAT's where the money is these days!

Soap_Stud's picture
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I always wondered if the shows that replaced soaps had better ratings. I take it that the majority of them do not. I still think CBS should have cut GL and ATWT down to 30 mins. I think it would have worked. It would have cut costs and kept fans happier than they are now.

I am trying really hard not to be bitter about GL's final days and to focus on celebrating the soap that has given me so many years of entertainment.

Well written letter, btw.

TV Gord's picture
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Soap_Stud, cutting two soaps down to 30 minutes wouldn't have cut costs. They would still have to have the same sets and production costs and cast and crew. The only thing that would be different is that they would have HALF the advertising revenue coming in. How is that better?

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5 April 2008
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Well said, J. Bernard. I just cannot and never will get behind watching LMAD. It looks far too cheesy and silly. And you are right, it makes no sense to punish the other CBS shows. I too think The Good Wife will be interesting, and I enjoy Old Christine as well. I cannot tell you how I am dreading Sept. 18, it really does feel like someone I know is gonna die that day. Sad Me, my mother and sister...we already have the Kleenex ready.

Member since:
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I disagree that cutting each soap to a half hour would not have cut costs. If you can tape two shows in a day instead of just one, you can conceivably "go dark" for half a year and not incur any significant costs during that time. You shoot for two weeks, take off two weeks, shoot for two weeks, etc.

Also, I've often thought that the hour format was bad for soaps because the writers had to come up with twice as much material, which may have led to the more outlandish plots that became common beginning with the late 70s/early 80s.

I think a half-hour format would end up being better quality-wise and allow the writers a little breathing room to take time to develop better stories instead of constantly being under the gun to churn out material. Soaps could run with a smaller, tighter cast and production, which would also save money.

I also think a half-hour format may make it more likely for viewers to watch an additional soap or two. If ABC cut each soap to a half-hour, a viewer could get 3 shows for an hour and a half daily investment. Today, he or she would have to watch 3 hours a day, so most probably don't bother to watch more than one soap. However, if you can watch two additional shows for just a half hour more per day, maybe people would be more willing to experiment.

By the way, I'd like to take a second to thank all of you who have read my "Guiding Light" related articles over at www.ustownhall.com.

For those who haven't seen them, I recently covered the GL Paley Center event, and my reporting on it has received a lot of attention from around the web as it was one of the first published articles about that event. I also want to thank those of you who think my other GL article series -- the Retrospective Tribute to GL's 72 years has been informative and entertaining. I WILL get to the remaining chapters in that series, I promise.

However, you may want to keep checking www.ustownhall.com over the next few days as the first part of my in-depth interview with Crystal Chappell (Olivia) goes online. There will also be more GL goodies at the site over the next several weeks. GL may be gone, but it isn't dead yet!

Member since:
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Count me in as another that will not be watching this proven failure of a game show. The only thing that I will watch on CBS is my local news and the Y&R if I get home in time.

Smitty's picture
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30 March 2009
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J Bernard let me find out...

Loved this open letter!!!

I am a 26 year old male. I guess I fall into the demo that TPTB love and I turned GL off years ago! I believe when I was in college i just couldn't take watching that mess anymore. I blame them for letting writers and producers come and wreck the show. I loved GL during the 90s. During most of the school year that was the only soap I got to see since I was in school during the other soaps so I always looked forward to seeing what the Reardons, Coopers, Spaulding, Lewis, and Bauers where up to. I have tried several times to turn the show back on and get back into it but it was just so unrecoganizable safe for a few faces. GL has/had a rich history and it sucks that the hacks/writers turned this show into a hot a$$ mess. I just can't do it. It's so sad that GL will be going off the air in just two weeks but some part of me thinks its for the best because obviously TPTB didn't care about GL.

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I'm 25 so I fall into that all important category and GL was the only soap I watched on CBS I tried to get into Y&R after hearing how good it was but never was able to. So come Sept. 18 CBS daytime can count me out. I'll still watch that new Rivers show (only for Alex O'loughlin) but if that show's not any good then CBS can count me out as a viewer I simply don't enjoy their programs anymore I used to watch CBS when they had shows like Judging Amy or heck even Touched by an Angel but now that Grissom is gone from CSI I don't enjoy CBS, and I actually like some game shows but LMAD was never one I enjoyed I like game shows were you have to have some form of talent and LMAD wasnt one of those. So I know that one viewer might not count but I have a feeling their daytime lineup will suffer.

