Here is the article I wrote for my local online newspaper about my evening at the Paley Center....I don't know if I am allowed to mention the name of my local online newspaper, but I can give you a big hint...what was Stephen Nichols' famous trademark (a five letter word) on DOOL?
The world may not stop turning as a result, but for one prominent Fairfield County resident and Wilton activist, the end of a certain soap opera means her own life may start spinning on a different axis.
Colleen Zenk Pinter and her fellow cast members gathered at the Paley Center for Media in midtown Manhattan earlier this month to celebrate the impending wrap of the iconic soap opera As the World Turns. The show is scheduled to go off the air on September 17, after a 54 year run on CBS.
Several cast members, including Zenk Pinter, commemorated the occasion by holding a panel discussion of their reel lives in the fictional midwestern town of Oakdale, Illinois. Zenk Pinter is a 32-year veteran of the soap where she has portrayed fashion designer Barbara Ryan. She is also a Redding resident and an active member of the Wilton community,
During her tenure, she has been nominated twice for a Daytime Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2001 and 2002, and is a Soap Opera Digest nominee for Best Villainess. In recent years, Zenk Pinter's real life struggle with oral cancer was played out in a storyline when her character Barbara Ryan contracted the disease.
Speaking to the sold-out audience at the Paley Center on Aug. 18, Zenk Pinter expressed how grateful she was to "have had this magnificent job for 32 years."
She also voiced her appreciation to the various leading men she has played opposite over the years. Trent Dawson, her character's current beau, has played Henry Coleman since 1999 and was on the panel along with Zenk Pinter. Dawson, 39, is 18 years Zenk Pinter's junior, making for an interesting on-screen relationship.
During the evening, Zenk Pinter let the cat out of the bag and told the audience that her and Dawson's characters will tie the knot before the show takes its final bow next month.
As the World Turns has not been shy in portraying unconventional love stories. In August of 1988, the show broke heretofore unchartered territory by having one of its characters, Hank Elliott, come out as being gay.
Since December of 2005, a member of one of the core families, Luke Snyder, has told the story of a young gay man coming out and suffering through the same trials and tribulations as his heterosexual counterparts. Luke's portrayer, Van Hansis, was also in attendance, much to the delight of the adoring fans. Hansis, during his time on the show, received three consecutive Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Younger Actor.
Also on the panel were Don Hastings, who has played Dr. Bob Hughes since October of 1960, Eileen Fulton and Terri Columbino. Executive Producer Chris Goutman and head writer Jean Passanante sat on the panel and answered questions from the moderator and audience.
During the evening, the audience was treated to a short retrospective of the show's rich history. ATWT was created by the legendary soap writer Irna Phillips, and produced by Procter & Gamble Productions. Making its debut on April 2, 1956, ATWT was the first half-hour soap opera (in those days, most shows aired in 15 minute episodes). For the first 19 years of the show's run, it was broadcast live and was one of the last two daytime dramas to revert to videotape. In December of 1975, the show expanded to a one hour format.
It was during one of the show's live broadcasts that Walter Cronkite broke the stunning news of the JFK assassination in November of 1963. The show enjoyed enormous popularity during its early years, ranking first in the all-important Neilsen ratings for 21 years, from 1958-1979. Sadly, in recent years, the show fell victim to low ratings and is the third soap opera to wrap in the last three years, following NBC's Passions and CBS's Guding Light.
Despite its cancellation, which was announced last December, the show garnered three of the top acting awards during the Daytime Emmy telecast on June 27. Taking home trophies were two-time Best Actress Emmy winner Maura West, her leading man, Michael Park, who was named Best Actor and Julie Pinson, who played Jack's ex-wife and who was voted Best Supporting Actress.
Many prominent modern day movie and television stars started their careers toiling on the soap. The list includes Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Julianne Moore, Meg Ryan, Parker Posey, Dana Delaney and Ming-Na Wen, to name just a few. The Oscar winning director Mark Rydell (for 'On Golden Pond') was part of daytime's first super-couple. Much to fans' dismay, Rydell chose to spread his wings and left the show when his character, Jeff Baker, was tragically killed in a car crash in 1962.
Sadly, the last original cast member, who spoke the very first words on the show's premiere episode in April of 1956, Helen Wagner, died in May at the age of 91. The producers and writers had planned to have Wagner close out the show with the last line before her death.
On Friday, September 17, ATWT will broadcast its 13,858th and final episode. A multi-generational show, it will be missed by its legions of fans, some of whom have literally grown up with the program