Susan Ward as Meg Cummings (1997)
|Sunset Beach character|
|Portrayed by||Susan Ward (1997–99)
Sydney Penny (1999)
|First appearance||January 6, 1997|
|Last appearance||December 31, 1999|
|Created by||Robert Guza, Jr.|
|Introduced by||Gary Tomlin, Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent|
|Home||Sunset Beach, California|
Sydney Penny as Meg Cummings (1999)
Meg Cummings is a fictional character from the US NBC soap opera Sunset Beach, played by Susan Ward. Meg was the serial's protagonist throughout the whole run. Sydney Penny temporarily took over the role while Ward was filming for the film The In Crowd.
Susan Ward was cast into the role of Meg after her agent submitted her for the role. Ward was already known to series creator Aaron Spelling after starring in his series Malibu Shores. Ward requested "to be put up for the nice girl", via her agent. She also said she preferred playing "nice girl" Meg more than mean characters she had previously played. Ward began filming a role in the 2000 film, The In Crowd. While she had to leave on a temporary basis, Sydney Penny took over for one month, until Ward returned. The serial's creator, Spelling, was impressed with Penny's portrayal of Meg so he cast her into another series he created.
|“||She thought she would meet her handsome friend and immediately ride off into the sunset. Yet as soon as she walked on the beach, she had her backpack stolen. She began to realize things were not as easy as she expected.||”|
Meg is featured in the first scenes of Sunset Beach. Her storyline sees her arrive from Kansas to escape her unfaithful fiance Tim Truman (Dax Griffin) and find a man she has been talking to over the internet, Ben Evans (Clive Robertson). However, Meg is not aware of Ben's identity. Ward said that Meg is just a "small town girl" who "follows her heart". Meg wants to "find out what the world has to offer", finding out the identity of her internet romance is the "first thing she has ever been passionate about."
After leaving her fiancé Tim at the altar, Meg travelled to Sunset Beach to find a man she had been chatting with over the Internet. Without any knowledge as to that person's real identity, Meg slowly got to know the residents of the town, people who helped her when she fell off a pier after trying to catch a girl that stole her backpack. She took a job at a local bar owned by Ben, a lonely widower, and soon realized Ben was actually her Internet soul mate. The two began to fall in love, but things didn't go as smoothly when Ben's neighbor Annie Douglas (Sarah Buxton) decided she wanted Ben for herself, and was prepared to stop at nothing to achieve that. Meg also learned that her ex-fiancé Tim had followed her to Sunset Beach, though she had no idea that he was helping Annie to damage her relationship with Ben,
In one of their crazy attempts to break the couple, Annie and Tim lured Meg to cave that later caved in, without realizing that Ben had followed her. The couple made love for the first time, but Meg had no idea Ben was delirious, thinking that he was making love to his late wife Maria Torres Evans. Annie's plot revealed that Ben had no memory of making love to Meg, and a hurt Meg decided to return to Kansas. Ben refused to give up and he followed Meg, convincing her to return. Annie's scheming continued throughout the series.
While spending the holidays on a private island, Meg and her friends were attacked by a mysterious murderer. The murderer was revealed to be Ben, but once the terror was over, it turned out that Ben was being impersonated by his twin brother Derek Evans (Clive Robertson), who was holding Ben captive in an abandoned warehouse. Meg had no idea she was being scammed until she found a picture of Ben and Derek together. After a final showdown, Derek was presumed dead, and Meg and Ben resumed their happiness and started planning their wedding. However their happiness was short-lived, as Ben's presumed-dead wife Maria arrived at their wedding - alive, but suffering from amnesia.
