Thursday, May 26, 2011

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same...

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same...
By Nelson Aspen

I work in International TV news. I don't always get to choose the stories I report... I take assignments and pitch others. But over the course of the last two weeks, the dominant coverage has not been the tornadoes in the midwest nor President Obama's declaration about MidEast borders. It hasn't even been Kim Kardashian's engagement! It has been, almost nonstop, the end of Oprah Winfrey's 25 year run on Daytime.

Many don't seem to realize that with OWN, her eponymous network, she's not really saying goodbye at all. In fact, she's increasing her omnipotence from 1 hour in the afternoon to 24 hours a day. Still, we can't help but wax nostalgic because of the very real "end of an era."

Daytime TV viewers are (especially recently) veterans of experiencing LOSS. In spite of DVRs and SOAPnet, soap opera fans have had to watch the decline and demise of their stalwart programming. Even if you're a CBS fan or "SAFE" die hard, you can't help but feel grief when all of Llanview and Pine Valley are euthanized. If you've never watched a serial drama in your life, chances are the sight of an hourglass or lighthouse makes you think of "soaps" before anything else.

So in watching the round-the-clock, multi-network coverage of Oprah's farewell, I can't help but be reminded of my late mentor Mary Stuart...who starred as "Joanne" for all 35 years of SEARCH FOR TOMORROW's run on daytime television (followed by a memorable run as "Meta" on GUIDING LIGHT). Her final words in the last episode of SFT, as she stared down the barrel of the camera for the FIRST time ever to directly thank the fans for those "wonderful years"...remind me that Oprah's farewell isn't a new thing. It's only new to our generation. The only thing new is that Oprah had a choice when to let the curtain fall. Mary, Larry Haines, Don Hastings, Victoria Wyndham, Eileen Fulton, Erika Slezak, Robin Strasser, Jerry verDorn, Susan Lucci and many others logged more Daytime TV calendar time than Oprah but certainly/collectively leave a similar void in popular culture.

"Until we meet again," Oprah uttered, as we all smiled back with misty eyes. She's honored her daytime (soap) peers throughout her career. I hope she'll remember them now with OWN....why not pick up where SOAPnet dropped the ball and rerun some of those classic series???

Just a thought.

International Entertainment & Lifestyles reporter Nelson Aspen began his TV career in daytime television, working on such classic soaps as SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, ANOTHER WORLD, LOVING and ONE LIFE TO LIVE.  He is also the author of several books which feature veterans from Daytime Television.  His latest, DINNER AT NELSON's, is available now on and includes conversations with an eclectic guest list of showbiz notables.  You may visit him at


  1. You need something do keep daytime viewers.I will be turning my TV off except for Y&R and General Hospital when they take AMC &OLTL off.I wath Days Of Our Lives on soapnet at night.So put on soaps and I'll be there faihfull.I'll put up with Dr Phil I don't like take nor Dr shows (I have my own Dr).So bput scripted day time viewing on!

  2. If you're a fan of classic soaps, please check out my books DINNER AT NELSON's, HOLLYWOOD INSIDER: EXPOSED and LET'S DISH UP A DINNER PARTY! (All available on amazon) Lots of beloved stars like Mary Stuart, Marcia McCabe, Philece Sampler, the DePaivas, Sherry Stringfield and many others are well represented!