Daytime fans and pundits have been reeling ever since the news broke that Chuck Pratt was hired to be the new head writer of The Young and the Restless. With his last daytime head-writing stint at All My Children being such a disaster, it seemed unlikely Pratt would ever run a daytime writing room again.
Susan Lucci even went on the record in her memoir claiming Pratt told the cast of All My Children he didn't believe in character-driven stories, and didn't want to know about their respective character histories. So what happened?
A Y&R production source told me several other writers were in contention for the head-writing position, including former Y&R head writers Josh Griffith and Sally Sussman Morina. While Y&R's executive producer Jill Farren Phelps reportedly favored Griffith, Sony was allegedly wary of hiring someone who quit the last time he was in the position.
Sussman Morina reportedly met with Phelps, CBS daytime Senior Vice-President Angelica McDaniel and Sony executive Steve Kent at at Y&R's Television City studios to discuss her ideas for the show.
As most long-term Y&R fans know, Sussman Morina was a part of Bill Bell's writing team at Y&R back in the 1980's and most recently wrote for the soap during the Jack Smith and Lynn Marie Latham regimes. She has also worked with Phelps before.
She was a consultant at ABC when Phelps became the executive producer at General Hospital. More recently, Sussman Morina was on the writing staff of teen cable soap Hollywood Heights, which Phelps executive produced. However, she is thought of as an old-school Y&R writer not a "Friend of Jill"
Allegedly, after the meeting, Phelps contacted Chuck Pratt's agent Debbie Klein suggesting that Pratt would be a good choice for the head writer position. Klein is a longtime friend of CBS Entertainment topper Nina Tassler.
According to my source, Klein persuaded Tassler, who up until that point was not involved with the writer search, that because Pratt was a primetime writer, whose credits include Desperate Housewives and Melrose Place, it would be a coup to hire him for Y&R.
My source believes Phelps wanted to be sure she had a head writer who would support her vision for the show, so she lobbied for Pratt because she has worked with him before and rightly thought she could sell the network on him.
If this is in fact what happened, in my opinion, the most disappointing aspect of this saga is that a primetime writer was automatically considered superior to a daytime writer. Daytime and primetime require different skill-sets.
I enjoyed Pratt's primetime work including his most recent show, The Lying Game. His daytime work, on the other hand, is to put it mildly, problematic. It's possible that the executives who signed off on this decision never saw a single episode of his work on All My Children. Y&R and its viewers are likely to suffer because of that lack of due diligence.