Something Smells Wrong about the Latest ‘As The World Turns’ Stunt Casting

Jul 1, 2009

Today is the 108th anniversary of the birth of prolific soap creator  Irna Phillips (on TV alone, she concocted “Guiding Light” and “As the  World Turns”, and had a hand in “Days of Our Lives” and “Another  World”, among others). An appropriate time, then to ponder the  incredibly strange happenings at stalwart soap “ATWT” (you know… the  CBS golden oldie soap that isn’t going off the air Sept. 18th).

With “GL’s” impending end, there is no denying that the entire soap  genre — especially “ATWT,” given its anemic ratings — is in danger  of extinction while Obama is still in the White House. One would think  that CBS and Procter & Gamble (which owns the 53-year-old soap) would  be circling the wagons and crafting compelling, character-driven drama and romance for its current cast, designed to keep longtime fans  watching and, just maybe, attract some lapsed viewers.

One would think.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The past few years have seen an outbreak of stunt casting at “ATWT,” including an unseemly number of  former “General Hospital” stars making less-than-memorable impressions  on viewers.

Today brings news (via Soap Opera Digest) that Emmy-winning former  “General Hospital” star Stuart Damon (ex-Alan Quartermaine) is joining  ATWT in a new role. “ATWT” needs a lot of things — but one of them isn’t another “GH” actor in a new role.

The soap has almost ten actors on contract with more than 20 years  experience — how about telling stories for those characters (and  their kids) rather than cast a big-name actor from another network in a role that no one cares about?

Call me old-fashioned, but this trend of bringing on big names in new roles (which, to be fair, isn’t limited to “ATWT”) reeks of “Celebrity  Apprentice” or some other attempt to revive a foundering reality  franchise.

I’m mixing my catchphrases, but the tribe has spoken — and we’re not happy. 


  1. quote >> The past few years have seen an outbreak of stunt casting at “ATWT,” including an unseemly number of former “General Hospital” stars making less-than-memorable impressions on viewers.
    Actually I think that Jon Lindstrom has been a wonderful lasting addition as Craig. Julie Pinson (the fomer PC-er) has also been great as well.
    Soaps are going to always add new characters – and some will come and go. I don’t mind if they cast big names in those roles as long as it fits. Yes I would love to see more vets on screen, but I’m willing to give these new characters a fair shot before I pass judgment on them.
    I, for one, am really looking forward to seeing Stuart on ATWT.

  2. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t watched CBS since they announced the cancellation of Guiding Light.

  3. If they cancel ATWT, I will NEVER watch CBS again. Their News covereage is deplorable and the only shows I watch are Guiding Light and ATWT. Once ATWT goes, CBS might as well go for all I care.

  4. If they cancel ATWT, I will NEVER watch CBS again. Their News covereage is deplorable and the only shows I watch are Guiding Light and ATWT. Once ATWT goes, CBS might as well go for all I care.

  5. Just want to clarify something, folks… NO OFFENSE at all to Stuart Damon (I’m a huge fan) or the actors, writers, directors and producers who are working hard every day to deliver a quality show. I would love to see Damon integrated into the show (paging Lisa, Barbara, Lucinda, Susan, etc.).
    I’m simply observing (and commenting on) an unfortunate trend that isn’t serving the show effectively in the long run. These are incredibly desperate times, but sometimes desperate measures (stunt casting with ABC vets) aren’t necessarily called for.

  6. Stick a fork in ATWT. Y&R is heading downhill now, as well. B&B is useless and always has been.

  7. After what they’ve done to run off all the long time fans of The Guiding Light why is anyone surprised about the treatment ATWT is getting? Now that they’ve killed off GL, they’re coming after ATWT and will not rest until it’s off the air too. IMO, ATWT will not last more than two years at best. The TPTB behind both GL and ATWT don’t want these shows to succeed any longer and are purposely killing them off! You know this genre is in trouble when those behind the scenes are pulling the plug on their own shows and then turning around and blaming the networks to save face. I don’t blame CBS at all for this considering a few years back they were begging P&G to buy both soaps (to fix them and make them profitable). And recently when CBS asked them repeatedly to add more drama and improve the shows P&G sat on their hands and ignored both CBS and the fans who were complaining about the decline in quality storylines. P&G kept ownership and allowed both shows to suffer a slow death. It’s GL today, ATWT tomorrow. What a shame!
    Thanks Jonathan for your blog entry. It was a good read.

  8. I think the only thing that could make this good news is if they brought Damon on to be Dr. John Dixon — or any of the other characters who have left the grid for awhile. Bringing in a brand new character, without the benefit of being a Hughes, Dixon, Snyder or Stewart is foolhardy. But that seems to be the way the soap cookie is crumbling.
    And I agree — Stuart Damon is a tremendous actor. I just wish they could figure out a way to weave him into Oakdale’s tapestry without concoting a whole new character.

  9. I have been saying for a couple of years now that soaps need to be circling the wagons and concentrating on retaining the viewers they have left – not trying to attract new viewers and teens as this is probably a lost cause. We want stories with our beloved veteran characters and actors that we care about.
    If they would
    1. Get rid of the fluff, horrible recasts, and horrible storylines featuring inexplicably dumb women, it would help. Get back to character-driven, family-based storytelling – back to the Hughes, Dixon, Snyder clans. FIND AND BRING BACK ACTORS THAT USED TO BE ON — that is so much better than stunt casting of new ones, no matter how loved they were on other shows. Even just 5 or 6 really beloved former actors coming back could galvanize this show and bring back viewers who had left.
    2. Stop being scared to go for it with the Luke & Noah romance. ATWT has an opportunity to be truly edgy and groundbreaking here. Give them equality with the other characters, feature them more, let them be together and happy, solving their problems as a couple. It is really quite unique among soaps, and they’re getting HUGE viewership online and on youtube for this. If they committed to it, I think they would pick up TV viewers by the millions. I cannot for the life of me understand why they aren’t taking advantage of it.
    Soaps and the TV industry need to get with the times and count ratings for VCR/DVR watching, online watching etc. No wonder the ratings are going down. Who stays home during the day anymore? Not the people the advertisers want to attract. No soap fan I know watches real-time – ALL of us work, and all of us watch it daily when we get home. Don’t cause the death of an entire genre based on failure to notice you still have an audience.
    I watched ATWT for 25 years and quit a couple of years ago. I am a daily GH viewer. They do a lot of things wrong at GH, but they do a lot right, too.

  10. Viewers better get used to new actors – of a sort – on ATWT…I think that the recent hiring of GL’s head writer David K. to work at ATWT points to the integration – however briefly – of at least a few GL characters into Oakdale’s population… that’s just speculation on my part, but they did the same thing when NBC dropped the ball with Another World, bringing over a few characters from That failed Proctor & Gamble soap. To keep GL viewers tuned in to ATWT/CBS , it is an obvious thing for them to try…again!!
    As for Damon , I can only say that it may be a good thing for the vets on ATWT, as my guess is that he’ll possibly feature in a storyline with one or more of them . Is there not a dearth of older male actors on the show? Any time an actor his age ( whatever it may be , 50+) is given a job should be applauded…. and maybe all the more so for Damon , whose firing at GH seemed unexpected to say the least.


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