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News for the week of 21-Jan-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Sharon Case (Sharon) deserves an Emmy for her acting the past year. She received Soap Opera Uncensored’s version of it when Nelson Branco presented her with the “Entertainer Of The Year” honors January 12. In Branco’s subsequent interview, the easygoing actress approved heartily of her character’s bi-polar redemption in the hands of head writer Josh Griffith. Since the diagnosis first came to light on-screen, appreciative viewers—many of them suffering from or affected by the disorder personally—came forward to share with her their wish for more on this story. Case thinks the bi-polar explanation for her character is the perfect fit and the perfect way to validate those in the audience who can relate. “Playing someone who is bipolar is very exhausting but it worked out perfectly and explained all of Sharon’s past behavior,” Case said. “I applaud Josh for making that decision because I think it makes the most sense considering her history. Sharon’s always been kind of off. Sharon’s always experienced these weird jags…. I’m just glad we have a reason behind Sharon’s [psyche] so we can even have more fun with it. The reaction is that fans are thrilled and relieved that Sharon’s mental state is being addressed — and that it’s being written so well. I’ve gotten a lot of comments from fans about how bipolar disorder has affected their own families, which has been very rewarding. Most of the fans want the storyline to continue because Sharon’s journey has really touched them. The fact that the show opted to go in this brave, realistic route with Sharon has been meant a lot to them. I’m proud to be a part of this storyline.” –as re-posted on Michael Fairman’s site

To hear Steve Burton (Dylan McAvoy; ex-Jason, GH) tell it, he never said he was planning to retire from acting, he just needed a little break. He would’ve continued to act after that break anyway, most likely in primetime and films. Y&R came to him first with a juicy deal that allowed him an easier work schedule, a lot easier than GH’s, as the short-term new character set to reunite with Avery. So he took it. “I'll get a lot of long weekends and frequent weeks off so I can get back to Nashville. I don't want to work five days a week like I did at GH. [Laughs] I was on the air so much even I was sick of me!” Burton told TV Guide’s Michael Logan in a January 15th interview. Burton denied leaving GH because of any dissatisfaction with the storyline (amidst rumors of the diluting of the mob with the new, OLTL regime). It was, instead, the time factor. “I don't feel it had anything to do with story. The flying back and forth was the sticking point. If I was still living in California, I'd still be with GH. It was too difficult production-wise to work things out and I understand that. I know how the business works and I'm not going to get mad over it. I don't want a show to break its back for one actor. It's not right. Besides, it really felt like it was time for me to go. I was gracious. They were gracious. There are no hard feelings with me and [exec producer] Frank Valentini.” Burton will play a returning soldier who once loved Avery, starting January 29.

Executive producer Jill Farren Phelps saw an opportunity to bring Steve Burton (ex-Jason, GH) into a new role (battle-weary war vet Dylan McAvoy), and took it. Cognizant of the smaller budget and an established ensemble of beloved veterans and promising newcomers, as well as Burton’s challenging schedule, Phelps made some easy adjustments to make it all work. The role itself would’ve gone to the best actor regardless of Burton’s availability, she said, in another TV Guide/Michael Logan interview. Luckily, she and her team were able to give Burton a much looser schedule than he had at GH as a leading character always on the frontburner (she would know, she used to helm that show before moving over to Y&R). The role of Dylan McAvoy is a short-term one, but he will be the spark to several main characters as he moves around from former girlfriend Avery and her boyfriend Nick, to Sharon.