Member since:
4 April 2009
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I hate you Barbara Bloom and CBS I will never watch daytime or prime time again you heartless monsters. I hope Babs is fired and never finds work again and I could care less what happens to ATWT, Y&R, & B&B now I hope they all go up in smoke. I fell in love with GL as a child and came back in December 08 for Otalia and Crystal Chappell. I am a 32 year old straight woman and I am the demo they target an I am done done done with CBS you gutless punks. I will also find something else to do with my valuable time. I don't know if I will follow another soap again after this heartbreaker. It hurts to much!

Member since:
4 April 2009
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I hate you Barbara Bloom (you ugly B!) and CBS I will never watch daytime or prime time again you heartless monsters. I hope Babs is fired and never finds work again and I could care less what happens to ATWT, Y&R, & B&B now I hope they all go up in smoke. I fell in love with GL as a child and came back in December 08 for Otalia and Crystal Chappell. I am a 32 year old straight woman and I am the demo they target and I am done done done with CBS you gutless punks. I will also find something else to do with my valuable time. I don't know if I will follow another soap again after this heartbreaker. It hurts to much!

J Bernard Jones's picture
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9 September 2008
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 TV Gord,

I think I made just about all the points you made.

season1217's picture
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23 July 2008
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31 weeks 5 days

Craig Kilborn is still on television?

Scout's picture
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21 November 2008
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10 weeks 11 hours

Only in his mind! Big smile

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8 May 2008
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Barbara "Doom" is dooming the CBS soaps.

TV Gord's picture
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18 February 2009
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I guess my main point got lost in all of my hyperbole. Bloom and her ilk aren't listening to soap fans or game show fans or talk show fans. They're only listening to advertisers and anxiety-ridden affiliates. No offence, but while an open letter might play well to the message boarders, the only way it will have an impact on Barbara Bloom is if you buy two minutes of ad time and read it on CBS.

J Bernard Jones's picture
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9 September 2008
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TV Gord, your main point did not get lost; it was perfectly clear: you appear  to regard my "open letter" as an exercise in futility. However, truth be told, I was simply stating how I feel. Mine are, as generally all open letters tend to be, the reflection of the broad parameters of a particular point of view. 

Had I wished to try to influence Bloom, Moonves, Cahill, Telenext, CBS, Wheeler on the matter of Guiding Light or ATWT or other people — including fans in the soapverse — regarding the shows, I would have written pieces of praise, criticism, encouragement, or laid out positions that I would hope they might consider in terms of change. Oh wait....I've done plenty of that in examples that include but are not limited to here, here, here, here, here and — wait for it — here.


Sometimes there is an agenda; sometimes there is not one. Just about every point you made in your response I originally made in my "open letter", albeit differently. Your position appears to be that I meant it to reflect some kind of agenda in terms of "changing" Bloom's and her cohorts' minds when all it was merely meant to be is a sober reflection of how I feel about what's coming next without some of the wild histrionics we've heard from others. In GL's case, the die has been cast, the replacement named and life is moving on.

Part of the DNA of (soap) bloggers like me is to give our opinion, share our perspective (popular or not) or state our positions on matters, regardless of our potential to influence anyone. That's all I did.

TV Gord's picture
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In that case, it's a very good letter. Smile

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I hope that ATWT, B&B, and Y&R have VERY LONG successful continuing runs. I want the rest of my CBS soaps to succeed. Soaps have cycles. Sometimes they are brilliant, and other times they are weak.

All of those soaps employ many good actors, writers, and crew members. Most are middle and working class people with families, hopes, and dreams. I want these folks to continue be able to pay their mortgages, feed their families, and put their kids through school.

Do I care about the success of Let's Make a Deal? NO! I can't stand the show. But, I want my other CBS soaps to live on.

Losing GL is painful. I started watching it with my grandmother as child. I remember the 4 Musketeers, India, Lujack, Maeve, Reva's clone, and vile firing of Zaslow. And now here we are. I love the show now. It's not perfect but what is?

