Home Television Soaps PALEY CENTER, 2010: Farewell to AS THE WORLD TURNS
Written by Scott Katz   
Thursday, 19 August 2010 00:35

As the World Turns logo (Image © 2010 Procter & Gamble)On Wednesday, August 18 at the Paley Center for Media in midtown Manhattan, cast members and fans of the long-running serial drama, As the World Turns, gathered to say goodbye to this venerable television institution.  Created by legendary television pioneer, Irna Phillips, and debuting on CBS-TV on Monday, April 2, 1956, As the World Turns will have aired a staggering 13,858 episodes when it goes off the air for good on Friday, September 17, 2010.

Just as with the Guiding Light farewell event hosted by the Paley Center in 2009 (which was also covered by USTownhall.com), the evening began with a red carpet photo op at approximately 6:00pm.  By 6:30, the cast of As the World Turns and their fans had made their way to the downstairs theater at the Paley Center in order to participate in a Q&A session hosted by Paley Center Curator, Ron Simon.

This was not the first As the World Turns event to be held at Paley.  In 1996, ATWT's 40th anniversary was celebrated there, and in 2006, Paley commemorated the soap's 50th by staging a recreation of the first script from April 2, 1956.  It was performed by Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes) and Don Hastings (Dr. Bob Hughes), who played mother and son since Hastings took over the role in 1960.  Sadly, Ms. Wagner, an original cast member who spoke the very first line of dialogue on the series premiere in 1956, died from cancer at the age of 91 on May 1, 2010, missing the series' final episode taping which took place about 7 weeks later on June 23, 2010.

What follows are our exclusive photos from the night as well as a summary of the Q&A panel.


As can be seen by the photo below taken from inside the Paley Center downstairs theater, the panel consisted of the following people, seated from left to right: Van Hansis (joined ATWT December 2005 as Luke Snyder), Trent Dawson (joined Fall 1999 as Henry Coleman), Terri Colombino (joined September 1998 as Katie Peretti), Colleen Zenk (joined September 1978 as Barbara Ryan), Kathryn Hays (joined August 1972 as Kim Sullivan), Don Hastings (joined October 1960 as Dr. Bob Hughes), Eileen Fulton (joined May 1960 as Lisa Miller), Jean Passanante (head writer since May 2005), Christopher Goutman (Executive Producer since June 1999), and Ron Simon, Curator of the Paley Center.


Q: What was it like to work in television in its early days?

Eileen Fulton: "Horrible! "

Don Hastings: Don remarked that in the early days of the series when the show was broadcast live, the cast had to be very close knit and help each other through each episode.


Q: What was it like to work with Irna Phillips, the creator of As the World Turns?

Eileen Fulton: Ms. Fulton shared that she didn't care for Irna at first, and Irna didn't care for her.  However, over time, their relationship changed and softened, and Ms. Fulton remembered the third time she quit the show "forever," when Irna came to Eileen's dressing room and surprised her by saying that she appreciated Eileen Fulton and the work she did.

Don Hastings: For a time, Don wrote scripts for both Guiding Light and As the World Turns under the pen name of JJ Matthew.  Don related how, while Irna may have had her problems with the actors over the years, she could be very protective of her writers.  Writers were somewhat afraid to get scripts sent back to them with a note from Irna, but often the notes would be a mixture of admonishment and encouragement such as "You can do better."  Irna protected her writers from the brunt of comments from the executives at the networks or Procter & Gamble.  When someone would have a complaint and would want to know who wrote a particular script, Irna would simply say, "I write the scripts," and that any comments or critiques about the story should be made to her directly.

Kathryn Hays: Ron Simon remarked how Kim Sullivan was the last great Irna Phillips character, and was somewhat of a reflection of Irna herself.  Ms. Hays said that when she first took on the role of Kim, she was uncomfortable with the scripts and couldn't quite get a handle on just who Kim was.  However, when Kim would listen to Eileen Fulton do her scenes, and saw the liberties that Eileen took with the words – performing them not quite exactly as written – she saw how Eileen made the character of Lisa come alive and really made Lisa her own.  With that as a guide, Kathryn was able to fully form the character of Kim especially when scripts started coming in where Irna was able to intuit things about Kathryn's own background and past that she began to incorporate into the story for the character of Kim Sullivan.

Collen Zenk: Colleen, who joined the show years after Irna had died in 1973, shared a story of a writer who significantly affected her character – Doug Marland.  Ms. Zenk remarked about how, when Doug joined the show, all of a sudden the character of Barbara went from heroine to villainess because Doug had thought "I don't think [Barbara Ryan] is that nice."  To which Ms. Hays cracked, "Did he find that in you?"  Terri Colombino chimed in, "[The writers] tap our phones!"  Ms. Zenk also told the audience that the orange dress she was wearing was actually from the wardrobe department of As the World Turns and dated back to the mid-1980s.  She wore it as a tribute to Marland because he loved her in that dress when she wore it on the show.


Q: What was it like to join a long-running show with such history?

