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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Y&R: Changes at the Top

Daytime Confidential has been reporting a rumor about a change coming to one of the soaps. It first was blind, but later it was stated that Jill Farren Phelps was out as executive producer at "The Young and the Restless". Today (June 8, 2016) it was announced officially by Sony's Steve Kent. Below are my thoughts on this development.

Mal Young, who'd been a supervising producer at Y&R since the beginning of the year, is now in charge. Soap Central has the most clear coverage of what has happened so far, which basically shares the tweet from Mal about it being Day One.

What I wonder as a viewer is what will happen. How long is Charles Pratt going to be head writing? Will Mal Young bring someone completely new into the position of head writer? He must have friends from his work in the UK. He isn't a soap writer, but someone who worked their way up show runner, later being in charge of continuing drama at BBC moving eventually to an independent production company before landing at Y&R. He was part of the administration that green lighted the return of "Doctor Who" along with shepherding "Eastenders". Because of his time at "Brookside", he wasn't a network head with no creative experience, who just looked at the bottom line, but the BBC always has to think of ways to keep things under budget. Earlier this year it felt like someone else was influencing Y&R, it will be interesting to see if it was Mal Young. I hope we get an interview someday where he speaks about what he has inspired on screen on the program.

When it comes to Jill Farren Phelps anyone who has a soap fan history over multiple shows has varied feelings. P&G fans of either "Another World" or "Guiding Light" had mixed feelings due to the deaths of beloved characters. At least with GL, there were some good moments before and after that happened and she did apologize years later. AW fans weren't as lucky, and she instituted certain things on AW like new sets and an opening more like ER than AW. Santa Barbara was her first soap in the executive producer role, and the memorable clip of her at the Daytime Emmys being usurped is very entertaining. Her time at SB was seen as largely positive though some stories were ridiculous. Her time at "One Life to Live" is seldom discussed though that show had the most so-called FOJ (Friends of Jill). The term didn't really exist yet when she was working for P&G, but referred to actors she had a good relationship with and would hire for more than one show. (On GL, she brought in some Santa Barbara performers and jokingly it was called Santa Barbara East, but I digress.) From OLTL, she ended up at "General Hospital" for over a decade. At times, it felt very her as she brought in people both in front of and behind the camera. That said IMO she stayed too long. Once GH had enough, she was at Y&R. The program feels less like Y&R and more like a generic soap opera. A few of the newer cast members have pasts with Jill, but at least many are related to core families. There were no new families like the Rapports of "One Life to Live" to make an example.

We'll see what happens with "The Young and the Restless". I hope it improves, and I wonder how much of the UK style we'll see on the show. UK soaps tend to be less glamorous, and that is opposite of having characters who work in the cosmetic and/or fashion industry. That said other than the fake fashion show with Natalie, not much focus has been put on anything with style elements. Hopefully Mal Young does a great job, and everyone can enjoy the show. That said I'm hoping for not too much turmoil behind or in front of the camera. If major actors leave, without it being their choice the "screaming" will begin. I wish Jill Farren Phelps well, but hope she "retires" from network daytime and goes into other sorts of productions. (B&B is owned and run by the Bell family, Days promoted from within, and JFP had over ten years at GH, so it doesn't seem like there is room at the proverbial inn.)

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