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News for the week of 30-Jul-2012

by Carol Banks Weber

GH’s former executive producer Jill Farren Phelps will take over Maria Arena Bell’s post at Y&R. Josh Griffith (ATWT, OLTL, GH, Y&R) will also be the soap’s new head writer. One of MAB’s co-head writers, Scott Hamner, left his post beats before last week’s new regime announcement.

Y&R longtime head honcho Maria Arena Bell apparently had no idea this shake-up was coming. She’d Facebooked – right after the Sony/CBS announcement – that she was “mystified” by the firing. Here is her FB statement: “So it was announced today [July 26, 2012] I am leaving Y and R… the show I have loved so much for so long. It is the legacy of my father in law… my mother in law… and all the Bells. The show has been my heart and soul. I loved working with the most talented writers in TV who were also the most wonderful human beings I know. They became a second family and my best friends. I loved the cast and crew. I am extremely sad to go because there are more stories I could have told. So much more I wanted to do. My ratings are strong… each week stronger than last year. The show is in a great place creatively. We are number one by the greatest margin in the show’s history and have been consistently while I’ve been there. Under no one else’s tenure as head writer exec producer have we won every demographic for so long. I am just shy of five years at the helm. It has been an amazing ride. So why am I leaving? I am mystified as are my cast and crew.” According to MAB on her FB, a lot of the core cast were stunned, and not in a good way, by her sudden firing. “And then Eric Braeden who was choking back tears himself to the point he could barely speak said that my leaving was a travesty that made no sense and that, ‘This is the end of an era.’ In that moment I could feel my heart break a little... but I also felt that the commitment I had to that show... the seven day a week fifty two week a year craziness of it all was worth it... because I was part of the history of something truly great.”

Jeanne Cooper’s (Katherine) memoir, “Not Young Still Restless,” is due out in bookstores all over the nation July 31. The veteran actress plans on going to a few book signings to promote the memoir. She’ll be at Northvale, N.J.’s Books And Greetings July 31, 7 p.m.; Bloomington, MN’s Mall of America’s the Rotunda August 2, 6:30 p.m.; and L.A.’s Book Soup August 7, 7 p.m.

Jeanne Cooper dished a bit from her published memoirs with good friend Melissa Parker for Smashing Interviews Magazine, July 23. Her personal life could make up two volumes: getting molested as a child, dealing with a philandering husband, overcoming alcoholism. But it’s the juicy tidbits from her time on Y&R that will truly excite fans. Did you know she and Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) had a fallout? (They’re fine now.) “She never even refers to that period nor will she ever explain it. I don’t think she ever will. But, I wasn’t the only one. She did that to other people, and nobody knows why.” Or how about Cooper’s habit of groping her male co-stars, even Eric Braeden (Victor)? “I pinched Josh Morrow in the middle of a scene when he was talking. I’m standing beside him, and I pinched him. It’s so funny because he just kept going on with his speech and then whispers to me, ‘A little farther to the left.’ He was marvelous! He doesn’t jump or anything like the others do … like Eric Braeden does. You would think that somebody was raping him in a scene when I would pinch him!” Read more of the interview. She has good insight into what’s wrong with soaps, like the crazy move of getting rid of Eileen Davidson (Ashley) without a thought, and that travesty called the Daytime Emmys.

Y&R celebrates its 10,000th episode with a special panel discussion August 23 at the Beverly Hills’ Paley Center for Media. The event is open to the public and features panelists Eric Braeden (Victor), Peter Bergman (Jack), Christian LeBlanc (Michael), Doug Davidson (Paul), Jeanne Cooper (Katherine), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), Michelle Stafford (Phyllis), Kristoff St. John (Neil), and Joshua Morrow (Nick). Cost to attend is only $15. Tickets went on sale July 28.

Gossip for the week of 30-Jul-2012

by Carol Banks Weber

Reaction was mixed to the news that Jill Farren Phelps would replace head writer/executive producer Maria Arena Bell. Phelps, who had run a tight ship over at OLTL and GH, and earlier, Santa Barbara, GL, and AW, arrives at Y&R with some controversial baggage. Depending on who you ask, JFP is either a godsend or death warmed over. Time will tell. Fact is, she came under fire from OLTL and GH critics and fans for alleged ageism and favoritism.

The Soap Whisperer tweeted July 27 that the days of MAB letting stars run the show are over. JFP doesn’t play that game. “So with JFP coming in you can bet your bottom dollar there will be changes. There is a list of folks they want gone from the show.”

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