Just wanted to share what I wrote on my blog for GL's anniversary that was January 25. I take a look back at the "good ole days" online. Instead of putting a link, I'm c&ping.
For some soap fans (past and present), today is an important day as it is the anniversary of the first radio episode of The Guiding Light that aired on January 25, 1937. Back in 1997, 14 years ago GL did some special things promoting this anniversary online. I wanted to share those memories in this entry. This entry was borne due to how I felt the need last night to find my transcript of the GL radio show they did back all those years ago. Since I took the time to find the paperwork, I decided to blog about it.
While it was only 14 years ago, the Internet was a very different place in 1997. Dial up service was the norm unless one was accessing the web from a business or a school. Less than three months earlier AOL finally gave unlimited access, before that point, it was $20 a month for 20 hours of access. The other services had similar plans. Soap Opera Digest had a section they paid for at AOL that included message boards and chat. They interviewed people and put all the covers that GL actors appeared on in a forum. I have a floppy disk or two with the cover photos, and print outs of the commentary. I located them last night, but what was hilarious is they don’t state who was quoted. One of these days, I am going to play the guessing game to figure it out, though thankfully I have a press kit for the 60th Anniversary, which I got it off eBay for a ridiculously cheap amount in 1999 or so, and that has all the actor bios from that time frame.
For this particular anniversary, while they were taping the gala scenes one of the SOD editors camped out in their green room. The chat literally lasted all day, I logged on after GL ended in the morning (11 am) and stayed on until dinner. It became an experience of “are you done yet” as I was asked that question for at least two hours as the computer was set up by the kitchen table. The chat went from multiple rooms with hundreds of people to about 20 or so chatters. About a dozen different actors stopped in and answered questions, which was great. Unfortunately I didn’t find a typed transcript of this chat in my files though considering how many hours it went that’s sort of understandable. The idea of this concept today is kind of daft, and even at the time I was shocked it went as long as it did. Earlier that week oddly enough there had been a fire in the building that the show was being filmed at so everyone was evacuated. CNN Headline News (I think it was Headline News) had a crew and around the 25th they showed behind the scenes clips of the show in the middle of the night. They didn’t show the same clip every hour, so the VCR ran all night to make sure I got all of it. Where that VHS tape is in my collection remains a mystery.
Later that month, there was an event at the Museum of Television and Radio, which is what we now call the Paley Center. That particular night, they were trying to emulate the good old days with a broadcast. The current cast of the show got dressed up while some of them read aloud an old episode of the show. I was at a friend’s house that night and we sat around her computer listening to the episode like people sat in front of the radio. It was kind of nerve-racking at the time, as we had no idea it would even work. Now people have radio shows every day online. Back then having an audio broadcast over the web was unique, and it was done via Live Real Audio. I don’t have an electronic file of the program, but a cassette tape, which I couldn’t find. What I did find was a print out of the script used. It states the event was held, and the actors involved in the broadcast. The only media coverage I have of the anniversary readily available was a snippet from People magazine and a torn out page of what seems to be DaytimeTV as it is a black and white 8.5 x 11 sheet, but more on these items later.
The 60th Anniversary radio show was broadcast on the 16th of January 1997, and I printed it out on the 18th of that month. I cannot recall whether or not I had a script and read along, but due to the date of my print out, I kind of doubt that I did. Mark McEwen who was the weatherman on CBS in the mornings was the host. He also appeared on GL for a short time as a game show host in 1994. The episode that was presented was the sixteenth show that ran on the radio on February 15, 1937. It began with organ music, then the poem, and finally a summary of what had been going on prior to this episode in Five Points, which according to the script was a “cosmopolitan city” in a “melting pot district”. How the action was summarized at the beginning sort of reminded me of what they do now with Glee, which kind of made me laugh. I knew I recognized that from somewhere. At the end of the episode, they also had a tune in tomorrow preview and a reminder when it would be on again. See even back then “spoilers” existed and if you watched the program you couldn’t be spoiler free, sorry.
