On the October 12th episode of The Talk, the afternoon series welcomed stars from Guiding Light as part of a special broadcast honoring CBS Daytime’s 30 years as the number one daytime television network.
Iconic cast members: Kim Zimmer (Reva), Robert Newman (Josh), Beth Chamberlin (Beth) and Grant Aleksander (Phillip) were reunited before a live studio audience. Before their entrance, a short retrospective of GL clips was shown bringing the emotion and heart of what fans loved from the characters in Springfield for 56 years on television. It has been seven years since GL went off the air in 2009, but these actors and the characters they played have left an indelible impression for fans of the genre, and earned the respect of their peers.
Following their on stage segment, On-Air On-Soaps Michael Fairman sat down with Kim, Robert, Beth, and Grant for a heartfelt reunion, where the actor’s discussed life without the ‘Light’, being back together again for this special episode of The Talk, their legions of fans who miss GL every day, and what daytime soap still on the air would they like to appear on if given the opportunity. Here’s what they had to say!
Kim, I noticed when you walked out in front of the live studio audience at The Talk, who were standing on their feet and so happy to see you and the GL cast, you were crying. Obviously, it is and was so emotional for you. I was crying, too!
KIM: I’m always crying. I was crying on my pre-interview with the woman from The Talk that was pre-interviewing me! I said “I’m sorry; I just have to have a moment.” (Laughs)
Robert, when was the last time you had a sort of reunion with Kim?
ROBERT: The last time I saw Kim was when we did a production of Gypsy together a year ago. We didn’t talk the entire time during the production (Laughs). Well, I had a restraining order on her! (Laughs)
Is there still a feeling of emptiness for you every day that you are not going to work on Guiding Light, even though it has now been off the air for seven years?
KIM: We were talking about it in the dressing room, and Grant said it beautifully. We would have loved to have been those people like: Larry Gates (H.B,) and William Roerick (Henry), and Beverlee McKinsey (Alexandra) who grew old on the show and maybe then appeared on the show two or three times a month, and it would be great. I would then have the opportunity to continue doing theater, and still be able to make appearances. and mentor younger actors.
Could you ever foresee Guiding Light in some form, ever coming back in an online version?
GRANT: It’s incredibly doable to do these shows again on the web and at a fraction of what they originally cost, but again it’s the elephant in the room with P&G, and the rights.
Grant, you were the golden boy of Guiding Light, during your run as Phillip Spaulding. What storylines were most memorable for you looking back?
GRANT: I think we would all probably agree we don’t see things as they are happening, but in the rear-view mirror. What was really well-written, and it was springboard to everything else, was the first story I did, but I also think the leukemia story was wonderfully written, and it is all about the writing. If the writing is good, you can get a lot of people to do these roles effectively. We all got very lucky being in the right place at the right time, and made the most of it.
BETH: A young Hayden Panettiere was fantastic in the storyline as Lizzie.
On The Talk, the iconic “Slut of Springfield” clip was shown. It’s still one of the greatest soap moments of all-time and holds up among the best of the best to this day. What were your thoughts when you saw the scene being played on national television so many years later?
ROBERT: I think back to the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof story, where Josh was in a wheelchair, and Reva had married H.B. But to me, that story solidified Josh and Reva as this big thing. I think it propelled us to a different level, and it was gorgeous storyline.
BETH: When you were talking about the writing, I think of Downton Abbey’s whose first season was fabulous. But frankly, as it went on I felt it wasn’t great story. Our writers wrote great story day after day on Guiding Light. They were not just writing an arc for 12 episodes. It really gave me a great appreciation for the great soap writers and what they could do and churn out all of that material all of the time.
Kim, you were always vocal about the good storylines they threw your way and the bad … looking back on it now, do you think the bad were that bad? (Laughs) Yes, I know there was the clone!
KIM: Even the bad stories were challenging and that’d why we do this, because we love to be challenged. I used to say, “It’s my job to make the s**t smell like roses” That was rare that it was really stinky, but when it was …
BETH … Sometimes it was fun though, because you get a rush as an actress and you say, “If I can buy into it, then the audience will believe it” Now in New York for us actors, there are not any soaps, so now I am doing more primetime guest spots. You realize how you got addicted to the pace of daytime, because primetime is so slow.
KIM: I am so much more fulfilled doing theatre. I did Wicked and I have been systemically checking out all the theatrical roles I have always wanted to do. I have about five left they include: Mame, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff?
For each of you, with four network daytime dramas left on the air, which soap would you most like to do if a part were to come up that would be up your alley?
KIM: I would love to work with Bradley Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B). I think he is incredible. Fan have written to me saying I would make a great sister to Sally Spectra (the late Darlene Conley). They say “That would be a perfect fit for you,” or even Sally Spectra! I think the character is still alive. It would be hard shoes to step into, but I could see myself playing Sally’s sister!
BETH: I have to say, I think for me, Y&R, because of new executive producer Mal Young’s background coming from the BBC. It is very intriguing to me and the way that they do soaps over in the UK. I think it’s really interesting, and I think it’s going to be really exciting to watch Y&R.
ROBERT: Y&R seems to be the closest to Guiding Light, a show that is driven by family-oriented drama. I felt like the best stuff we did on GL, and yes there were the gimmicky stories we did, and the –not-so gimmicky like when we told a cancer storyline. But at the core of it, Guiding Light was about family – brother to brother, father to son, husband and wife, and sister to sister. I feel like Y&R hits on all of those.
GRANT: I think for me any of them for a short arc or as a new character, because they have a pretty good idea of what they want to do, who you are, and what you want to accomplish. When you are on a soap long term the things you tend to fight on a soap after awhile is they don’t know where they want to take you, or what they want to do. But, I love this medium and I love the workload if it. I think I would enjoy doing an arc on any of them.
Seeing you all together meant so much too so many people watching at home, those of us here with you today, and those who will be reading this. Guiding Light is forever in all of our hearts. What do you want the fans to know right now?
KIM: We want the fans to know that we are OK, and we hope they are too! We met some really emotional fans when we did the So Long Springfield Tour that were devastated. It was just so hard to talk with them, because they were worried about us, and they were worried about themselves, and about filling that hour in their life every day. It was sad.
ROBERT: It’s amazing how many times when I am somewhere in the country or walking down the street, how fans come up to me and get so weepy about it. Sometimes they will ask me, ‘What are Josh and Reva doing today?” As if in their own mind their story has continued, but they don’t get to watch it anymore. I think that is what makes it so frustrating for them that they want to know what is happening to these characters. I am also grateful that we have left a lasting memory with them.
So, what did you think of what Kim, Robert, Beth and Grant has to say about being back together again and thinking back at their time on Guiding Light? Were you moved to tears watching the GL stars on The Talk? Would you like to see Kim on B&B, Robert and Beth on Y&R, and Grant do a guest star turn on anyone of the four soaps? If so, what role would you cast them in on your favorite daytime drama? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!