Hint: He’s going no where!
When Maria Arena Bell was fired as head writer and executive producer of “The Young and the Restless” on Thursday, July 26, just one day earlier Soap Opera Digest reported that Scott Hamner, one of the soaps co-head writers, would be leaving at the end of his contract. “I had decided to let my contract expire but Maria[Arena Bell, executive producer/head writer] asked if we could call it a sabbatical instead,” explained Hamner in a statement. “She really didn’t want me to leave, so I agreed to take a few months off. She has been so gracious and generous about my need to take a break and I appreciate that.” Meanwhile, with the appointment of Josh Griffith as Bell’s replacement as head writer, many began to wonder whether Hogan Sheffer would remain as co-head writer of the soap or if Griffith would be the sole head writer of the series.
Although no additional changes has been announced by Sony Pictures Television or CBS since Griffith officially took over writing duties on Monday, August 6, Soap Opera Network reached out to a rep for Sheffer and a spokesperson for the drama series. According to a CBS spokeswoman, ”‘Y&R’ does not comment on contracts, rumors or storyline information.” A rep for Sheffer issued a “no comment,” while a close source to the series informs us that Sheffer has “not been fired.”
Should any writing changes take effect at “Y&R” or another daytime drama series, make sure to stay tuned to Soap Opera Network for the breaking story.
Bell, Hamner and Sheffer received the Daytime Entertainment Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team in June 2011 for their writing work on the series during the 2010 nominating period (January 1 through December 31). It was the first win for “Y&R” since 2006, when it picked up the award for writing work during the 2005 nominating period.
On Thursday, July 26, Sony Pictures Television announced Josh Griffith as the new head writer of “The Young and the Restless.” He replaced Maria Arena Bell, who also served as the soaps executive producer (she’s been replaced by Jill Farren Phelps in that position). In the days following the announcement of his appointment at “Y&R,” Griffith became a little more active on his Twitter account (@joshgriffith13).
On Friday, August 3, Griffith tweeted “My last day at ‘Hollywood Heights’ studios. Sad to be leaving one show but excited about starting work on ‘Y&R’ on Monday!” Griffith and Phelps, who reigned over the Nickelodeon primetime drama series, officially took charge of daytime’s #1 drama series on Monday, August 6. Shortly after that tweet, Griffith responded to a tweet by “Y&R” star Michelle Stafford who asked her followers to “Do something today that u wouldn’t normally do!!! I am gonna!! I’ll tell u what it is tonight!!!” Griffith’s response was “
@TheRealStafford Afraid. Very afraid.”
Today, Griffith tweeted “Back in action at ‘Y&R’ Great to see everyone. I’m thrilled to be back. Feels like home.”
“General Hospital” makes a few changes to the writing staff.
Head Writer Ron Carlivati brings in another writer from his former “One Life To Live” team. Anna Theresa Cascio joins the “GH” team as a breakdown writer. Leaving the “GH” team is breakdown writer Garin Wolf, who has been with the show since 1997. Also leaving is breakdown/script writer Tracey Thomson.
Eric Braeden is best known to daytime fans of CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” as Victor Newman, and in celebration of the shows upcoming 10,000th episode (tentatively scheduled for Thursday, September 27), the actor appeared on today’s edition of “The Talk,” with guest co-host Shannen Doherty.
In the interview Braeden touched on the topic of how important the writing is key to the success of the show. Ironically, it was announced yesterday that the writing team at “Y&R” would receive a major overhaul as Maria Arena Bell was ousted as the soaps head writer and executive producer. Also out is co-head writer Scott Hamner. The fate of Hogan Sheffer, another co-head writer on the show, has yet to be determined. Jill Farren Phelps will step in as executive producer with Josh Griffith, Jr. in as head writer.
“Good writing is fundamental and often forgotten,” said the 71-year old actor. “Writers get the least amount of publicity, and actually deserve the most. The confluence of good writing and actors doesn’t happen very often. And then in the end it is something mysterious. Either something works or it doesn’t. You can’t put your finger on it,” he continued.
