LESLIE CRISS: After 54 years, ‘World’ stops turning at week’s end

“Life is not so much about beginnings and endings as it is about going on
and on and on. It is about
muddling through the middle.”
– Anna Quindlen

“What is drama but life with the
dull bits cut out.”
– Alfred Hitchcock

Thanks to veteran journalist and commentator Bill Moyers, who courageously confessed years ago to being a fan of “As The World Turns,” I can make that same confession.
Truth be told, I probably first watched the CBS daytime serial from behind the bars of my crib in the Criss family home on College Street in Grenada.
I did not watch alone. My paternal grandmother and my mama watched with me.
But in five days, I shall watch no more.
I’ll sadly say so long at the end of the week to something that’s been a part of my life, off and on, for most of my nearly 53 years.
Initially a 15-minute TV “serial,” “ATWT” evolved into 30 minutes and later a full hour of much more than just love in the afternoon.
There’ve been marriages, divorces, births, deaths and all manner of madness and mayhem on the longest running daytime serial in history.
There’ve even been more than a few resurrections for that dastardly devil of a dude, James Stenbeck, played for years by Mississippi native Anthony Herrera.
I met Herrera back in the early ’90s while writing features for The Vicksburg Post. He was in town to do a play he’d co-written at the community theater.
We talked one Saturday morning and I told him my grandmother would like to know if James Stenbeck is really dead. He laughed and said, “You never know.”
I doubt my grandmother was as proud of any accomplishment of my life than she was of my meeting James Stenbeck.
The cast and crew of “As The World Turns” learned just before Christmas last year of the show’s demise, and that their final episode would air Sept. 17.
For some of those folks, “ATWT” has been a steady job for decades; a few have been on since the very beginning. Production ended in mid-June on the shows we’re still watching.

I’ll miss ’em
There are those who would laugh at me for being a fan of a soap opera. It’s OK. I’ve chuckled at friends who stand in line each year in Vicksburg, hoping for tickets to the Miss Mississippi Pageant. I’ve scoffed at friends who watch wrestling.
Truth is, we’re all free to be.
Say what you will about soaps, but this one’s launched the careers of such notables as Julienne Moore, Meg Ryan, Marisa Tomei. The great James Earl Jones even took a turn on the “World.”
In these final weeks, before the fictional world of Oakdale, Ill., ceases to turn, I’ve cried like a baby at certain plot twists. Except for one horrible tragedy involving a railroad crossing, a train, a stalled car and one of my favorite characters, writers are making everyone happy and healthy. Wrapping every storyline up nicely and tying it with a lovely, bright-colored ribbon.
I’ll miss these folks who’ve been a part of my life for, well, most of my life. But at least they’re going away happy.
Thanks for 54 years of a magnificent mix of comedy and drama, of writing and acting that have been both worthy of awards and way over the top.
At times whacky, and often whiny. But, so to, sometimes is life.
It’s just how the world turns.

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@djournal.com or (662) 678-1584.

LESLIE CRISS / NEMS Daily Journal