Terri Colombino: Terri shared that it was daunting to join such an established show and that she really didn't watch before she was hired.  Terri was a fan of The Young and the Restless, and didn't really follow As the World Turns.  Terri's mother bought her the 40th Anniversary book for ATWT, and she tried to use it to brush up on the show's history before she started, but it was just too much to learn.  She also remembered that her first day was scary and went by so fast.  Like Kathryn, Terri didn't know what to do with her character at first, but really enjoyed the opportunity to create comedy with fellow cast member, Trent Dawson.

Trent Dawson: Trent didn't think about the show's long history because he didn't think he'd be there that long.  Dawson joined the show in 1999 for a few days, which then turned into a recurring role before finally becoming full contract in 2005.


Q: Regarding ATWT's gay storyline with the character of Luke Snyder, actor Van Hansis was asked what it was like to be part of such a groundbreaking story.

Van Hansis: "I tend to break ground wherever I go," Hansis joked, which elicited a roaring response of laughter from the audience.  Van said that he did not know at first that Luke would be gay.  He had never watched soaps before, and was not really focused on the "groundbreaking" aspect of the story because he was too preoccupied with being terrified of being on television.

Jean Passanante: Jean, as head writer for the show, confirmed that even though Hansis didn't know that the character of Luke would be gay, she had it planned that way from the beginning.

Eileen Fulton: Ms. Fulton remarked that this was one of the strengths of daytime in that you can do a storyline like this, that might be considered controversial, because it can be introduced slowly and "not hit people over the head with it."


Q: What is unique about As the World Turns among daytime dramas?

Jean Passanante: Jean said it was how generations have been preserved and families have been preserved.  For instance, telling a story about one member of the Hughes family affects the others – intergenerational storytelling.

Christopher Goutman: Chris prefaced his comments by saying that he came from ABC as a director, not as a boss to which Eileen Fulton interjected, "Oh, you were bossy!"  Chris said that what was unique about ATWT was that the characters talked like real people in a very naturalistic and truly midwestern manner.  Also, he was taken with how all the families were so interconnected, and he echoed Terri Colombino's earlier sentiment that it was pretty impossible to untangle how everyone was related to each other, but that the style of the show was so fascinating because it was based in reality.


Q: What was your favorite (or least favorite) storyline on the show?

Eileen Fulton: Eileen said that her least favorite storyline was the one involving the character of Martin Chadwick and the Cartel.  She then said that she loved the storyline with her character of Lisa and the romance with Dr. Bob Hughes ("when I was young!").

Don Hastings: Don said his favorite was the one written by Doug Marland where his character and Kathryn's character of Kim found "the daughter they didn't know they had!"

Kathryn Hays: Kathryn echoed Don's sentiments about the Frannie/Sabrina "unknown daughter" story that took them to England and Venice.

Colleen Zenk: Collen said that she has loved her entire time on As the World Turns over the last 32 years so her favorite story is the one she's playing now, seeming to indicate that each successive story becomes her new favorite.

Terri Colombino: Terri loved spending three summers in a row on an island with Trent as part of their characters' storylines.  She said that the best part of daytime for an actress is that when a character has memories, they are memories of the actor as well because they were real stories that they played years before.  Terri said she thinks of her character, Katie, as her "imaginary friend," and that it was really hard to say goodbye to the show.

Trent Dawson: Trent said that he really enjoyed developing the relationship between his character and Terri's Katie Peretti over the last five years.

Van Hansis: Van said that his favorite storyline was the current one which wraps up Luke.  He also said that even the least favorite storylines are worthwhile because they contain moments that "shine through for your character" and allow the actors to learn about their characters.


Q: Talk about closing the story and tying up loose ends.

Jean Passanante: Jean's sense of the characters is that they tell their own stories, and that while some characters specifically needed to have their storylines wrapped up, the final fates of some other characters could just be hinted at and left up to the audience's imaginations.

Christopher Goutman: Looking back over the history of the show, Chris remarked it was the cast that made the show what it was – that Colleen Zenk's portrayal of Barbara Ryan was that of a leading lady and so relatable with so many successful pairings with the leading men of the show.  He also stated that the character of Luke would not have been successful if not for Van Hansis.

Jean Passanante: Jean said that it was shocking that original cast member, Helen Wagner, passed away before the last episode was taped.  In the final week, Helen's character of Nancy Hughes will die on the show and the families of Oakdale, the fictional town where As the World Turns is set, will gather to pay tribute to her.


The Q&A part of the program hosted by Ron Simon was then wrapped and the audience was invited to ask questions.  A few fans thanked the cast for the decades of entertainment that they experienced from the show and from their characters.  When a fan asked Chris Goutman about the future of soaps, Chris said that many of today's television shows incorporate serial storytelling techniques.  As for daytime, he said that costs are problematic, but he believes that serials will continue to be around, but perhaps in different forms.

Don Hastings replied to a fan asking about funny moments while shooting the show.  Don said that their original studio at 15 Vanderbilt Avenue had a train station directly beneath them, and when the train would pull into its stop, the dishes in the Hughes kitchen would rattle at the same time every day, right on schedule.