For the Braeden’s full “Talk” appearance watch the clip below:
In a posting on her facebook page yesterday, following the announcement by Sony Pictures Television and CBS that Jill Farren Phelps and Josh Griffith, Jr. would be stepping in to replace her, Maria Arena Bell stated that she was “mystified” as to why she was being let go as executive producer and head writer of “The Young and the Restless.”
“So it was announced today [July 26, 2012] I am leaving Y and R… the show I have loved so much for so long. It is the legacy of my father in law… my mother in law… and all the Bells. The show has been my heart and soul. I loved working with the most talented writers in TV who were also the most wonderful human beings I know. They became a second family and my best friends. I loved the cast and crew. I am extremely sad to go because there are more stories I could have told. So much more I wanted to do,” said Bell. “My ratings are strong… each week stronger than last year. The show is in a great place creatively. We are number one by the greatest margin in the show’s history and have been consistently while I’ve been there. Under no one else’s tenure as head writer exec producer have we won every demographic for so long. I am just shy of five years at the helm. It has been an amazing ride. So why am I leaving? I am mystified as are my cast and crew.”
Editor’s Note: “The Young and the Restless” has been down year-to-year in most rating categories as the current television season progressed more than it has been up, which is a direct contradiction to Bell’s statement above. Additionally, “Y&R” has hit or tied all of its series lows during Bell’s tenure including this season.
Bell’s statement continued with the following:
“There have been a lot of tears shed in the last few days… by me and by my loyal staff and by our iconic actors. I was not given a reason and in fact I have heard nothing from Sony or CBS. They sent me a message through my husband Bill who had the terrible job of conveying that they’d gone around him and were letting me go. I fought hard for my vision and to keep the show on track with the characters that matter to the audience. Maybe I fought too hard. But I am glad I did. I never compromised on what I believed in. I never dumbed down the storytelling. I walked in the door at Y and R in 1988… as a young writer getting her first job. Today I leave there knowing it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I love you Y and R. Your story was my life story too. And to Victor… Nikki… Jack… and Kay… I will miss you.”
Bell’s facebook message was first posted on the CBS Soaps in Depth website.
“The Young and The Restless” is making major changes at the top. Executive Producer/Head Writer Maria Arena Bell is leaving the show and is being replaced by Jill Farren Phelps, who will be the new Executive Producer, and Josh Griffith, who will be the new Head Writer.
Co-Head Writer Scott Hamner is also leaving the show. The status of Hogan Sheffer, the show’s other Co-Head Writer, is currently unknown.
via Press Release
LOS ANGELES, July 26, 2012 – Jill Farren Phelps has been named Executive Producer of THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, daytime’s number one drama, and Josh Griffith joins the series as Head Writer, it was announced today by Steve Kent, Senior Executive Vice President, U.S. Programming at Sony Pictures Television.
“We are excited to have such a talented daytime veteran leading our team at ‘Y&R.’ Jill has a stellar record of success in the daytime genre,” said Kent. “We are also happy to welcome Josh back to THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and are looking forward to his creative input and ideas.”
“On behalf of everyone at ‘Y&R,’ we extend our sincere thanks to Emmy® Award-winning Maria Bell for her contributions to the show over the last five years. We wish her the best of luck and continued success,” he added.
Phelps has been the executive producer of five daytime dramas and two prime time cable dramas: “Santa Barbara,” “Guiding Light,” “Another World,” “One Life to Live,” “General Hospital,” the first season of ”General Hospital: Night Shift” and “Hollywood Heights.” As an executive producer, Phelps has been nominated for 14 Daytime Emmy Awards and has won seven times (1988–1990, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2012).
Griffith’s writing career includes “As the World Turns,” “One Life to Live,” “Santa Barbara,” “Sunset Beach,” “General Hospital,” ”The Young and the Restless” and “Hollywood Heights.” He has received four Emmy Awards and four Writer’s Guild Awards.
THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS has been the number one rated daytime drama for more than 23 years and is in its 39th season. The show is broadcast weekdays (12:30-1:30 PM; 11:00 AM-12:00 Noon, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network and is produced by Bell Dramatic Serial Company, in association with Sony Pictures Television.
Nickelodeon has tapped former “General Hospital” executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and former “One Life To Live” head writer Josh Griffith to adapt the popular Mexican telenovela “Alcanzar una Estrella“ for Nick at Nite. Phelps will be co-executive producer with Hisham Abed (“The Hills” and “The City”) and Griffith will serve as the head writer.
via press release
NICKELODEON AND TELEVISA BREAK NEW CREATIVE GROUND WITH “REACH FOR A STAR”, FIRST-EVER TELENOVELA ADAPTED FOR THE U.S., TO AIR ON NICK AT NITE
80-Episode Daily Series Centers Around Teenage Girl Who Reaches Stardom and Wins
the Love of Her Teen Idol; Produced in Association with Sony Pictures Television
Miami, FL – Jan. 24, 2012 – Nickelodeon, in partnership with Televisa, has ordered 80 episodes of a groundbreaking, original one-hour U.S. adaptation of the popular Mexican telenovela, Reach for a Star (Alcanzar una Estrella) for Nick at Nite, it was announced today by Cyma Zarghami, President of Viacom’s Nickelodeon Group; and Jose Bastón President of Television and Content from Televisa. The first telenovela ever adapted for the U.S. audience, Reach for a Star is a single-camera, daily series following a teenage girl whose life changes completely when she becomes a star and wins the love of her teen idol. Reach for a Star will be produced in association with Sony Pictures Television and is set to premiere later this year on Nickelodeon’s nighttime block for families–Nick at Nite. Production begins in March in Los Angeles, Calif.
“We have experienced first-hand the popularity of the daily scripted format with our kid audience through the success of House of Anubis and our teen audience with DeGrassi: The Next Generation,” and our Nick Latin American channel has already had great success in producing telenovela’s with Televisa,” Ms. Zarghami said. “This partnership brings together Televisa’s un-matched leadership in the telenovela genre with our expertise in making content, and we’re looking forward to introducing this first true English-language telenovela to Nick at Nite’s family audience.”
“As part of the steps towards building a strong presence in the Anglo TV market, Televisa is excited to coproduce with Nickelodeon one of the many successful scripts from our library in a daily series format,” said Bastón. We are convinced that the daily series will be well received by Nick´s family audiences, and will capture their attention daily as it has happened in different markets in the world where Televisa has exported its production capabilities. The Televisa and Nick alliance will certainly result in a successful formula, and we envision Reach for a Star as the first of many joint projects.
“For more than a decade Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) and Televisa have been strategically building upon their regional partnership that today encompasses, distribution, consumer products and co-productions,” said Pierluigi Gazzolo, Chief Operating Officer, VIMN. “Reach for a Star marks a dynamic new phase in our partnership and VIMN is incredibly excited to once again be expanding our content portfolio with Televisa.”
Reach for a Star follows Nickelodeon’s success with its live-action serialized series, House of Anubis and Degrassi. Nickelodeon has also experienced tremendous success with the format in Europe and Latin America. The Reach for a Star series is an adaptation of the hit Mexican telenovela, Alcanzar una Estrella, first broadcast on Canal de las Estrellas and Univision in 1990. The success of the series led to a film and sequel telenovela starring Latin American pop sensations, Ricky Martin and Sasha Sokol.
Reach for a Star follows a smart, shy and independent high school senior, Loren, who has ambitions of being a songwriter and secretly sends her song lyrics to her celebrity crush, rock superstar Eddie Wild. Loren’s wildest dreams come true when she not only wins a songwriting competition sponsored by Eddie, but strikes up a friendship with her idol. Eddie sees beyond Loren’s potential as a songwriter and gives her a first break as a singer, and when the truth about his less-than-faithful girlfriend Chloe is revealed, Eddie and Loren’s friendship blossoms.