There are millions of people, my grandmother included, who watch ATWT, Y&R, and B&B. They are equally passionate about those shows. I don't want GL's horrible death to be the catalyst for a boycott of the rest CBS soaps.

If you're angry, take it out your anger on LMAD or some other part of CBS' programming, not the remaining soaps.

Member since:
23 March 2009
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TVGord, I agree with your post. There is no getting around that the soaps are no longer financially viable, the same goes for many prime time serials. The networks have to find cheaper programming to meet their bottom line. It is a tough situation to be in as a soap fan, but it is the reality.

Worldturner's picture
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10 December 2008
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Excellent letter J Bernard. You're so right about how having people stop watching daytime affects the nighttime viewing. I'm far more up to date on what is airing in prime time on CBS because I'm a loyal viewer of ATWT than I am on ABC or NBC. And yep I slow down those ff commercials when it looks interesting and like a show I might want to watch. I highly doubt they are thinking about the snowball effect this will have and instead are just looking at short term dollars and cents and not how long term it will affect those same dollars and cents.

They also need to stop being so narrow minded about the important demos. They're missing a lot of people who spend big bucks. And please I can't believe that Let's Make a Deal will be popular with the coveted demos.

I just hope people don't punish ATWT for what happened to GL. It seems like ATWT is really trying to turn things around. What the whole industry needs though are some forward thinkers to figure out how to make soaps viable today.

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5 July 2008
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10 hours 30 min

Okay sorry But thats not true LovesDog

Soaps of all type are not dying. Its the people running them that may want them dead but take a look at Brothers & Sisters, Mad Men, True Blood and Army wives all doing well so there are hopes

We just need people in charge who care. Thats why YR & OLTL are rockin because their producers & writers want them to succeed. We need more of those folks in daytime.

CGat's picture
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23 July 2008
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Amen, Amen, and Amen again.

"Let's Make a Deal": Gaining the solid viewership of doctor's offices and hospital waiting rooms since 2009. Joy.

Miry's picture
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30 October 2008
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GREAT letter JB!!
You write so eloquently... I just love it! ;-D
I will continue to look forward to your columns (& if it hasn't been said lately: you are really enjoyable on the podcasts and I am glad that you are a part of them).

Also, I agree with what you wrote, & I appreciate you giving me something else to think about... I had not even realized all of the adverts for Primetime line-ups that I would miss out on due to my no longer watching a particular hour of television; I like that you brought something new to my mind. TPTB really should think about what they are replacing these shows (soaps) with.

I wonder: How cool would it be if we got a new soap? There HAS to be a way to produce it cheaply from the start by having a small cast & using permanent sets, & perhaps only being 30 minutes long. I would watch it. I have never seen a soap from the start, so that would be something that I'd be interested in. At least until it started sucking.

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Submitted by josstheguy

(Yeah, I lost interest in "Grey's Anatomy" after the show fired Isaiah Washington. I understand that he needed to be disciplined but the show fell apart for me. Christina (Sandra Oh) and Burke were incredible together.)

--------

I think that's when I lost interest in the show as well. I just hated how they handled the whole wedding between Christina and Dr. Burke, and when he left the show, I felt a great loss. I don't agree with what the actor did, but he was still a great actor, and I think Dr. Burke was very important to the show.

I also didn't really like where they went with George's character. I found him much more likable and entertaining when he was kind of the bumbling BFF to all the ladies, but his character became so serious and subdued.

As for the topic at hand, great letter J Benard, it makes a whole lot of sense. The weird thing is, as poisonous as I think Brian Frons is at ABC, he does seem to promote the hell out of his daytime lineup.

traceymichelle's picture
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15 November 2007
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Well said! I can relate to knowing what primetime shows come on and when...I can tell you when CBS airs all sorts of shows because of the promos during my soaps. I also will not be watching the new game show (still scratching my head over that replacement choice). I'll be switching over to GH...I'm a soap opera kind of gal, not a game show one. If I wanted to watch games I'd switch over to the Game Show Network where they are already on 24/7. Your letter just hit everything in the right spot...great job!