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GL To Film At Lake Shawnee
Topic Started: Sep 14 2007, 10:33 AM (348 Views)
Steve Frame
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Soap opera films at Lake Shawnee in Jefferson

'Guiding Light' finds location by mistake, scout says

Thursday, September 13, 2007
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JEFFERSON -- Motor boats usually are not allowed on Lake Shawnee, but Wednesday the private beach club made an exception.

That meant that Harley Cooper was able to pull a sopping wet Cyrus Foley out of the lake and into the boat. At one point she slapped him.

All of this was setting the stage for the kidnapping of undercover police officer Marina Cooper, who was sitting by the shoreline, and has a somewhat flirtatious relationship with Cyrus.

Township police officers were on hand as all this was unfolding, but their guns weren't drawn and their handcuffs weren't out, because Harley, Cyrus and Marina exist only in the soap opera "Guiding Light."

Soap-y waters

A crew of about 30 men and women, and three actors, Beth Ehlers, Murray Bartlett and Mandy Bruno, were at the lake to shoot 20 scenes for six episodes of the popular CBS daytime drama, the first of which will air Sept. 21 and run over a two-week span.

They shot scenes on a couple of docks on the private lake, as well as a motor boat that was rented from a Lake Hopatcong marina. A small contingent of fans -- only about 10 -- stood in the shade off to the side of the set, and that didn't go unnoticed by Bruno, 26.

"It's refreshing, the dedication of the fans here," she said in between shoots. "It's so humbling. It's so exciting to have support like that."

Devoted fans

Merle DelPolito was one such fan.

"I watched it with my mother since I was going to kindergarten," she said. "That was 30 years ago."

DelPolito, 56, who lives on Lake Shawnee, said it is the characters that have kept her addicted to the show for a half-century.

"You get attached to certain ones, and they feel like family," she said.

Curious locals, some who don't even watch the show, stopped by to watch the filming, while longtime fans were happy to get a glimpse of some of their favorite actors and even got to get their pictures taken with them.

"It's the storylines," said Lake Shawnee resident Janice Murray, 65, who also watches "As the World Turns."

"I'm fascinated with the writing, how they can come up with something new over all these years," she said.

A plot twist

"Guiding Light" ended up filming on the picturesque lakefront because of a wrong turn.

Rob Wolfe, the president of the Lake Shawnee Club, was approached by Ken Cowles, who was scouting locations for the show, after Cowles mistakenly turned the wrong way looking for Lake Hopatcong. He saw Lake Shawnee and knew he had found the right location.

Wolfe, who watched the activity Wednesday, said the club board met and voted to allow a motor boat to be used on the lake for the show. He said CBS made a donation to the club for its use of the beach and one of the beach houses.

The 77-acre lake is 2.6-miles in circumference, Wolfe said. There are 533 homes surrounding it.

Ehlers, 39, said that while the show is filmed predominately in New York City, outdoor shoots happen frequently.

"They're becoming more commonplace," she said during her lunch break.

20-year veteran

Ehlers said she began acting when she was 10, and first started on "Guiding Light" when she was 19. Despite taking a four-year break from the show starting in 1993, she's been on the show for 20 years.

"I was 19, I had been a child actor," she said, adding that she was in college and was able to land a movie role before coming to "Guiding Light."

"I think I can do this for a while, this is a nice gig," she said of her mindset at the time.

Ehlers has stayed loyal to the show that has given her an acting career spanning two decades and has earned her five Daytime Emmy nominations.

"I've always been on this show," she said. "I've been asked to be on other shows and I've always declined."

Daily routine

Cristin Callaghan, "Guiding Light's" publicist, said the usual workday begins with a dry rehearsal at 7 a.m. and taping begins at 9 a.m. Shooting usually concludes around 7 p.m. It is constantly filmed, too. CBS doesn't show reruns of "Guiding Light" in the summer.

"We do a show a day -- this is a little bit different," she said of coming to an off-set location.

"Back in New York we're still producing our normal show," she said, adding that the actors usually go through 80 pages of dialogue a day.

"Guiding Light" began in 1937 as a radio broadcast before transitioning to television. It's one of four daytime dramas filmed in New York City. Five are taped in Los Angeles.
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