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'Guiding Light' dims: Will others follow?

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When Josh Lewis and Reva Shayne broke it off (yet again!) in 2006, fans assumed it was only a matter of time before the patriarch and matriarch of CBS’ Guiding Light got back together. Well, they’d better get a move on. CBS announced that after 72 years of love and loss (and cloning), the show’s final episode will air on Sept. 18. The cancellation was hardly a shocker considering Light‘s dismal ratings: With 2.2 million viewers, it’s the least-watched soap on broadcast TV. But longtime star Robert Newman (Josh) hoped recent attempts to revitalize the show by shooting with handheld cameras would earn it a reprieve. ”Everything was clicking and then suddenly, boom!” says Newman. ”Soaps are made fun of a lot — from Tootsie or Joey on Friends — but when we are really clicking, people like to tune in.” At least, they used to. With daytime-drama viewership down 22 percent over the last decade alone — and middling series like Port Charles, Passions, and Sunset Beach canceled along the way — many wonder whether the genre’s days are numbered. ”You can’t take these shows for granted,” admits CBS head of daytime programming Barbara Bloom, who adds it would be ”foolhardy” to replace Light with another soap. (Expect a game show instead.) As for GL‘s swan song, ”fans want Josh and Reva to reunite,” Newman notes. ”I think that offers some kind of closure.” And, as with all good soaps, there’s always room for a resurrection. The show’s producer, TeleNext Media, hopes to find a new home for Light, perhaps on cable or satellite. There’s also a chance some characters — or their evil twins? — could jump to TeleNext’s other CBS soap, As the World Turns.

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