cleanup on aisle five

posted at 10:26 pm by brandon in in a lather

I’m sure what follows is funny to no one but me, but the beauty of having my own blog is that I have the power to indulge myself in that which amuses me greatly.


Earlier this year, Ellen Wheeler, the executive producer of the 71-year-old American institution “Guiding Light,” spearheaded a radical revamp of the classic soap, switching to handheld digital cameras and adopting a more “natural” shooting style.  In addition, the show’s home base was moved from its traditional Manhattan studio out to Peapack, New Jersey, several of whose locales — churches, municipal buildings, gas stations, and residences — now double for those in fictional Springfield, the town in which the show is based.


In late February, when the show’s new production model was unveiled, Wheeler gave a multitude of interviews to the mainstream press trumpeting the enormous changes, and expressing profuse joy over being able to now show the soap’s characters driving real cars, waving from real porches, and primping in real salons.  (As she herself intoned excitedly, “Now when a character is getting down on one knee to propose, he doesn’t have a patch of fake grass sliding out from under him in the studio. It’s there in the beautiful park and believable!”)

Recently, Emmy-winning soap writer Tom Casiello (whose bracing MySpace blog, the link for which can be found in the “My Posse” widget box in the Buzz’s rightmost column, is a weekly must-read for those curious about the daytime industry’s goings-on) conducted a series of informal focus groups, asking objective and devoted soap fans careful, probing questions about the state of each of the eight surviving serials.  As could have been easily anticipated, since most facets of the production revamp haven’t gone over so well with audiences, the best and most illuminating answers came from the “Guiding Light” session.  One of Tom’s questions was:

Guiding Light now has an entire real-life town at their disposal to use as backdrops in their scenes. However, with the exception of a couple instances, they still use your basic soap opera locales: hospitals, police stations, homes, parks, churches and bars/restaurants. What’s the one real-world location that you can’t get in any other studio-shot soap opera you’d love to see GL take advantage of in Peapack, and why?”


And one of the panelists, an unidentified male in his 20s, offered a classic, spot-on response:

“How about a supermarket? If we are all about being earthy and ‘real’ these days on GL, then shouldn’t we see these characters shop for groceries, too? As Ellen Wheeler would say,

‘When Daisy sits down to a bowl of Ramen soup at Company, I want to know which wholesale club Buzz bought it from (and whether they had more than one flavor).'”


Check, Ellen.


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