- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NEW YORK

CBS on Tuesday canceled “As the World Turns,” 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 Tuesday. Its last episode will be 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 as more women have joined the work force and an increased number of channels offer alternatives including news, talk, 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 just two daytime dramas: “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

Through the years, actors James Earl Jones Marisa, Tomei, Meg Ryan and Parker Posey have appeared on “As the World Turns.” The show follows families in the Illinois town of Oakdale.

“It’s a [heck] 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 Miss 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 Procter & Gamble subsidiary TeleNext Media Inc., said the company is actively seeking a new outlet to carry the show.

TeleNext said the same thing about “Guiding Light,” which went off the air in September, but it has been unable to find a new home. Keeping the show alive online has been discussed, but the cost of that alternative 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.

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