CBS has announced that another staple of daytime television will leave the air. AS THE WORLD TURNS will air its final broadcast in September, 2010.
At the time of that final show, the soap will have been on the air for 54 years.
Since its premiere on April 2, 1956, the show has broadcast more than 13,000 episodes and has featured now-big name actors like Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey and James Earl Jones. From the very first episode, actress Helen Wagner has portrayed the matriarch of the Hughes family. It was a scene with Wagner that was interrupted by Walter Cronkite on November 22, 1963 with a bulletin that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas.
“The almanacs will show AS THE WORLD TURNS as a pioneer of the format, a hallmark for quality with its numerous Emmy’s, the launching pad for many television and film stars and a daytime ratings powerhouse for parts of three decades. But, the true legacy of AS THE WORLD TURNS will be the fictional characters and stories of a small Midwest town that resonated every day with millions of viewers over multiple generations, becoming a treasured daytime institution in the process,” CBS Senior Vice President for Daytime Programming Barbara Bloom said in a statement.
The decision at least allows the writers a lot of time to wrap up storylines (or build cliffhangers that won’t get wrapped up, depending on their plans) for the Hughes, Montgomery, Ryan, Snyder, Stewart and Walsh families, and all characters in between.
There’s no word, yet, on what will replace AS THE WORLD TURNS on the CBS schedule, but speculation is that another game show format may be pulled into service. Earlier this year, GUIDING LIGHT, which had been on the air in radio and television for a total of 72 years, came to a close and was replaced with a cheaper-to-produce game show, LET’S MAKE A DEAL.
Several game show formats were considered before the network decided on LET’S MAKE A DEAL; it’s possible one of the others may appear in the AS THE WORLD TURNS timeslot.
When AS THE WORLD TURNS leaves the air, CBS will have only two soaps left on the air: THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, which has been the number one soap in daytime for years, and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, which is the most-watched soap in the world.
Then again, a lot can happen in nine months. So stay tuned.