What a difference five years makes. When I first started blogging for Daytime Confidential, I applauded The Young and the Restless' leading man Eric Braeden (Victor) for speaking out in the press. We soap lovers have a tendency to support the actors during backstage drama. After all, they're the ones who come into our living rooms every day, so they have to be right. Right? Not always.
One contract negotiation drama too many, alongside his head-in-the-sand defense of disastrous, socialite showrunner Maria Arena Bell, has me saying enough is enough. In the August 27 issue of CBSSoaps In Depth, Braeden blows hard about how wrong Bell's much-needed ouster is for the show. Said Braeden:
"I have no idea why the changes were made, he adds, shaking his head. "The powers in charge have their reasons, but I found it completely upsetting!'
Uh, since when do Sony TV Prexy Steve Kent and/or CBS Daytime Chief Angelica McDaniel owe Braeden any explanation for what they're doing to try to save this show? Of course Braeden finds the firing of a head writer/executive producer, who co-signed Victor getting to bed one 30-something woman after another on this soap opera, "upsetting". I can bet you one thing, Braeden's current leading lady, Sharon Case (Sharon) doesn't feel the same way!
And please, spare me the invocation of the Bill Bell legacy everytime you want to speak about why giving MAB the boot was wrong. The late, great Bell would have been mortified at "So Long, Sister Killer"; Greg Rikaart being dressed as a chipmunk to rob banks and Kay Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) and her 100-year-old husband flying a plane to the rescue on this serial, among countless other MAB storyline stink bombs.
I have long been a proponent of supporting daytime's veteran players—and will continue to do so—but there is something very wrong about a show called "The Young and the Restless" where a 70-something megalomaniac (Victor, not Eric), who never loses, is still driving every freaking story. It isn't 1988 anymore.
Look at TNT's brilliant reboot of Dallas. JR (Larry Hagman), Bobby (Patrick Duffy), Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) and Cliff (Ken Kercheval) are still viable, but the action has been masterfully refocused on their offspring. Y&R must do the same thing if it wants to stay on the air.
That doesn't mean vapid stories for Valley Girl Summer or dim-witted villain-in-training Daisy (Yvonne Zima). It means sexy, smart stories, driven by the dynamic actors representing the next generation of Newmans, Abbotts, Chancellors, Winters, etc, with their parents and grandparents along for the ride.
It makes absolutely no sense that billionaire Nicholas Newman (Joshua Morrow) still has to go to his daddy, hat in hand, when Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) gets into trouble for a pesky hit-and-run 20 years ago. Or, that even after causing his daughter Victoria (Amelia Heinle) to lose custody of one child after another, Victor still gets to "win" every scene with her by hissing about "how dare" Vicki be mad at her father, or have the audacity to speak to him that way. I think if my dad hired a hooker to drug and sleep with my spouse, I'd be allowed to at least win one argument with him!
We all know Braeden allegedly demands those scenes to end this way. It's the biggest non-secret in the industry that the actor won't allow his character to be spoken to in a certain manner, which makes for absolutely no dramatic impact to his storylines. if Braeden had been cast in the new Dallas, he would have likely made Cynthia Cidre re-write the scene where John Ross (Josh Henderson) threatened to put JR in a home. Or, he would have ad-libbed: "How DARE YOU?! I will put YOU in a HOME! Got that?"
When no one can ever best Victor in a scene or a business deal, where's the fun in watching? It's a sad day when Bobby or Cliff can take down JR for an entire season on the most popular soap opera of all time, but Jack (Peter Bergman) nor Adam (Michael Muhney) ever beat TGVN for more than a couple of weeks on Y&R.
When Y&R's ratings were better, I was okay with Braeden's blustering, bellowing and holding this show hostage. Not anymore. If he can't learn to be a team player on an ensemble soap opera, then I can't think of any producer better to show him just how dispensable a former soap superstar can be than one Jill Farren Phelps...