After 39 years, 9 head writers, 11 executive producers, and countless cast and crew members, CBS & Sony’s The Young and the Restless filmed its 10,000th episode and to pay tribute to this historic event the fine folks over at the Paley Center for Mediahosted a panel in celebration of this remarkable occurrence on Thursday, August 23.
In attendance was former head writer and executive producer Maria Arena Bell, along with the show’s star Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin), Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters), Doug Davidson (Paul Williams), Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Newman), Joshua Morrow (Nick Newman), Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott) Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman Abbott), Eric Braeden (Victor Newman) and Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor) .
Taking full advantage of the opportunity Eric Braeden early on took a moment to dispel a popular rumor stating that actors, such as himself, have influence over the stories that are being written for their characters stating that “we [the actors] do not have any influence over what the writers write for us. We do not interfere.” This comes hot off the heels of various rumors alleging that Braeden was the one who pushed, (then,) head writer Maria Arena Bell into writing the romance between his character Victor Newman and his on screen ex-daughter-in-law Sharon Newman (played by Sharon Case.)
Melody Thomas Scott had a bit a fun as she attempted to recount what her last name would be given all of her characters marriages – “Nikki Reed Foster Newman Abbott…oh, the mafia guy… Dr. Landers….the Chow guy…” to which Jeanne Cooper simply replied “She’s quite a whore.” For the record her name is Nikki Reed Foster Brancroft DiSalvo Newman Newman Abbott Landers Newman Chow Sharpe Abbott.
In analyzing her character Michelle Stafford admitted that there’s always been certain aspects of Phyllis’s personality that were crazy. She seems so strong but in reality she’s simply overcompensating, trying to cling on to everything around her and not able to accept it when things start to fall apart. It was then that Braeden reiterated that “This [speaking of his co-workers] is a group of very good actors and we learn from each other, pick up things by osmosis. I’m fascinated by what they do.”
Kristoff St. John let it be known that he’s very popular with the prison inmates stating he receives a lot of mail from prisons, to which Christian Leblanc replied “they’re a captive audience”
Discussing the difficulties of filming a daily serial Braeden discussed how they often film over 80 pages a day. To put this into relative terms a primetime series would film the same amount in 8 days, while a movie could take weeks. A majority of the scenes filmed for Y&R are also shot with one take as they do not have the luxury of the others to consistently reshoot their scenes. Cooper acknowledged that “It’s the most difficult medium to try to turn in a good performance” while Thomas-Scott agreed adding “But I think we all enjoy that”
The topic then moved on to the shows future. Braeden feels that the show has the potential, both from a quality standpoint and an acting standpoint, to continue on for another 30 years, as long as the writing continues to engage people. Cooper agreed, commenting on the series ability to provide an ‘escape’ from the viewers’ everyday life stating that audiences are shouting “It’s miserable out there [in the real world.] Let me escape!” It was then that former head writer Maria Arena Bell caused a bit of an uproar in the online community as she stated that the key to the show’s continued success is that these characters have stayed true to themselves. Both of Bill Bell’s shows have and that is why they have and will continue to dominate in the ratings.
After taking a few audience questions, which included a few fans thanking the cast for their dedication throughout the years, Bell stated that “Like every great soap story, I did get killed off. These people have been extraordinary & I thank them for this experience” it was then brought up how Bell has been “instrumental” in the saving of MOCA- the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the panel came to an anti-dramatic close.
While there weren’t any huge revelations that happened during the event, overall it was a fun tribute to this historic show, and I hope we get to see more events as the soap continues to make its mark on not only the history books, but the lives of its viewers for years to come.
Author Note: While the panel itself appeared to be conducted decently, in the year 2012, when events are being live streamed every day without problem, it is of great disappointment that in honoring a visual medium such as television, and more specifically a daytime drama, which is (/should be) written upon the foundation of “showing the viewer” what is happening and not telling them, it was rather disappointing that, for whatever reason, the Paley event was not streamed online like various other Paley events have been in the past.
With that said I can completely understand the sentiment of wanting to put out a DVD / paid for stream after the fact, but to do a “live twitter feed” that is unable to transcribe every word that is being said (due to pure limitations placed upon twitter / the transcriber) the event lost its luster, and did not help promote either the Paley center or give me a reason to ‘support’ them at a later date by purchasing the DVD or paid for stream, if they decide to release it that way. Here is hoping however that this is a learning experience and that all future panels will be live streamed.