Reading this script is kind of funny and my print out was 11 pages. Also the casting isn’t fully what one may expect. There were only seven roles on this episode.
Reverend Ruthledge who to some was seen as the first Guiding Light as a person, and not a lamp or a lighthouse was read by Michael Zaslow aka Roger Thorpe, the villain of the program for many years. The characters of Ned and Mary were played by Robert Newman and Maureen Garrett aka Josh and Holly. After hearing this broadcast, I always wondered why GL never went there. Ned and Mary were the Reverend’s kids though they were not biologically related. During the course of the series, they fell in love became a popular couple. Lisa Brown (Nola) played Ellen the housekeeper who serves coffee, and considering scenes of Nola running Company this was not much of a stretch. Liz Keifer (Blake) played Kathleen a parishioner of Dr. Ruthledge’s whose mother is sick. She has an Irish accent in this, and I recall a story which made me laugh out loud about how she went to an Irish pub and asked a waitress to say her lines into a tape recorder so she would sound right. Ned flirts with Kathleen during this segment, but other than a few of episodes in 2009, nothing ever came about with Josh and Blake either. Rounding out the cast were Jerry verDorn (Ross) as the announcer who got to do the poem and the episode summary and Kim Zimmer (Reva) who according to the script was the commercial spokesperson doing the in show adverts.
The discussion among Ned, Mary, Ellen and the Reverend is about a flood. Ned left to help out and they mention people donating money to the Red Cross to help, the Reverend is mentioned in the script as Doc, and Doc says this about America: “We Americans have a way of making a comeback. The power of the American to recuperate is amazing – sometimes, almost unbelievable. Americans- it’s a great word, you know.” That quote reminds me of a campaign speech. The Reverend left to go with Kathleen, as did Ellen. Then Ned and Mary spoke and it seemed like Ned was jealous of Mary’s interest in a guy named Ellis Smith, that we were told in the opening was really the rich Gordon Ellis.
The two articles I mentioned earlier in my entry had different focal points. People talked to Zimmer and verDorn and shared a photo of them with Newman blowing on a birthday cake. They were all in the garb worn for the Cedars anniversary party. KZ was in a red Reva dress and the guys were in black tie. DaytimeTV had photos from the night at MTR (now Paley Center). There is a photo of Mary Stuart (Meta) and how the magazine believes she helped bring class back to Springfield. There is a photo of Grant Aleksander (Phillip) and Michael O’Leary (Rick) that talks about how great that they are back and relieving the past history they share. Another photo is of Keifer and verDorn in retro clothing, he’s kissing her check and how Blake and Ross were on the rocks, though this did not mean they didn't have fun at the party. On the second page there is a shot of Toby Poser (Amanda), which touches on if the House of Spaulding will ever be the same and how gorgeous she looked at the event. The shot of Newman and Zimmer mentioned how Josh and Reva sizzle, how the audience wants the characters reunited and they wonder how Annie will get her comeuppance.
So that’s my remembrance, I felt the need to do today. Sometime it is good to mentally stroll through my memory banks and think about another time and place. Internet life may have been slower in those days, but it did not lack charm and excitement.
Zaslow was likely exhibiting symptoms in this reading - he'd last appear on the show in April.
It's strange that my beginnings with GL internet fandom were in the same year ('97, starting with the mediadomain discussion board) I associate with 'the beginning of the end' of the show (the time between Zaslow's firing in '97 and the near-total-show-revamp of '99 where Springfield was besieged by Santoses and San Cristobel... kind of a dead zone of mediocrity, most notable for the awfulness of Parlato's time with the show... oh, there was the Josh/Reva/Annie stuff... that was fun...).
Sure would have been nice to have had an internet community to chat with back when the show was GREAT.... (and yes, I know that we'd have complained about it THEN, too, but... you know what I mean).