For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a soap opera buff. I’ve joined soap fan clubs (and even started one) and attended the Daytime Emmy Awards many times.
Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of attending “Good-bye to Guiding Light, 72 Years Young” at the Paley Center for Media.
The longest-running program in broadcast history, “Guiding Light” takes its final bow on September 18th. Several GL cast members and 100+ fans were on hand for an engaging panel discussion about the show and its lasting contribution to television.
Participating in the conversation were four-time Emmy winner Kim Zimmer (Reva), Grant Aleksander (Phillip), Bradley Cole (Jeffrey), Elizabeth Keifer (Blake), Michael O’Leary (Rick), head writer Jill Lorie Hurst and executive producer Ellen Wheeler.
After a retrospective video montage, moderator and Paley Center curator Ron Simon asked the panelists about their experiences on GL. Everyone spoke with great candor and heartfelt feeling, expressing what it’s meant to be part of such a beloved show.
“I’ve always bragged that I’ve met five generations of Guiding Light viewers. This is our little heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation,” said Zimmer, who’s played Reva on and off for 26 years.
GL’s multi-generational appeal and unparalleled knack for integrating cast members of all ages was one of the main topics of the night.
Head writer Hurst shared that she came to “Guiding Light” as someone who’d watched the show from the age of 3 with her mother and grandmothers.
When asked about the 80’s — widely considered to be the heyday of soaps — everyone agreed it was a magical time.
“It was great–big hair, big earrings, big shoulder pads,” Zimmer quipped. “There was nothing they wouldn’t spend money on,” she added, speaking fondly of lavish location shoots that were a lot less common during the 90’s.
“We didn’t know we were arriving for the pinnacle,” said Aleksander, who joined GL in the 80’s. “It was the Great Gatsby of our medium.”
Up next…mingling with the GL cast and a look at the role of fate in romance.