Fans of daytime drama were shocked when the long running soap opera “The Guiding Light” was cancelled in 2009. The beloved serial premiered on radio in 1937, switching to TV during the 1950s. When it aired its final episode after an impressive 72 years on the air, it was the longest running scripted drama in history. Over the next three years, three other beloved soaps were cancelled in rapid succession.
Now, actress Crystal Chappell, who played a lesbian in a committed relationship on “Guiding Light,” offers “Beacon Hill,” a web serial she's producing. The new show reunites several of her “Guiding Light” co-stars, along with players from the also-cancelled “All My Children.” “Beacon Hill” will feature a front burner lesbian storyline.
Sarah Brown plays one half of the lesbian couple on “Beacon Hill.” Her character Katherine Wesley is from a conservative political family. She has no use for the GOP and is in fact a rising Democratic star. Her former girlfriend, journalist Sara Preston (Alicia Minshew of “All My Children”) has just returned to town. They've not had contact in years.
"Sara is now a reporter," Brown said. "Katherine doesn't trust her." But the attraction for each other is still there, in spite of their bad ending.
"It's great stuff," Brown said. "It explores powerful females in politics and journalism who are openly gay. There's no coming out story in the first season, but I've written my own back story. I've taken everything the writers have given me and go on a journey to see where it will take me."
Brown is a staunch advocate of LGBT equality and hopes the cast of “Beacon Hill” will draw viewers who may still be on the fence about gay issues.
"It's very courageous to bring in soap actors," she said. "ABC shows have a very conservative fan base. We're bringing them along for the ride and hopefully will open their minds. This will change your perspective of how you view LGBT people. I applaud Crystal and all the networks who are providing this kind of content."
But don't call “Beacon Hill” a soap opera. "It's not a soap genre show, it's a political genre show," Brown said. "We have none of the stuff you are encouraged to do on soaps. Soaps have specific ways to do tags at the end of scenes, we don't have that."
What “Beacon Hill” does have, according to Brown, is strong acting and high production values. "Crystal is doing a great job," she said. "I'm so proud of her production quality, in spite of the tiny shoestring budget."
Chappell tells SFGN that the entire first season of “Beacon Hill” was shot in 5 and a half days. Twelve episodes of six to nine minutes each were produced. "It was pushing it, but they did it," she said. She referred to Brown and Minshew's work as “phenomenal”and says that through viewer subscriptions and advertisers, her production costs are covered. The first season features a variety of story-lines.
"It's a great cast of daytime people," she said. "It's really about politics and intrigue and how the girls react to it. Lesbians are part of it, but the show is for everyone, including gay women who want to be represented."
Chappell, who is straight, sees no issue in presenting same sex story lines. "We've got a ways to go, but it's less shocking now," she said. "There are same sex stories across TV."
Episodes are now available for viewing at BeaconHillTheSeries.com
$9.99 gives you access to the full season.