Editor's note: Robert Feder is on spring break until April 7. While he's away, we're running "The Best of Feder." The following post originally appeared on Dec. 10, 2009:
As the World Turns creator Irna Phillips
Like hearing of the death of a celebrity you'd long assumed already dead, my first reaction to news of the cancellation of "As the World Turns" was surprise that it was still on the air. I'm not proud to admit that, but it's true.
As the last soap opera produced by Procter & Gamble, the company for which the term "soap opera" was coined, "As the World Turns" was a relic of another era in television -- when millions of housewives (and later millions of college students) followed Monday-through-Friday daytime dramas religiously. It became an indelible part of American history on Nov. 22, 1963, when Walter Cronkite‚ interrupted a live broadcast of the program with the first‚ bulletin of President Kennedy's assassination. The show's title took on special meaning that day.
After a 54-year run on CBS, "As the World Turns" will air its final episode at the end of this season. The announcement followed the network's cancellation earlier this year of Procter & Gamble's "Guiding Light" after 72 years on TV and radio. CBS Chairman Les Moonves told the‚ New York Times:
"It's certainly the end of the client-owned soap. All good things come to an end, whether it's after 72 years or 54 years or 10 years. It's a different time and a different business."
While it's possible for "As the World Turns" to be revived on cable, that's not likely to happen, considering the show's production costs and dwindling audience. When the curtain falls in September, it almost surely will mean the end of what was the No. 1-rated soap on television from 1959 to 1971 and the winner of 58 Emmy Awards. It also will close a chapter in Chicago history.