CBS will retire the long-running soap opera As the World Turns with its last episode to air next September. The announcement was made after the show broadcast its 13,661st episode. This marks the second daytime drama that the network has canceled in a year. CBS also cancelled Guiding Light. Both soaps were the last two dramas produced by a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, the company for which the term “soap operas” was created because it used the shows to hawk products like Ivory soap and Duz. The cancellation of As the World Turns ends Procter & Gamble’s involvement in daytime drama after a 76-year run.
According to reports, soap operas have been fading in recent years thanks in part for its traditional audience of women joining the work force along with an increased number of alternative offerings like the Internet, reality TV and 24-hour news channels. Due to economic instability, the cost of paying casts, producers and a stable of writers has been proved prohibitive.
After As the World Turns ends its run, CBS will be left with two daytime dramas: The Young and the Restless and The Bold and Beautiful. ABC currently has three dramas and NCB only has one.
The show follows families in the Illinois town of Oakdale. Through the years, actors Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey and James Earl Jones have all appeared on As the World Turns.
“It’s a hell of a Christmas present,” said actress Eileen Fulton, who will mark 50 years playing the character Lisa Grimaldi on the show. Her character has been through nine marriages and Fulton was hoping for a 10th before the signoff.
“I’m just very sad,” she said. “I’m sad for all of the people who work out there in Brooklyn (where the show is filmed). We’re a family. I hate to be split up. It’s like a divorce.”
Brian Cahill, senior vice president and managing director of the P&G subsidiary TeleNext Media Inc., said the company is actively seeking a new outlet to carry the show.
TeleNext said the same thing about “Guiding Light,” which went off the air in September, but has been unable to find a new home. Keeping the show alive online has been discussed, but that’s an alternative where cost may prove prohibitive.
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