Just call Phelps the magician for scoring the casting coup of the century, shortly after Burton left GH to completely relocate himself and his family to Nashville and take a much-needed break. Despite rumors that cast her as the Wicked Witch of the West for stealing Burton away from GH, “[w]e didn't start talking seriously until about five weeks ago. We put out the character breakdown for Dylan McAvoy and we were seeing actors for the role. I just kept thinking how great Steve would be in the part but, at first, it was just a dream. I talked to his manager and we were able to make it work out so that Steve could continue to have the life he wants in Nashville. Plus, Steve loved the idea of playing a character very different from Jason Morgan.” According to Phelps, had she remained the GH executive producer, Burton wouldn’t have had any issue with time off, because she gave him that luxury. “… we did work out a schedule for him to fly back and forth when I was still there. He has long wanted to be in Nashville. This is not some capricious thing with him.” Phelps’ decision to cast a reportedly expensive soap star in the role has come under fire. What about the budget? Is Burton why so many vets, including Genie Francis (ex-Genevieve; Laura, GH), Debbi Morgan (ex-Harmony; ex-Angie, AMC), and now, Stephen Nichols (soon-to-be-ex-Tucker; ex-Stefan, GH; ex-Patch, DOOL), were given pink slips? Phelps didn’t really give much of a justifiable answer in Michael Logan’s January 14th interview. To wit, the excerpt:

>> TV Guide Magazine: We know Burton doesn't come cheap.
Phelps: I'm not going to get into that.

TV Guide Magazine:How did you afford him when your mandate is to cut the budget at Y&R? Did you drop Stephen Nichols [Tucker] from the show in order to pay for Burton?
Phelps: Absolutely not. I know that's what people are going to think, but no. I love Stephen Nichols. He's a wonderful actor. I'm sorry we couldn't make it work out with him.

TV Guide Magazine: Meaning you did offer him some sort of deal he didn't accept?
Phelps: It wouldn't be right for me to discuss that. You'll have to talk to Stephen. <<

As for how Phelps intended to head off any resentment and jealousy from the established cast, the executive producer downplayed the Steve Burton fanfare as merely a smart, casting decision, while playing up the benefits, for the show and the incoming actor. “I'll do anything in my power to not have the cast pissed at me. I love this cast!” she said. “We don't shoot Mondays, and we'll collapse Steve's material into fewer days so he'll have several long weekends. Then we have several dark weeks per year. It's not that big of an accommodation. And, let me tell you, getting Steve is a big shot in the arm for Y&R. People there are very happy to see him. And he's very, very happy to do something different. [Laughs] He has new hair! And he's actually going to be wearing colors other than black!”

Gossip for the week of 21-Jan-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Despite the (damage control) interviews by Steve Burton (Dylan; ex-Jason, GH) and his former GH boss, the current, new Y&R EP Jill Farren Phelps, nobody is buying what they’re trying so hard to sell. Phelps, especially, comes off specious in Michael Logan’s January 14th TV Guide interview by dancing around the subject of hiring a big, expensive star like Burton when Y&R is supposed to cut costs. She didn’t want to address that at all, and completely downplayed Stephen Nichols (Tucker) leaving at around the same time, with the usual corporate statement, “I love Stephen Nichols. He's a wonderful actor. I'm sorry we couldn't make it work out with him.” Did JFP cut several big names in the cast to make room for her friend Burton? And will the real Y&R cast members resent Burton for waltzing in on his easy, breezy, short-term schedule while enjoying such a prominent promotion? JFP isn’t helping with these sorts of answers: “It's not that big of an accommodation. And, let me tell you, getting Steve is a big shot in the arm for Y&R. People there are very happy to see him.” I guess Michael Muhney (Adam) and Christian LeBlanc (Michael) are chopped liver.

Another FOJ (Friend of Jill Farren Phelps, new Y&R EP), Kale Browne (ex-Sam Rappaport, OLTL), showed up at the studio recently, according to Mark Pinter’s (Marcus, the congressman) Twitter. Both Browne and Pinter were on AW at one point as Michael and Grant. It is not known why Browne was there. No comment.

If you already hate that ball-buster Victoria, trust me, you will hate her even more in the next few weeks leading into February Sweeps. She will turn into the very embodiment of Victor Newman, as she helps her father get back Newman Enterprises by any means necessary.

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