Chuck Pratt has long been an enigma for soap bloggers. His quotes to soap journalists are always page view-generating wet dreams. However, the lack of awareness about the destruction he sometimes leaves in his wake isn't healthy for the genre.
At the end of the day, I'd rather see the four remaining suds stay healthy and on the air for years to come, than relish in Pratt putting both "Turbo" feet firmly in his mouth leading to blog hits. Sometimes there's just no getting around it; especially when he keeps getting hired in daytime and therefore continues to be interviewed by the daytime soap press.
I've been trying to be all Zen about Pratt's latest Prattastraphe, "Flirting With Disaster", which begins airing in earnest this week on CBS Daytime's The Young and the Restless. We were promised he wouldn't come into Y&R like he had ABC Daytime's All My Children back in 2008, full of arrogant bluster and ready to stage one absurd, plot-driven clusterfuck after another.
About those assurances? In the Feb. 23 issue of Soap Opera Digest, Pratt—who started in January—explained how he got around them before the Groundhog even checked for his shadow.
Digest: You've eased into Y&R without any huge story shifts, but you've lined up two disasters in February. Can you explain the reasoning for that?
Pratt: You know, that's one of the things I promised CBS I wouldn't do, but I basically talked them into it. One of my big goals was to reduce the number of stories, centralize the stories to one or two big, main-thrust stories. These are things I've learned from [former GH Executive Producer] Gloria Monty. And the best way to do that and do it quickly is to bring them together, and nothing brings people together than a disaster."
He has a point. Would anyone be talking about Fox's new soap Empire if that earthquake hadn't swallowed the record company in Episode 2?
What about Mad Men? Would we still be tuning in if Don Draper's intergalactic bulge hadn't accidentally pressed down hard on the red button in the White House, while he was humping Olivia Pope?
Wait, I think I'm mixing up what worked on several very different serial dramas and thinking it all applies universally, respective characters be damned. Silly me.
We were also promised Pratt's executive producer title was "more about money" and he wouldn't be afforded free reign to go bat shit crazy in Genoa City. I won't pull the whole quote from the Digest interview (Go pick it up at the newsstand!), but according to Pratt, that's b.s. He has as much power as Jill Farren Phelps, only he won't be down on the set as much.
It's not that I disagree with everything Pratt said in his chat with Devin Owens. Good for the Chuckster for pointing out Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) and mortal enemy Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) should always be in the same orbit.
I saw these two titans who battled over the years, but Jack and Victor were kind of separated into stories and everybody said, 'Eh, we've kind of done that, did that.' And I said, 'Well, I haven't. I want to write it for today and let them display the emotions of love, loss, all those great things that you can't find on television anymore, and that's what makes daytime unique."
Right on, Pratt! Can we get more of this guy and not his Mr. Hyde version, who still insists killing Stuart (David Canary) on All My Children was a smart move?
The problem with the kind of chaos Pratt tends to cause following his big, braggadocios disaster stories, is the people who keep hiring him in daytime likely have no clue who "Stuart" was and why he was ever significant in the first place. It would be like Pepsi hiring the person who came up with New Coke to run their research and development arm. Only in daytime is it logical to do this sort of thing.
In the interview's most alarming exchanges, Pratt takes zero responsibility for his harrowing, abominable year-long tenure at AMC.
The Cliff's Notes version is, he "loved" writing Adam killing his twin brother/conscience/heart and soul of the show and—according to Pratt—he never told Susan Lucci or any other cast members he didn't care about character-driven stories. So essentially he is saying La Lucci—who never spoke out about any regime during her four decades of ruling daytime—save for him and Brian Frons—is a big, fat liar.
In the next few weeks and months we will begin to see if Pratt can put the obscene amount of money he's likely being paid where his mouth is. If Y&R becomes as red-hot as Melrose Place in the 90's, I won't give a damn if he's as cocky as Kanye at Beck's lifetime achievement award ceremony. But if he does to Genoa City what he did to Pine Valley, there won't be any place for him to hide from me and my trusty HTML code.