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News for the week of 17-Dec-2012

by Carol Banks Weber

Congratulations to Kristoff St. John (Neil), Julia Pace Mitchell (Sofia), Angell Conwell (Leslie), and Tatyana Ali (Roxanne) for their NAACP Image Award nominations (in daytime), as announced last week. The NAACP Image Awards airs on NBC February 1, 8 p.m. EST.’s Jeevan Brar got three Y&R powerhouses (Christian LeBlanc/Michael, Jeff Branson/Ronan, and Elizabeth Hendrickson/Chloe) together for a breezy December 11th interview on the occasion of Kate Linder’s (Esther) beloved high tea for March of Dimes Canada. The news is nobody threw anyone in power under the bus (much) when the subject of regime changes and storyline disappointments came up.

LeBlanc smoothly praised the revolving regimes with a tough job to handle, while lifting up his current bosses, executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and head writer Josh Griffith: “I’ve had four or five [head writers and executive producers] since Bill [Bell, creator and former head writer/executive producer] and I’ve got to tell you, each one has given me something truly amazing to do. Anyone who throws their hat into that ring, it’s a huge job…and to recapture Bill Bell’s vibe, it was never going to be an easy succession. He was it. Genius is not common. We can all aspire to it, but they are very rare. Josh has worked on the show before. Jill, I had just met when she came on and I just love her to death, as I did Lynn [Marie Latham] and Maria. Again, it is the toughest job. You think we have pressure? Everyone breathing down their necks, ‘Be more like Bill. Make it as successful as Bill.’ That is not an easy job. I thank all of them, because they’ve given me personally a lot of wonderful things to do. I love Jill, I kind of like the chutzpah, and she’s got a very East Coast vibe. She’s on set. I walk out on the first show of the day and they are sitting there. Jill and Josh are both always on set. That is not a common thing, there are times that we have not seen our head writers for weeks and weeks. The proof is in the pudding. Let’s see what the ratings do. The fans will tell us. They’re the only ones that are ever important.”

As Branson got set to leave Y&R again after a scheduled short stint, he said he’d miss everyone there, which hasn’t always been the case with other gigs elsewhere. I’ve been lucky enough to work on a couple of shows and not all of them feel the way that The Young and the Restless feels. I love every one of my co-stars that I work directly with. Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) is incredible. Christian LeBlanc is just amazing to work with. They keep it real for me…they keep it rooted.” The elephant in the room has been and always will be that missed opportunity with Ronan’s mom, Tricia Cast’s Nina, as well as the Phyllis connection… lost and badly handled. Like the actor’s said before, “I feel like a big ball was dropped there and I don’t know who was responsible. Tricia Cast is a powerhouse of an actress. I deeply wish that she and I had more time. There’s so much story there that was never touched…so much. You could still bring the Chance character back [for it]. I’ve told Jill Farren Phelps that if she wants to call me, I’m right by the phone. If I come back, I would more than anything play out a story with Tricia Cast and really do the Phyllis/Ronan storyline properly, which I think was the way it was going…it was more loving and real. More than just hooking up and having beer and pizza. There was real potential there.”

Another missed opportunity certainly has been keeping Ronan apart from the fiery Chloe. But Hendrickson indicated excitement for her current storyline, brewing with a kind of realism most viewers can relate to. Chloe and Kevin will butt heads over finances. “We’re having a blast with the new storyline. Money is usually a common issue between couples. They’re kind of battling through this struggle. He’s trying to do his best to take care of the family and morally, it just doesn’t sit well with her. Especially with what he’s been through in the past.”

Kate Linder (Esther) has been hosting OpportuniTEAs for Independence, a high tea for the charity March of Dimes Canada, for 14, 15 years. It’s been an absolute pleasure for her to do. She hosted the highly attended December 2nd tea at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, with co-stars Christian LeBlanc (Michael), Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren), Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe), and Jeff Branson (Ronan). They volunteered their time to help Linder out – an act of kindness she won’t soon forget. “I don’t think people realize that they are not paid. A lot of these people can make a lot of money by doing personal appearances on the weekends, but these people donate their time and energy to come and help. I’m so grateful to them all.” MSN interview by Jeevan Brar, December 10, 2012

One of the hottest new talents to hit daytime, Robert Adamson (Noah), let a little of the casting cat out of the bag when he tweeted December 7 about Jhoanna Marissa: “@jhoannamarissa welcome to #YR. I'll keep it under wraps for now who she's playing. But she's doing a great job!” Follow Adamson on Twitter; he’s not another mindless mannequin. This talented young actor thinks beyond himself and cares. He’s funny too, joking about the inadvertent hot connection his character has with his on-screen mom, Sharon: “Be honest. All of you just love that me and @sharonlcase look like we're about to kiss every time I tell her I'm there for her. #weirdos ;)”

Jhoanna Flores was hired to portray Noah’s ex-girlfriend Adriana Stone from New York. She will show up first on January 4. Adriana is the type of firebrand who makes her own rules. She’ll use Noah to keep from going to prison.

