Just as the fall season gets ready to kick into high gear next month comes word that “The Young and the Restless” may have lost its head writer as a result of creative differences with the shows executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps. Josh Griffith, who took the reigns from Maria Arena Bell one year ago, has reportedly given notice to Sony Pictures Television and Bell Dramatic Television of his decision to leave.
Griffith’s possible exit couldn’t have come at a worse time for the soap as several of its stars recently told Soap Opera Network of their happiness with the material they’ve been given leading into the fall and that the storyline involving the death of Katherine Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper), which begins airing today, lends itself to plenty of tales for “every.single.character” in the months to come.
Representatives for CBS and the show have not commented at press time on this developing story.
In an interview published in the newest issue of Soap Opera Digest, Maria Arena Bell, the former executive producer and head writer of “The Young and the Restless,” shares that the soap submitted episodes #9,999 and #10,000 as part of their Emmy reel in the category of Outstanding Drama Series for the “40th Annual Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards.”
“We felt those episodes, being sequential, were the peak of huge story,” she says. The episodes covered the mock funeral of Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) and the nonmarriage of Sharon Newman (Sharon Case) and Tucker McCall (Stephen Nichols). The soap submitted episode #9,999 in the category of Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team. In addition to the “Y&R” Emmy nominations, Digest asked Bell what she thought of the “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” reboots.
Maria Arena Bell, who was let go as Executive Producer and Head Writer of CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” earlier this year, was honored on Wednesday, December 12 with a Humanitarian Award for her dedication to arts advocacy during the 14th Annual Women’s Image Network (WIN) Awards, which recognizes and honors exemplary men and women in the entertainment industry including those from the television, film and advertising worlds.
During tonight’s Paley Center LA event in Beverly Hills, CA, celebrating 10,000 episodes of “The Young and the Restless,” former head writer and executive producer, Maria Arena Bell, joined cast members Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott), Eric Braeden (Victor Abbott), Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor), Doug Davidson (Paul Williams), Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin), Joshua Morrow (Nicholas Newman), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman), Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters), and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Newman) to talk about the shows legacy.
What’s significant about Bell’s appearance was that
up until after her ouster made headlines on Thursday, July 26, the former EP/HW was said to no longer be attending, at least according to sources Soap Opera Network spoke with on Friday, July 27. The Paley Center also removed her name from their website for the event.
During tonight’s event, which was “live tweeted” by @PaleyCenter on Twitter, Bell was quoted as saying the following:
- “You have to be careful when introducing new characters. Fans want to see the people on this stage [referring to present company of actors tonight]. But it provides insight.”
- “The key is that these characters have stayed true to themselves. Both of Bill Bell’s shows have and dominated the ratings.”
- “Like every great soap story, I did get killed off. These people have been extraordinary and I thank them for this experience.”
“The Young and the Restless” celebrates its 10,000th episode on Thursday, September 27. The series held a cake cutting party at its CBS Television City studio yesterday in honor of its milestone.
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.”
Update, Wednesday, August 8 5:41 PM ET: Soap Opera Network has learned Shiels will be portraying the character “Moran” in his scenes with Braeden and Francis.
Previous, Tuesday, August 2 3:07 PM ET: Soap Opera Network has learned that actor Graham Shiels, who most recently appeared in an episode of TNT’s “Leverage,” has booked a recurring role on CBS’ “The Young and the Restless.”
While his character name is being kept under wraps, Soap Opera Network has learned that the role may vacillate between perceived enemy or ally and that Shiels will appear in scenes with Eric Braeden (Victor Newman) and Genie Francis (Genevieve Atkinson). His first airdate is scheduled for Monday, September 10.
“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:
As “The Young and the Restless” gears up for its 10,000th episode tentatively scheduled to air on Thursday, September 27 on CBS, The Paley Center for Media, LA will be hosting a live event on Thursday, August 23 beginning at 7:00 PM PT with much of the veteran cast members of the popular daytime drama series including Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott), Eric Braeden (Victor Abbott), Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor), Doug Davidson (Paul Williams), Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin), Joshua Morrow (Nicholas Newman), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman), Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters), and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Newman) scheduled to attend.
Prior to her recent ouster as executive producer and head writer, Maria Arena Bell was also scheduled to attend to event, but we’ve since confirmed via sources that will not be the case now. It is unclear at this time who will replace Bell as a senior member of the shows production, if anyone, for the Paley Center event.
As part of the celebration fans of the popular series can attend the Q&A session, which will be moderated by Brooks Barnes from The New York Times, if they are in the Los Angeles area and willing to cough up $15 for non-members or $10 for members of the Paley Center. If you’re unable to attend in person, @PaleyCenter via Twitter will be the place to tweet to and #PaleyLiveLA will be the hashtag used for discussions around the world. Tweets sent in will be seen on a widget added to the Paley Center page for “Y&R” on the day of the event.
To purchase tickets, click here.
The Paley Center for Media
465 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Note: If you plan on attending and seating in the main theatre is unavailable, it will cost just $7 for closed circuit viewing (ie. not in the main theatre) at the Paley Center for Media.