We had the honor of interviewing David Kreizman, who joined the Guiding Light staff in 1995 as an intern and then became the soap opera head writer in 2004. Get ready for an exciting behind-the-scenes journey in the world of Guiding Light.
SentieriOnLine – When did you start working for Guiding Light?
David Kreizman – I was hired as an intern at Guiding Light when I was still in college in the summer of 1995. After I graduated I started in the production office and then became an Associate Producer before becoming a script writer in 1999.
SOL – What does it mean for you to have been the Head Writer of the longest Soap Opera and winning an Emmy in 2007?
DK – It was a great honor and a great responsibility to be the Head Writer of Guiding Light. The show and those characters will always be a huge part of my life. I met my wife there and I’m very proud to have been a small part of such an amazing legacy.
SOL – When you became the Head Writer of GL, what did you decide to change first of all compared to the previous management?
DK – It’s been 17 years so my memory of that time is a bit faded, but I know that when I started my goal was to center our stories around our powerful and amazing leading ladies, especially Reva, Harley and Cassie and to tell multi-generational character-based stories. I wanted to give story to some other core characters who had been neglected like Holly, Blake, Ross and Buzz.
SOL – What was the process that led to the creation of the stories? How much did Telenext affect the stories? Is there any story you would have liked to tell but was not approved?
DK – We certainly had a lot of input from Telenext and from CBS when it came to the stories. I’m sure there were stories that were not approved, but I can’t remember any at the moment.
SOL – During the last years, many beloved and important characters have been killed. Why this drastic choice? (Ross, Gus, Coop, Tony, Tammy, Sandy)
DK – Several of those decisions were made before my time as head writer or during the writers strike so I can’t speak to those. Unfortunately, some of the other decisions were made because actors chose to leave the show for other roles or opportunities or for budgetary reasons. We never liked to see favorites leave, but it often presented opportunities for big, emotional stories. Deaths of beloved characters were always the hardest decisions to make and were never made lightly.
SOL – How much did the reactions of the viewers (Email, phone calls, Internet) influence the writing of the stories? Have you ever been forced to change any story because the viewers were not happy?
DK – We were generally writing at least 6 months in advance of what was on the air, so generally by the time fan reaction came in we were already onto the next leg of a story. I would say that positive reaction had more of an influence than negative reaction.
SOL – Who were your favorite characters and what is your favorite story that you wrote?
DK – I really loved all of the characters. I particularly loved writing for Reva and Harley and also Buzz would be so much better than we could’ve imagined. I’ll always feel a connection to the Jonathan/Tammy/Reva/Cassie story because it was one of the first we wrote and the chemistry between Tom Pelphrey and Kim Zimmer was so incredible. When Tom left, I wasn’t ready to let go of the Jonathan character which is why we wrote the Jonathan’s Story book. I felt there was so much more to do with that character and with the Jonathan/Tammy love story.
SOL – Was there any character from the past that you would have liked to bring back on the show for some story (short or long term) but it wasn’t possible?
DK – We tried desperately to get Peter Simon to come back as Ed Bauer. I would have loved to have written for Michael Zaslow as Roger. He was such an incredible actor and Roger was GL’s greatest and most complex villain.
SOL – Among the special episodes, which was the one that you most loved to write and why?
Each one of these holds a special place in my heart.
1) Episode #15000 – This one was just fun and it was great to let the actors show off.
2) She’s a Marvel – As a huge Marvel fan, this one was a dream come true for me. I even got to play a small role as the thug that gets zapped by Harley. I’ve never been happier.
3) 70th anniversary episode – I have so much admiration for Irna Phillips and what she accomplished. I locked myself in a hotel room for a weekend with some history books, old tapes and scripts to write this episode. It was my love letter to Irna, to Guiding Light and to all the actors, writers and crew who came before us.
SOL – When the new production model has been introduced, did anything change in your writing process?
DK – We were learning on the fly about how to write in the new model – What kind of scenes worked and didn’t work. The great part is that we were no longer constrained by set construction in the way we were before. It was truly an experiment and production did an amazing job shifting over. That decision saved the show and gave it an extra year of life.
SOL – What did you feel when you learned about GL Cancellation?
DK – The cancellation was devastating to everyone who worked there. We’d been on the brink for many years and we always knew it was a possibility, but it was very hard when it actually happened. But we didn’t have much time to mourn because we immediately had to start thinking about how we were going to wrap up the story.
SOL – Would you write again for Guiding Light?
DK – Writing for Guiding Light was probably the hardest thing I ever did. It was a 7 day a week job. I thought about the story and those characters all day and even in my dreams. But I loved the characters and the people I worked with. So I’d say yes.
SOL – What have you done after GL?
DK – After GL I worked a lot of different places including As the World Turns, All My Children, Days of Our Lives and WWE. I wrote a novel that came out last year called, “The Year They Fell.” Currently I’m co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Gen-Z Media. We produce scripted podcasts for kids and families (sort of a modern version of radio dramas.) Our first show “The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel” won a Peabody Award and is in development as a tv show at Disney. Since then we’ve produced about 15 other serialized podcasts. If you want to check out our shows you can go to gzmshows.com Six Minutes is our most popular show. We did 204 episodes and it’s been listened to millions of times all over the world.
SOL – Did you ever visit Italy? Is there something you want to tell to the Italian GL fans?
DK – Sadly, I have never been to Italy. We were supposed to go the week of 9/11 and had to cancel our trip. I’ve been trying to get there ever since and hope to very soon once we can travel again. I know that the Italian GL fans are among the most loyal and passionate in the world. I’ve heard so many stories from the actors about how well they’re treated when they’ve visited. Those of us who worked on the show are so grateful for the fans. And while there were stories that made fans happy and others that didn’t, I can tell you that those of us who worked at GL knew how special the show was. We never took it for granted. We loved the characters and the history and did our best to honor them every day. We all still miss the show.
We thank David Kreizman for this incredible interview and for his kindness.