Guiding Light’s final farewell and the impact on its actors and the audience is featured in a wonderful article out today in The New York Times, titled : After 72 Years Springfield Gets a Stop Sign
Here are some excerpts below… one about Robert Newman and excerpts following that from executive producer, Ellen Wheeler.
EMOTIONS are an actor’s currency, but on this day in early August, Robert Newman was coming up empty. He sat slumped in a chair in his nearly vacant dressing room at the CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Cartons with his name scrawled on them were stacked in the corridor. His colleagues, some of whom he had worked with for decades, were all packing up as well. “I shot my last scene in the studio an hour ago,” he said, then paused and studied his hands, clasped in his lap. “I don’t know how I feel.”
For most of the last 28 years Mr. Newman has been known to millions of “Guiding Light” viewers as Josh Lewis, half of one of the soap opera’s most popular couples. But on Sept. 18 he will be out of his longtime gig, along with more than 150 other cast and crew members. Their jobs may be more glamorous than most, but ultimately they are not much different from millions of other workers who have recently watched their employers go bust. “What it really comes down to is the people I’ve worked with. We’ve shared so much for so long,” Mr. Newman said, “and we’re all going in different directions.”
In recent years the executive producer, Ellen Wheeler, tried to resuscitate “Guiding Light” by experimenting with freehand cameras to break with the conventional soap-opera look. Ratings continued to decline, but Ms. Wheeler, an Emmy-winning former soap actress herself who came to “Guiding Light” in 2004, said she believes that without those changes the show might have died even sooner.
“We didn’t change the stories that we told or the relationships between the characters, all the good parts of what is soap opera that we brought with us,” she said. “We just tried to look at how we could make those stories even closer for the audience.” Reaction was mixed, but Ms. Wheeler said fans communicated to her that they liked the changes.