Christopher Goutman: On Working with Writers and Saying Goodbye to As the World Turns

Susan Dansby:  How do writers generally come to you?

Christopher Goutman:  I really depend upon the head writer. I’ve been blessed with working with Jean Passanante for many years. And I really bow to her discretion. 

Christopher Goutman and Jean Passanante

Christopher Goutman and Jean Passanante

Writers have come to me, but everything is going to be funneled through the head writer. And if she doesn’t approve of that writer, then I don’t go forward with it.  That’s really her bailiwick – or whoever the head writer is, that’s their bailiwick; and I don’t usurp that control.  I will express my opinion strongly; and if I don’t think something is working, then we have a serious discussion about it. 

I think most times when something hasn’t been working, we ultimately reach a consensus about that.  But in terms of trying new writers or writers that would like to try, I think I am a little bit more adventurous. 

If a new writer comes my way, I’m always one to throw that on to the pile. But I think, again, because soap operas are under such a pressure that if you can’t get it out in a specific amount of time, you are not going to make it. And I think young writers – first of all – don’t gravitate anymore towards soap operas because they look at it as a dying medium. And there are so many other opportunities for them from nighttime to whatever their muse is. 

But I think what we do here in soap operas is incredibly unique and also harder than a lot of other things.  Again, I mean, the cliché is if you can make it in daytime, you can make it anywhere and I truly think that that’s true.

Susan Dansby:  The demands are amazing and the rewards are as well.

Christopher Goutman:  The times where I feel just so gratified by it is, again, when all those pieces fit together, where the design comes together, and you just go like ‘Man, this is like, I have never seen anything like this.’

And the great thing about doing soap opera is – because you are a little bit of a junkie when you do this stuff – is we’re doing a show a day. So, the bad thing is, it’s a grind. But the good thing is if one show messes up, you’ve got tomorrow to do better.

So, you don’t have to wait a week or a month or a year as when you’re doing movies.  So, that’s the sort of roller coaster that you’re on – that you get to hop on that roller coaster every day.

Susan Dansby:  Well, I have one last question for you and that’s, given all these years at World Turns, what’s the big take away for you from that experience?

Christopher Goutman:  The take away for me is I am the luckiest guy on the face of the earth. I’ve worked with such great people. The hardest thing for me is to say goodbye to everyone here. And we move on and I know I will never replicate this experience. 

Whatever I do in the future will be different, of shorter duration; and it will come nowhere near the sense of family, the sense of satisfaction, and the true pleasure of running a ship that is – and has been for so many people – a great source of comfort, entertainment, and an unique part of their life.  So, again, the pleasures have been indescribable, the satisfaction is extraordinary and I will miss it.

More about Christopher Goutman:

The Challenges of Getting Hired as a Soap Opera Director
How Does a Soap Opera Executive Producer Choose Actors?
Christopher Goutman: What it’s Really Like to be a Soap Opera Executive Producer
Christopher Goutman’s Journey from Child Actor to Director to Producer
Christopher Goutman Bio

About Susan Dansby

Susan Dansby has received four Emmy® Awards and two Writers Guild Awards for her work on the soap opera, AS THE WORLD TURNS. She is the author of HOW DID YOU GET THAT JOB? MY DREAM JOBS AND HOW THEY CAME TRUE.
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