On Sunday evening, 60 Minutes paid magnificent tribute to Guiding Light.
Viewers were treated to a retrospective segment featuring brief interviews with Tina Sloan, Frank Dicopolous, Ron Raines, Grant Aleksander, Michael O'Leary, Peter Simon, Beth Chamberlin, and of course, Robert Newman & Kim Zimmer. There was also a sure-to-be lambasted short sit down with Ellen Wheeler and GL's last de facto headwriter Jill Lorie Hurst, which will probably send ex-headwriter David Kriezman (now at As the World Turns) into a soap-style catatonic state.
In addition to a thumbnail history of Guiding Light, there were clips, clips, and more clips! We relived Nadine warning Vanessa about her pregnancy, Reva's attempted suicide attempt on the bridge, Coop dying, Ed and Rick consulting on a case, Tim Werner's alcoholism, Cyrus and Mel kissing and Phillip breaking the news of Lizzie's leukemia, among many others. There were shout outs to past before-they-were-stars GL alumni Calista Flockhart, Taye Diggs, Angela Bassett and Kevin Bacon. There was even a rare look at footage of an actual radio broadcast.
Of course, critics will have a field day blasting the piece for not including (unless I missed them) Charita Bauer (Bert Bauer), Michael Zaslow (Roger Thorpe) or Beverlee McKinsey (Alexandra Spaulding), among many others in the clip packages. Heads will be scratched over why Gina Tognoni, Crystal Chapell, Jessica Leccia, Daniel Cosgrove or many of GL's other past or recently present cast were not interviewed on camera. As sure as the sun will rise, Otalia fans will attempt to burn down CBS Broadcast Center for not mentioning the uber-popular couple at all.
Although I know this is folly to suggest, I hope that some fans who will no doubt be critical will remember that it is 60 Minutes and their producers which made the final decisions about what to air and not people associated with GL. If I have a personal quibble, I thought that correspondent Morley Safer's tone — while totally respectful & good natured — was just little too workman-like, but that is to be expected since it's not as if Safer is editor of Soap Opera Digest.
To be fair, I was completely skeptical that the segment would be full of scorn, that the piece would ultimately be an indictment against a dying genre and I said so in one of the comments sections here on Daytime Confidential. Safer's report was instead a simple, elegant profile of a 72 year-old institution that will be leaving the air soon. Never have I been so proud to eat crow.
Morely Safer and the producers of 60 Minutes' Guiding Light segment deserve to be applauded for paying tribute to the end of an institution on America's most prestigious television newsmagazine.
Guiding Light airs its final episode on September 18, 2009. Check your local CBS affliate listings.