The series will be co-executive produced by six-time Emmy Award-winner Jill Farren Phelps (General Hospital, One Life To Live) and Hisham Abed (The Hills and The City). Josh Griffith (Young and The Restless, As The World Turns) will serve as head writer.
Nick at Nite is Nickelodeon’s nighttime programming block that features popular hit family comedies including the Emmy Award-winning series Friends, My Wife & Kids, George Lopez and The Nanny.
“The Young and the Restless” Swings the Axe!
Soap Opera Network has just learned that Executive Producer and Head Writer Lynn Marie Latham has been fired from CBS’ “The Young and The Restless,” effective immediately. Latham’s husband, Bernard Lechowick, who served as a Creative Consultant and Writer, has also been let go. Other writers exiting the show are Marina Alburger and Lynsey Dufour. More writers from Latham’s team are expected to follow.
Josh Griffith, who went on “Financial Core” status and replaced Latham as Executive Producer, is expected to remain in that position. However, there is no word yet if Griffith will remain as Head Writer. The status of Co-Head Writer Maria Arena Bell and Writer Paula Cwikly were unclear at press time.
“Y&R” is the second Sony Pictures Television owned soap to have mass firings. On February 1, 2008, nine writers from NBC’s “Days Of our Lives” were given the axe.
Stay tuned to SON as more details become available.
EXCLUSIVE: Soap Opera Network has learned the names of soap opera writers who declared “Financial Core” status to keep on working during the strike. By going “Fi-Core,” these writers can never be members of the WGA again but they continue to pay reduced union dues and the Guild is obligated to continue providing services such health insurance, pension and residuals. Though they can still work on Guild projects, Guild members will not be keen to hire them.
Here is the list of “Fi-Core” writers:
- “All My Children”: James Harmon Brown & Barbara Esensten (returned to work in late December)
- “The Bold and The Beautiful”: Kay Alden
- “Days Of Our Lives”: Hogan Sheffer (went “Fi-Core” in early January), Meg Kelly (went “Fi-Core” in late November), Victor Gialanella, Mark Christopher Higley
- “General Hospital”: Garin Wolf (went “Fi-Core” immediately), Michael Conforti
- “One Life To Live”: Gary Tomlin, Fran Myers, Jeanne Marie Ford, Michelle Poteet Lisanti (all went “Fi-Core” immediately)
- “Passions”: James E. Reilly, Shawn Morrison, Pete T. Rich (went “Fi-Core” immediately)
- “The Young and The Restless”: Josh Griffith, Maria Arena Bell, Paula Cwikly (all went “Fi-Core” immediately)
There are no “Fi-Core” writers at “As The World Turns” and “Guiding Light.”
At “DAYS” the show decided not to use the services of Hogan Sheffer and Meg Kelly; instead they were paid to stay at home. This signifies that “DAYS” will name a new Head Writer.
Still at “DAYS,” it is unclear as to whether or not that the fired writers (Tom Casiello, Frederick Johnson, Gordon Rayfield, Judy Tate, Judith Donato, Renee Godelia, Richard Backus) will be returning to the show. More on this story in the upcoming days or weeks.
Over at “Y&R” there have been rumors and speculation about the departure of Executive Producer and Head Writer Lynn Marie Latham. However, there has been no word if these rumors are true or not.
UPDATE: April 18, 2008
The WGA released a letter today naming more writers that I didn’t originally have.
The list of writers are:
- “The Bold and The Beautiful”: John F. Smith
- “Days Of Our Lives”: Dena Higley (went “Fi-Core” just before the strike ended in February)
- “Passions”: Marlene Clark Poulter, Clem Egan, Darrell Ray Thomas Jr.