Sunday, September 13, 2009

News Round-up: GUIDING LIGHT, Evans, Villains

Fans bid farewell to beloved GUIDING LIGHT
While soaps like GUIDING LIGHT are routinely dismissed in popular culture, stereotyped as programs with preposterous storylines and pitiful acting, the stories told on daytime television also present some entertaining, occasionally inventive work that doesn't always get the attention it deserves, says Roger Newcomb, editor of

"The stories are really about people communicating, sharing their feelings," Newcomb says. "Soaps are never going to be able to tell an action adventure story as well as the prime-time shows or at the movies - they don't have the budgets. But what they can do better than anybody else is tell a story."

NEW YORK POST: Greatest moments of GUIDING LIGHT
As fans prepare to say goodbye to this TV icon, the New York Post looks back at some of the highlights (and lowlights) of the longest-running continuing saga in recorded history.

GUIDING LIGHT fades off the air
Lesbian kisses and social consciousness were not on the mind of Procter & Gamble when it developed GUIDING LIGHT and other soaps as a marketing tool to draw in housewives who do the family shopping. The shows were basically a backdrop for commercials for soap and other household products, and according to Robert C. Allen, author of “Speaking of Soap Operas,” “They're probably the most successfulbroadcast advertising vehicle ever devised.”

Allen, a professor in the American Studies Program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, adds, “If you had a time capsule, and you could put only a couple examples of commercial broadcasting in the time capsule, to represent its success in reaching a particular audience demographic, you would have to have a soap opera in the time capsule because they were the most cost-effective way of reaching women between 18 and 39 years old from the 1930s through, certainly, the 1980s and 1990s.”

Dicopoulos loses guiding light
"It's very difficult, very sad," said Frank Dicopoulos, who grew up as Frank Dickos before changing his name from its Americanized version to the Greek original. He got the bad news when executive producer Ellen Wheeler called on April Fool's Day.

"It made no sense to me whatsoever," he said. "I'm kinda frustrated and kinda angry and kinda upset."

Fans waiting for the last flicker of GUIDING LIGHT
Paula Treichler, professor emerita at the University of Illinois’ College of Media at Champaign-Urbana, said there could be several reasons for the demise of the show, which is owned by Procter & Gamble.

Up until about 20 years ago, soap operas (a term coined when the dramas were sponsored by soap manufacturers) had a “pretty reliable audience,” made up of women who didn’t work outside the home and college students. However, that viewership became fragmented when more and more women entered the workforce.

“There really is no solid, predictable audience for anything, unless you count kids who are watching on computers,” Treichler said, pointing out that even primetime serials are struggling.

Don't miss the GUIDING LIGHT segment on 60 MINUTES tonight on CBS.

"My Big Gay Italian Wedding": The toast of the St. George Theatre
You gotta figure a wedding is going to be special when the mother of the groom arrives in a Tina Turner wig and white go-go boots. Throw in a nouveau version of the Chicken Dance with a 'lay-the-egg move' and you're looking at a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And so it was for the 1,300 "guests" at "My Big Gay Italian Wedding," the laughter-up-to-the-rafters comedy that went up Saturday night in the St. George Theatre.

Grant City playwright Anthony Wilkinson dreamt up the semi-autobiographical show and stars. His character, also named Anthony, but pronounced Ant-nee, is in love with a stud named Andrew Polinski (ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Scott Evans). The Italian Pinnunziato family doesn't fret because their boy is marrying another man, only that he's marrying a Pole.

There were a few technical glitches with the sound at the St. George and there may have been one too many dance interludes between scenes. But those seem like minor kinks that can be worked out. No doubt, "My Big Gay Italian Wedding" is an invitation worth accepting.

Television's Three Best Villains
What hasn’t changed over time is that for today’s producers and writers, women still make more exciting villains on television than their male counterparts.

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