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News for the week of 18-May-2015

by Carol Banks Weber

When Michael Logan’s May 7th TV Insider interview (Part 1) with co-executive producers Jill Farren Phelps and newly ensconced head writer Chuck Pratt Jr. came out May 7, people were up in arms about their callous disregard for fans and cluelessness about what Bill Bell would’ve wanted for his beloved soap opera. Yet, Phelps and Pratt made a whole lot of sense considering Y&R’s been a snoozefest for decades with characters doing nothing but standing there posing for the supercouple squish groups. Phelps/Pratt’s job is to shake things up, right? Invent something new, right? Get people talking, right? Job well done. Pratt said he’s not coming in there to be Bill Bell, and rightly not. “Look, when I came to All My Children, with its creator, Agnes Nixon, right there in front of me, I knew there was no way I could duplicate what she did. And the same goes for Bill Bell. You can honor and respect these geniuses, and identify those thematic elements that made their work great and try to keep those elements alive in the storytelling, but you can't sit there and try to duplicate genius. You'd have to be crazy to try. At this point in my life, I'm not looking for jobs for the sake of jobs or to make money to buy a new house. I'm looking for the challenge. I would not have come onto this show if CBS had said, ‘Y&R is doing great. Just keep it that way.’”

And what’s with this co-executive producer jazz? It just means Pratt gets a little more say in the proceedings than a head writer, which is fine by Phelps. Here’s the excerpt:

>> Pratt: That title comes from my being in primetime where, off and on for the last eight or nine years, I have been an executive producer. What comes with that title is a level of inclusion, a level that sometimes you don't have as a head writer in daytime, and also a level of power and respect at the network and with Jill.

Phelps: I'm not the boss of him and he's not the boss of me.

Pratt: It's something I felt I deserved. I have definitely earned it. And it gives actors more access to me, and I want that. Many head writers in daytime don't want that access. They are terrified of actors. I'm the opposite. I really respect them. Even the bad ones I find interesting. I get what they're going through and how hard it is.

Phelps: The actors were very protective of me when Chuck arrived. They were concerned that I was somehow diminished by this. But we are true collaborators in every sense. And when I don't want to do something now, I say to Chuck, “You do it! You go fight that battle.” <<

In Part 2 of Michael Logan’s May 13th TV Insider interview, Pratt and Phelps delve into the details of upcoming stories they’ve planned, including using Ashley more and possibly pursuing a Neil/Nikki match-up. Then, there’s the quirky matter of Abby and the drama of Summer. This is how Pratt sees them: “I want to set up Ashley to be an equal to Jack and Victor, and I also see a great mother-daughter story for her as we move forward. Melissa Ordway [Abby] has a great energy and is a lively voice for the future of Y&R. Hunter King [Summer] can deliver the pathos every second, but Melissa brings something fun and goofy—Robin Mattson has that same gift—and for a writer that's exciting. Abby's crazy relationship with Austin really woke me up. I was, like, ‘Wow! This actress can work with anybody on the show.’ That is my sick goal for every character. I want to build the show in such a way that we can put any two characters together in a scene and there will be a connection. They will have something of significance to talk about.”

CBS Soaps In Depth (May 15, 2015) also got into the act by picking the new Y&R co-executive producer/head writer’s brain for the key behind his creative madness amidst such fan-troversy. Here’s an excerpt from the SID Q&A found online: “Right away when I came in, I got the usual hate stuff. For a second, it kind of affects you! People don't realize it, but they're attacking my confidence. And if I start doubting myself on day four, we're in real trouble! The viewers that have watched Y&R every day for years are entitled to a strong opinion, but I don't like the personal stuff about other shows. Quite frankly it [ticks] me off. This shouldn't be about other shows, it's about this show. And if I do a good job, and please [the fans], ratings will go up. If I don't do a good job, I won't be doing the job long.”

Greg Rikaart (Kevin) married his longtime boyfriend, TV writer Robert Sudduth. Sudduth wrote The Crazy Ones, which didn’t last long, and Red Band Society, which was critically acclaimed.

In the April 30th Gay Star News feature by Greg Hernandez, Emmy-winning actor Greg Rikaart (Kevin) expressed a desire to play his Y&R character as a gay man coming out. Rikaart, who is gay and came out himself in 2013, recently married his boyfriend and thought the story possibilities would be “super interesting… to tell. I think it would be more socially responsible than just bringing on a gay character — to have someone on the canvas that the audience knows and thinks of as family and takes that (coming out) journey.” Rikaart played head writer for the interview and added that it could work considering Kevin’s shaky history with women. Judging by Part 1 of Michael Logan’s TV Insider, it doesn’t look like a gay story will be likely as long as Phelps is in charge.

Y&R’s former co-head writer Jean Passanante quit the soap recently. Before Charles Pratt Jr. came on the premises, she and Shelly Altman held the head-writing reigns. Don’t worry about Passanante. On May 15, she tweeted that she’d returned to GH’s writing team.

Love her or hate her, but even co-executive producer Jill Farren Phelps has a point when she pointed out a possible “flaw in the system” over at the Daytime Emmys. TV Insider’s Michael Logan wasn’t the only industry expert to question the competitiveness of nominating all four existing soaps in the outstanding show category recently. In a May 5th post-Emmys interview with Daytime Confidential’s correspondent, Sara Bibel, Phelps said, “It’s wonderful to win... No one understands what we do better than those of us who do it. [But if] it’s a four way tie for everything, it’s anyone’s guess who’s going to win…. I think there’s a flaw in the system… We’re who we have left. We need to keep this medium strong.”

CBS/Sony Pictures responded to Victoria Rowell’s (ex-Dru) lawsuit by filing a motion to dismiss her claims of discrimination and vengeance for speaking out about a lack of diversity in soaps. Breaking into the lawyer-ese, CBS/Sony Pictures claimed that casting decisions fall under the First Amendment’s freedom of speech act. For more of the headache-inducing details, check out the May 15th CBS Soaps In Depth article.

Gossip for the week of 18-May-2015

by Carol Banks Weber

SoapHub’s Carol Boorom broke down the Victoria Rowell v. CBS/Sony Pictures case in terms the fans could understand in “Is CBS Sabotaging Victoria Rowell?” Boorom basically sided with Rowell by pointing to the proof of the actress’s popularity with fans, still. Here’s the convincing case Boorom makes: “A statement made sort of sums up the situation, ‘This lawsuit is nothing more than a blatant attempt by Plaintiff to force her way back onto a daytime television soap opera after she voluntarily resigned from her role in 2007,’ CBS and Sony say in the papers. Well I think everyone gets that is true, but what would be so bad about having Dru back? Nothing! They writer’s certainly can’t seem to get a decent love interest for poor Neil, so I say if this lady wants her job back so bad, let her have it.”

Young and the Restless News & Gossip, Copyright © 2015 Carol Banks Weber. Published by / Jeff Jungblut. No part of this page may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. Opinions expressed on this page are those of the author and may not be representative of or its advertisers. Don't steal scoops.