Michael Muhney (Adam) gave fans and the Y&R Critic a thrill when he answered their questions for an in-depth interview. (Seems the actor is quite a Y&R Critic fan, giving an exclusive like this.) Muhney spoke about the Narcissist party lifestyle he stays away from as a working actor in L.A., sticking much closer to home with his dream family, as well as the difficulty of shaking some of his Y&R character’s darkness sometimes. His suggestions to improve soap storytelling resonated with many veteran fans: “Embrace the two-person scenes. Make the casts smaller, rather than larger. It’s easier for audiences to follow and relate to six stars on ‘Friends,’ not 46. And in the soap world, I think a cast should be no larger than 25-30. And lastly, a lot of care has to be taken to employ writers and actors who are immensely talented with each having the ability to carry a show on their own.” Will TPTB take heed?

CBS Daytime Senior Vice President Angelica McDaniel had a huge hand in the invasion of the young and the studly, in large part to fill the vacuum left behind by the stud himself, Shemar Moore (ex-Malcolm; Derek Morgan, Criminal Minds). She believes Redaric Williams (Tyler, Leslie’s brother) and Lamon Archey (Mason, new NE assistant) just might do the trick. Marco Dapper (Carmine) was salvaged after his on-screen squeeze Abby had to leave the show (she’ll return soon in a recurring capacity) to capitalize on his cad-with-a-heart-of-gold hotness. And Ignacio Serricchio (Det. Alex; ex-Diego, GH) was tapped to infuse some Latin charm, as McDaniel is a Latina herself. Here’s her set-up: “Everything will start firing on all cylinders soon. Some things will take a bit longer to play out on air for the audience to understand why certain decisions were made. But with Ignacio, he had worked in soaps before. Daytime fans know him from his work on General Hospital, and he has worked before with new Y&R executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps. With Redaric and Lamon, we were really looking for that void that has never quite been filled with the departure of Shemar Moore as Malcom. When Shemar left the show, there was that opening that was never properly been filled. We really were looking for a very specific man to fill those big shoes… and we found two of them! So we had an extensive audition process. We went through seeing a lot of gentlemen and very talented guys. When we saw both Redaric and Lamon, we thought right away that we needed to have these two guys on Y&R, and we are so happy to have them. So yes, we were looking to fill one role and this may be the first time that they may be hearing this! (Laughs)”

So far, so good. Williams knows he lucked out with co-stars Angell Conwell (Leslie), who plays his sister, and Kristoff St. John (Neil), who’s gonna be his boss. From day one, St. John took over the reins as the veteran welcoming committee. “He is the guy who took me around and told me, ‘Don’t do this … don’t do that … and here is this.’ He has a balance of authenticity and professionalism about him. I found him open and very receptive.” It’s uncertain right now as to whether Williams’ new character, Tyler, a graphic designer from the streets (graffiti artist originally) will turn out bad or good. Chances are, he’ll be good, just misunderstood. But the actor doesn’t mind turning out the bad a little, as everyone knows bad guys are more interesting to play and chicks dig ‘em.

Read more of the December 13th Michael Fairman round table interview, where Lamon Archey (Mason) gets into the details of nervously shooting his first scenes with veteran Emmy winner, an equally nervous (it reassured him!) Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) — seen last week— along with his other job as an animal tech, from “poop guy.”

Gossip for the week of 17-Dec-2012

by Carol Banks Weber

Y&R dropped to a “new low” in the ratings for the prized women 18-49 demographic the week of December 3rd, as posted by Soap Opera Network’s Xavier Toups December 14th. This doesn’t bode well so far for the promised improvements of the new regime. But it makes sense, considering the dark dreck fans have been tortured with in the past few weeks. Making Billy grovel like Victoria’s bitch, raising up a scowling, cold fish of a bitch like Victoria as some tortured romantic heroine, turning Adam into a pathological liar and reducing his anti-hero qualities as an convenient way to trash an ill-conceived rushed pairing with Chelsea, continuing to give the Newmans special treatment while Jack’s made to look like a drug addled cliché, that dreadful housewarming party — the real, unintended bullying storyline, forcing a romantic pairing between Nick and the boring milquetoast Avery… the list goes on. The only saving grace last week was Noah’s scene with his mom, where he shakily, but bravely offered up himself as her living touchstone. That actor is quite a find.

Angell Conwell (Leslie) is a goddess.

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