Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guiding Light: What Happens Next?

Over the past several months I’ve been involved with a remarkable bunch of soap opera fans over on the Big Purple Dreams message board. When I joined this forum in January I became member number 78. This community now includes over 6,000 members who have become famous worldwide for their support of Guiding Light and the love story of Olivia & Natalia, played by Crystal Chappell & Jessica Leccia.

Yesterday, I watched an interview on CNNi with Crystal. The interviewer took note of Crystal’s enthusiastic fanbase, pointing out that her fans actually crashed the website as so many of them came to leave questions in hopes they might be included in this feature. These fans have campaigned tirelessly to try to save the show from cancellation, then to try to find a new home for the show on another network or perhaps on the internet. And finally, they campaigned to try to see their favorite stories find the happy ending they so hoped to see.

Tomorrow we’ll see the last episode of Guiding Light. My heart goes out to those who have been watching this show for most of their lives, to the actors, writers and crew members who have given us their best work (many for decades) to bring us this wonderfully refreshing show. I have thoroughly enjoyed the innovative and controversial production model that brought the viewers right into the middle of the scene and made us feel almost a part of the story. I will miss that because it is unlike anything being done by other soaps I watch. I have only been watching this show since February, but I soon felt like I was part of the Guiding Light family, too. I will miss it for all it was and might have been.

We will soon say goodbye to characters who have become like old friends to us and we will know if our favorites got that happy ending or not. My thoughts are with my 6,000+ Big Purple Dreamers, knowing that many didn’t see all they wanted to see in their favorite story. Some are bitter and angry about that, some poised to campaign for changes in the way same sex relationships are depicted on TV. But all are looking forward to the new webseries, “Venice” being produced by Crystal Chappell, written by Kim Turrisi, and directed by Hope Royaltey that has caught the attention of the media recently and created a lot of buzz around the internet. (I think Irna Phillips, creator of The Guiding Light, would be proud of Crystal for making this transition from television to the web.)

I know many fans feel overwhelmed by a mix of emotions, both happy and sad, as this great show goes off the air. Some have said they shared this show with their mothers and grandmothers and losing it is like losing them all over again. I didn’t watch Guiding Light with my mother, but I did find out that my grandmother used to listen to is on the radio. The show I watched with my mother was As The World Turns. A few months before her death I sat down with my mother and my sister to watch the ATWT 50th anniversary show, so I do understand what the loss of this show means to them.

At times when my heart has been overwhelmed with emotion and/or circumstance, this verse from the Bible often comes to mind:

"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name."
John 12: 27-28a

My own paraphrase is that when you feel overwhelmed, tempted to say "God, get me out of this!" could be that all that has you tied up in knots is the very reason you're there. Perhaps there is a purpose to it all.

Now I can’t say that God created The Guiding Light to be a literal beacon of love to the whole world. But I know that it has brightened lives and lightened the load of millions of viewers around the world throughout its long and storied run on radio and television. I know that about 6,000 people now consider themselves to be part of a Big Purple family that didn’t even exist a year ago. Many lives have been changed and friendships have been formed as we have leaned on each other, given and received encouragement and fought for a common cause.

As you look at where you’ve been and what happens next, let me encourage you to look for what is positive...constructive...empowering…uplifting...and then you'll see the next step to take. I have a feeling that many more lives will be touched by the stories yet to be told by Crystal, Kimmy & Hope.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Afterglow Lives On

I watched the Daytime Emmys and I have mixed emotions about it all. I agree with many reviewers that I would have preferred less of some things and more of others, but after all it took to get this awards show on the air I was just grateful to be able to see it at all.

The opening number was a lot of fun and I appreciate the fact that the Otalia scene was the only one that did not include an award nominee. It still would have been nice to get a reaction shot of Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia, though.

The Guiding Light tribute was too short and I understand it was actually edited down because they were running short on time. Seems a shame to do that to something that has become an American institution. I was glad to see all the cast members on stage and would have loved to have heard a few words from them, too, instead of the abrupt cut to commercial.

Some reviewers have complained that there were too many shots of the audience and too few of the cast. But it was wonderful to see all of the audience, filled with soap actors, producers, etc. standing to their feet and giving such an emotion-filled ovation to their colleagues on stage. I noticed more than a few tear-filled eyes in the crowd. And I'm so glad they got a shot of Kim Zimmer, giving her two-fisted thumbs up to them all while saying "Keep alive! Keep alive!" Everyone knows the genre is changing and perhaps dying if it doesn't evolve.

By the way, the original, four minute version of the Guiding Light video tribute can be found here: Michael Fairman Soaps It bothers me that apparently Blake was left out, though, because she's one of my favorite characters these days.

I loved Betty White's speech that ended with these words: "Its light may be dimmed but its afterglow will live on." I was thinking about that and made a new design for my Zazzle shop (other variations are available):