The soap world is still reeling from the May 8 passing of actress Jeanne Cooper. Fans of the beloved grand dame have been wondering what will happen to her iconic character, Katherine "Kay" Chancellor on The Young and the Restless. TV Guide Magazine’sMichael Logan spoke with Y&R’s executive producer Jill Farren Phelps, who gave the inside scoop on how the soap will deal with both the passings of Cooper and Kay.
TV Guide Magazine: Tell us about the plans to honor her on air, and what you plan to do about her character.
Phelps: We're going to have the actors closest to Jeanne — probably 25 in all — sit in the Chancellor mansion set and tell stories and reminisce about her life, as themselves. We'll serve tea and let everyone talk and cry and laughs and share and we'll find the best photos and clips we can get our hands on and edit it all together into a beautiful celebration episode. This is all for Jeanne. And then later we will deal with the death of Kay Chancellor. We've already written the show into July, so it will take some time before we can address her departure on air. In the meantime, there will be references in the script that Katherine and her husband Murphy are off somewhere on a trip.
Phelps also clears up any rumors about a possible Kay recast.
TV Guide Magazine: Was there any thought to handling this the way Brad Bell dealt with the death of Darlene Conley on The Bold and the Beautiful — by sending her character, Sally Spectra, gallivanting around the world, leaving us with the comforting feeling that she'll always be out there somewhere?
Phelps: We decided, for the sake of the audience and the characters, that it was important to have closure with Kay. And, contrary to rumors, we never gave a thought to recasting the role — not for a minute! Y&R was forced to do it when Jeanne was out ill for a bit a couple of years ago, when she was replaced by Michael Learned. But that was a temporary situation. You cannot replace the irreplaceable. The greatest way to honor Jeanne is to make Kay's exit as dramatic and meaningful as possible.
To find out more about Y&R's hour-long send off to Cooper on May 28, click here!