The love affair between two young men on the venerable CBS soap opera As the World Turns has triggered a protest campaign by angry viewers — but not the sort you might expect.
Fans of the fictional romance between Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer are baffled about why the two characters haven't kissed onscreen since September, wondering whether it's a sign of squeamishness by CBS or show sponsors Procter & Gamble Co., based in Cincinnati.
The fans have started a letter-writing campaign, posted an online petition and even have a Web site, http://noahandluke.com, that counts the days, hours, minutes and seconds since Luke and Noah last locked lips.
Roger Newcomb, a computer worker from New York's northern suburbs, started the campaign
As the World Turns, which premiered in 1956, had the first gay male character in daytime drama, in 1988. Last August was another milestone, thought to be the first time that two gay men kissed on a soap, when Luke surprised Noah with the sign of affection.
They kissed again in September, when Noah was coming to grips with being gay.
Fans first sensed the new attitude in late December, during a scene when the two men proclaimed their love for one another. As they were about to kiss, the camera panned up and focused on some Christmas mistletoe.
”I've been watching soaps for decades,“ Newcomb said, ”and that doesn't happen.“
Valentine's Day featured fantasy sequences involving several of the show's couples. All the stories ended in a kiss, except for Luke and Noah's. They hugged.
That's when the campaign started.
The soap is owned, produced and written by Procter & Gamble Productions Inc., a subsidiary of the consumer giant. CBS executives consult on the series, but P&G sets the creative direction.
There's no kissing ban, said Jeannie Tharrington, spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble Productions. She said the mistletoe shot was a ”creative decision.“
Barbara Bloom, CBS senior vice president for daytime, said there was ”minimal“ negative reaction from viewers about the story line, although she couldn't define what that meant. There apparently was no organized campaign against the kissing.
The Luke-and-Noah story's popularity complicates matters. Some 140 scenes featuring the two actors, Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann, are posted online. WhileOne Life to Live and Days of Our Lives have seen double-digit drops in viewership in the past year, As the World Turns is down only 2 percent.