Actor Austin Peck, who played Brad Snyder from 2007-2009, then stood up from the audience and thanked Jean Passanante and Christopher Goutman for the opportunity to play the character of Brad.  Austin appreciated the fact that Brad was so different from his Days of Our Lives character, Austin Reed, who was the typical soap hero.  Austin loved that Brad Snyder was so "flawed, goofy, and stupid."

A fan asked if, given the cancellation of As the World Turns, it was still viable to make a living in New York City as an actor.  Eileen Fulton stated that there was still Broadway and that many movies shoot here.  Terri Columbino said that she's had auditons for projects shooting in Toronto, Vancouver, Atlanta, and Austin, Texas, but the casting is still often done in New York even if the project is filmed elsewhere.  Collen Zenk said that the decline in New York productions – what with the losses in the last year of Guiding Light, All My Children (which moved production out to Los Angeles), and As the World Turns, along with the losses of nighttime productions such as the original Law and Order series – does make this a huge transition not only for actors, but for everyone in the industry.  A lot of actors and production people have moved out to LA.


Finally, the studio audience was treated to a special sneak preview of a pivotal scene, set to air at the end of August, which involved the marriage of two long-running characters on the series.  Head writer Jean Passanante said that she wanted the scene to be stripped down to the basics in terms of the dialogue and the vows that the characters made to each other.


With that, the theater portion of the evening was concluded, and the cast and the fans headed upstairs to participate in a mixer where they could chat up the cast, take pictures, and partake of the hors d'oeuvres and drinks provided by the Paley Center staff.  We at USTownhall.com would like to thank the people at the Paley Center, including Ron Simon, Carrie Oman, and the rest of the staff, for putting together such a wonderful and respectful tribute to this long-running New York City production.



All photos are © 2010 USTownhall.com & Aquarius Enterprises.  All Rights Reserved.  No photo may be copied or reproduced without the express written permission of USTownhall.com & Aquarius Enterprises.


Van Hansis (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Jean Passanante (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Van Hansis (Luke Snyder) Jean Passanante (head writer, As the World Turns)
Christopher Goutman (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Christopher Goutman & Jean Passanante (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Christopher Goutman (Executive Producer, As the World Turns) Christopher Goutman, Jean Passanante
Trent Dawson (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Colleen Zenk (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Trent Dawson (Henry Coleman) Colleen Zenk (Barbara Ryan)
Trent Dawson (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Colleen Zenk (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Trent Dawson Colleen Zenk
Terri Colombino (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Austin Peck (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Terri Colombino (Katie Peretti) Austin Peck (Brad Snyder)
Terri Colombino (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Terri Colombino & Austin Peck (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Terri Colombino Terri Colombino, Austin Peck
Eileen Fulton (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Kathryn Hays (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Eileen Fulton (Lisa Grimaldi) Kathryn Hays (Kim Hughes)
Kathryn Hays, Don Hastings, Eileen Fulton (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Kathryn Hays, Don Hastings, Eileen Fulton (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Kathryn Hays, Don Hastings (Bob Hughes), Eileen Fulton Kathryn Hays, Don Hastings, Eileen Fulton
Eileen Fulton (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Kathryn Hays, Don Hastings, Eileen Fulton (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Elieen Fulton Kathryn Hays, Don Hastings, Eileen Fulton
Don Hastings (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Kathryn Hays, Eileen Fulton (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Don Hastings Kathryn Hays, Eileen Fulton
Don Hastings (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Mick Hazen (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Don Hastings Mick Hazen (Parker Synder)
Cast of As the World Turns (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
(back) Goutman, Peck, Dawson, Hansis, Colombino   (front) Hastings, Hays, Fulton, Zenk, Passanante
Cast of As the World Turns (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Hansis, Dawson, Colombino, Zenk, Hays, Hastings, Fulton, Passanante (not visible: Goutman & Ron Simon, Curator of the Paley Center)
Trent Dawson (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Kathryn Hays (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Trent Dawson Kathryn Hays
Trent Dawson (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Kathryn Hays (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Trent Dawson Kathryn Hayes
Robert Newman (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Don Hastings (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Robert Newman (Josh Lewis, Guiding Light) Don Hastings
Robert Newman (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Don Hastings (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Robert Newman Don Hastings
Austin Peck (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Van Hansis (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Austin Peck Van Hansis
Terri Colombino (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Eileen Fulton (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Terri Colombino Eileen Fulton
Austin Peck (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Eileen Fulton (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Austin Peck Eileen Fulton
Christopher Goutman (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Jean Passanante (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Christopher Goutman Jean Passanante
Van Hansis (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Mick Hazen (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Van Hansis Mick Hazen
Van Hansis (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Mick Hazen (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Van Hansis Mick Hazen
Colleen Zenk (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises) Colleen Zenk (Photo © 2010 Aquarius Enterprises)
Colleen Zenk Colleen Zenk







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