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'World Turns' fans turn to network, social media after soap canceled

By Jo Piazza, Special to CNN
The long-running soap opera "As the World Turns" has been canceled by CBS.
The long-running soap opera "As the World Turns" has been canceled by CBS.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CBS announced cancellation of the "As the World Turns" this week
  • Fans have called the network and its affiliates to vent their frustrations
  • Other fans have taken to social networking sites to discuss the cancellation
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- Longtime fans of the soap opera "As the World Turns" are mourning the loss of their daily date with the folks in the fictional town of Oakdale, Illinois, after CBS announced the cancellation of the long-running daytime drama this week.

To vent their frustrations, some diehard fans have called the network and its affiliates, and others have taken to social media to vent their frustrations.

When she hard the news, Teria Goode of Greer, South Carolina, was so upset, she called WSPA, her local CBS affiliate, to air her grievances to morning news anchor Fred Cunningham.

"She just wanted to know who she could talk to at CBS, and she said she had been talking to friends of hers and wanted to know if she could subscribe or pay CBS to keep doing the show," Cunningham said. "I said I don't think they would do that kind of thing, but I suggested she call the main CBS number."

Goode, 28, has been watching "As The World Turns" her entire life. Her mother was also a fan of the show.

In the past, fans who were upset about a network's abrupt programming cancellation started letter-writing campaigns begging a network to keep a show on the air. Viewers today are savvier about the economic realities facing corporations that produce shows, like Proctor & Gamble, which has produced "As the World Turns" for 54 years.

"I want to know if there is some kind of option where we can pay a fee every month to keep our show on the air," Goode said. "There are millions of people who watch soaps out there, and I am sure they would agree to pay the money."

Goode, a stay-at-home mom with six kids, said she was mourning the loss of what started as a daily ritual with her mother and aunt when she was a girl. Now that she is an adult, watching the show has grown into her own routine.

" 'As the World Turns' going off the air really hurts, and I am really upset. I just hate to see it go without trying to do something about it," she said.

Fewer mothers today are passing down their love of soaps to their daughters the way that Goode's did, and the economic realities facing soap operas are something that a monthly subscription fee, like the one of $5 that Goode suggested, probably won't help fix.

As a scripted show, a soap opera can be a $50 million investment in original programming that runs daily for 52 weeks a year. Networks just aren't interested in investing that kind of money today, when a reality television show or daytime talk show can be produced at a fraction of the price and bring in just as many advertisers.

"It is an interesting idea to have customers pay for their soap operas, but it would have to be so many customers paying for it that it would be difficult to implement," said Lynn Leahy, the editorial director of Soap Opera Digest.

Leahy says her office has been inundated with calls and e-mails since the announcement that "As The World Turns" would stop turning with a final episode next September. But she thinks that this time around, fans seemed ready for the blow, since they experienced a similar hit in August when "Guiding Light," which had long been considered a sister soap of "As The World Turns," went off the air.

Many fans have taken to social networking sites. On Facebook, groups such as "We Won't Give Up On 'As The World Turns,' " and "Don't Cancel 'As The World Turns' " have begun.

Twitter is another outlet. "Woke this am still crushed that CBS is canceling my favorite soap, 'As the World Turns,' " a woman with the user name Tiffakia posted the social networking site. "It is true about ATWT... very depressed about it ... is it weird to feel like a chunk of your life is ending?" BuzzWorthyRadio posted.

Tanya Meyers, 19, started Facebook's "We Won't Give Up On 'As the World Turns,' " where she encourages group members to write letters to the Lifetime cable network, asking it to pick up the long-running soap.

"I'm just not ready to let it all go. Especially in these times of trouble and stress, the show is like an escape from it all, to just sit back, relax and watch all that delicious drama that the show does so well," Meyers said. "I've written to Lifetime in hopes that they'll show interest and pick it up. People are really all coming together to get something done, and it's amazing to see."

Leahy, of Soap Opera Digest, believes that some fans are mourning the loss of the community that comes from watching and talking about the soap plot lines with friends and even with strangers online.

"People have become friends online just because of their mutual affection for a show," Leahy said. "A soap opera offers a different kind of connection for the viewer. In a way, it's like an appointment to have coffee with your neighbor every day at a certain time. But then, you really do have coffee with that neighbor and talk about the show, so it is a community experience."

Though Goode's plan of soap subscription services may never pan out, that isn't stopping other passionate "As The World Turns" fans from circulating petitions and threatening to boycott products made by Proctor & Gamble.

An online petition on the Web site PetitionSpot.com had 435 supporters Wednesday night, with a goal of 100,000. "We are getting plenty of feedback from fans. There is a lot of interest in letter-writing campaigns and protests at affiliate stations. Angrier people are interested in boycotting products from Proctor & Gamble," said Matt Purvis, a writer who chronicles the show for Soaps.com.