Ben struggled to decide between the two women he loved, a situation complicated when a strange woman, Tess Marin (Tracy Melchior), claiming to have been Maria's close friend during the years she could not remember, arrived with a child, Benjy, she claimed was Ben and Maria's son. DNA testing confirmed that Benjy was Ben's son, and for a time Ben, Meg, Maria, Tess and Benjy all lived under one roof. Meg eventually broke up with Ben, and found comfort in her close friend Casey Mitchum (Timothy Adams), who had recently broken up with her sister Sara Cummings (Shawn Batten). Meg and Casey eventually broke up, realizing that they were better off as friends. Ben then started acting strangely, committing to Maria and their son yet chasing Meg at the same time. However it was revealed that Ben had once again been kidnapped by Derek, and that Benjy was Derek and Tess's son, conceived as part of a plan to murder Ben and Maria and have Benjy inherit his money. Tim discovered Derek's identity, and was murdered by Derek. Maria was the second to discover Derek's identity, leading to Derek imprisoning her with Ben. During their imprisonment, they talked and Maria realized and accepted that Meg was Ben's true love. Next, Casey and Sara discovered Derek, and were duly also taken prisoner. Finally Maria's mother Carmen asked Meg for help, leading to her searching Ben's house and also discovering Derek's identity. Meg attempted to overpower Derek by pretending to seduce him in order to grab his gun, but soon found herself prisoner too. With Ben's help, Maria managed to escape and overpower Tess, leading to a mass fight between the two captors and five prisoners, which resulted in Derek being shot and killed. Tess was jailed, and Maria decided to adopt Benjy, the child she regarded as her own son. The series culminated with a romantic double wedding between Ben and Meg, and their friends Vanessa Hart (Sherri Saum) and Michael Bourne (Jason Winston George). In the final episode, Meg awoke from a dream to realize that she was still in Kansas and that her life in Sunset Beach was all a dream - then awoke in bed with Ben in Sunset Beach, and realized that that was a dream, and her life in Sunset Beach with Ben was reality.
In 1998, Meg and Ben were nominated in the category of "Best Couple" at the Soap Opera Digest Awards. Michael Saunders of The Boston Globe said that if you watched the serial, you just watched "the adventures of Meg Cummings, the headstrong lass who left Kansas for Sunset Beach." Candace Havens of the Kingman Daily Miner opined that the character set the "tone and pace" of Sunset Beach. In 2011, Bibsy M. Carballo of The Philippine Star said the growing trend of destroying wedding dresses against tradition in the Philippines, originated from Meg destroying her dress. The Daily Record said that Meg's final dream sequence was "possibly the best" ever one featured in the soap, adding that it was unmissable. While Merle Brown from the publication said the love triangle storyline with Meg, Ben and Maria lasted for too long. As Sunset Beach made no "excuses" about the duration of the storyline, Brown said it was one of the serial's qualities.
Darrin Farrant of The Age said that Meg seemed like a "naive" character. He added that "poor Meg" had no idea Ben was her internet lover and opined that because Sunset Beach story pace seemed slow it would probably "unfold over many episodes". While his Age colleague, Simon Hughes, said that Meg was a "country mouse" in comparison to her "city cousin", Tiffany Thorne (Adrienne Frantz). He opined that Meg's "inarticulateness" was part of her charm.
- M. Reichardt, Nancy (30 March 1997). "Ex-vixen Ward prefers new `nice girl' role". Austin American-Statesman. (Cox Enterprises). Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- Beck, Marilyn (24 July 1997). "Meet 'Sunset Beach's' couple-to-be". Manila Standard. (Kamahalan Publishing Corporation). Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- Havens, Candace (26 July 1999). "Switching stars no day at the 'Beach'". New York Post. (News Corporation). Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- Havens, Candace (31 December 1999). "New writer at 'OLTL' ; Hall not always on 'Days'". The Daily Courier. (Prescott Newspapers).
- Susan, Ward. "Kansas Girl". Soap Opera Magazine. Archived from the original on 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- O'Connor, John J. (15 January 1997). "Looking for Someone On a Crowded Shore". The New York Times. (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- Woods, Mark G. (1 August 1999). "The Soaps: Their Sex, Gratifications, and Outcomes". The Journal of Sex Research. (Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality). Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- "Daytime Television's Brightest Stars Selected; Nominations for 15th Soap Opera Digest Awards Announced; Fans Can Vote for Their Favorites.". PR Newswire. (UBM plc). 13 November 1998. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- Saunders, Michael. "Spelling's `Sunset Beach' is just a low-tide soap". The Boston Globe. (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- Havens, Candace (3 January 1997). "Sunset Beach: Spelling takes dive into daytime". Kingman Daily Miner. (Western News & Info Inc.). Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- M. Carballo, Bibsy (15 January 2011). "Will 'Trash the Dress' trend destroy wedding tradition?". The Philippine Star. (PhilStar Daily, Inc.). Retrieved 13 October 2011.
- "SOAP of the week; Sunset Beach, Ch5, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 10.20am.". Daily Record. (Trinity Mirror). 26 February 2000. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- Brown, Merle (13 March 1999). "Soap watch; An old favourite returns to haunt the Close.". Daily Record. (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- Farrant, Darrin (2 April 1997). "Sunset Beach". The Age. (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 16 October 2011.
- Hughes, Simon (6 April 1997). "Sub-Baywatch beaches". The Age. (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 16 October 2011.