Lisa de Moraes TV Column: 'As the World Turns' canceled; TV's winners, losers

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"As the World Turns," the daytime soap that introduced us to Meg Ryan, James Earl Jones, Julianne Moore and Marisa Tomei, has been canceled after 54 years. CBS announced Tuesday that it will shut down the daytime drama.

It's the second soap scrubbed by CBS in a year; "World" follows the career trajectory of "Guiding Light," for which the fat lady sang in September.

Both soaps "have had long and distinguished runs and their day is over," CBS chief executive Les Moonves said on CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Tuesday; Les is not one to beat around the bush. "World," will turn no more as of September -- one year after "Guiding Light" ended its 72-year reign.

Both shows were produced by Proctor & Gamble, which coined the phrase "soap opera" because the company used the shows to advertise the product. When "As the World Turns" bows out, it will mark the first time in 76 years that P&G will not have a soap on the air. The company got into the soap opera business in 1933 with the radio show "Ma Perkins."

CBS will still have "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful" on its daytime lineup -- both of which are averaging more viewers than "As the World Turns," which these days only attracts 2.5 million viewers, compared with 6.5 million in 1993.

* * *

Middle-aged men had a great week on TV. Excepting Jay Leno, of course.

Here's a look at the week's winners and losers:


"Monk." No annoyingly ambiguous diner scene, no jaw-dropping autistic child's snow-globe-induced dream -- the series finale of USA's obsessive-compulsive-detective drama series tied everything up neatly with a bow. Adrian Monk solved his wife's murder and lived neurotically ever after as more than 9 million people watched. That is the biggest basic cable audience ever for an hour-long series episode.

"Steven Seagal: Lawman." Nearly 4 million caught the unveiling of A&E's strangely addicting taser-happy series in which aging movie star Seagal prattles on merrily about "the 'jects" and Zen breathing while fulfilling his duties as a reserve sheriff's deputy in Jefferson Parish, La. That's A&E's biggest launch crowd ever for an original series.

"Men of a Certain Age." TNT's new bromance series starring Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula attracted 5.4 million viewers -- rivaling the 5.6 million who watched the highly hyped unveiling of USA's concierge doctor drama "Royal Pains" back in June.


Jay Leno. When President Obama addressed the nation Tuesday, NBC bumped Jay Leno and ran fat-farm series "Biggest Loser" in his timeslot, where it doubled the talk show's audience. One night earlier, Jay went head-to-head against repeats on CBS and ABC, but still clocked some of his smallest numbers ever.

Bonnie Hunt. Hunt's daytime talker, which ranks 12th out of 13 syndicated talk shows this season, will wind up production and call it a day. The show's produced at Warner Bros., which is already working on its replacement -- another "View"-esque "Kumbaya" talker. This one will include panelists Rene Syler, formerly of the "Early Show"; Food Network's Paula Deen; comic Judy Gold; and TV's reigning Victimom, Kate Gosselin.

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