NEW YORK - CBS canceled
As the World Turns
yesterday, putting the company that coined the phrase "soap operas" out of the business of making daytime dramas for the first time in 76 years.
As the World Turns has been on the air since 1956 and televised its 13,661st episode yesterday. Its last episode will air next September, the network said.
It's the second daytime drama CBS has canceled in a year, after Guiding Light. Both shows were 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 such as Ivory soap and Duz laundry detergent.
Daytime dramas have been fading as a genre for years, with more women joining the workforce and the increased number of channels offering alternatives like news, talk, and reality and game shows. In tough economic times, paying casts, producers, and writers proved prohibitive to networks when there were cheaper alternatives.
The cancellation will leave CBS with only two daytime dramas: The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.
Through the years, actors Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey, and James Earl Jones have appeared on As the World Turns. The show follows families in the Illinois town of Oakdale.
"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 sign-off.
"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 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.
Procter & Gamble first began producing soap operas in 1933 with the radio show Ma Perkins, and has made a total of 20 such programs in its history.