Deep Soap: Rowell Cites Racism For Y&R Exit, GH’s Brenda Stirs Up Horror

by | August 30, 2010 at 9:11 PM | Deep Soap

Victoria Rowell (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Victoria Rowell (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Victoria Rowell Is At It Again
It was the soap pseudo-scandal of the weekend.  Last Friday, ‘The Young & The Restless‘ stars Kristoff St. John (Neil) and Darius McCrary (Malcolm) appeared on The Foxxhole, Jamie Foxx’s raunchy satellite radio show. (A link to the audio is available here.)  What would have been notable only for McCready’s sexist (IMHO) remarks about his ex-wife and women in general, took a strange turn when Victoria Rowell, ex-Dru, called in to make the same allegations she has been making in interviews about her novel Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva and on Twitter, that nearly everyone who works on the show is a racist who mistreated her because of her ethnicity.

Kudos to co-host Lewis Dix who repeatedly pointed out that Rowell quit the show.  She was not fired.  Rowell claimed that Y&R discriminated against her by not allowing her to write or direct for the show.   She makes a good point about daytime needing more diverse writers, directors and producers.  So does primetime and film. It’s an industry-wide problem.

She is right that Y&R has not done as well in this area as other shows.  This is especially problematic, given the show’s popularity with African American viewers. The only African American character on the show who has had frontburner storylines since Rowell left has been Lily (Christel Khalil).

Emmy winners St. John and Bryton (Devon), have done little more than support Lily through her various travails.   That needs to change, not because it’s politically correct, but because talented actors should be used to their full potential.  Hopefully, the heavily telegraphed love triangle between Neil, Malcolm and newcomer Sofia (Julia Pace Mitchell) will turn out to be a good storyline.

If Y&R had welcomed other actors into the writing room or the directors booth, Rowell would be right that she was being discriminated against.  The show has not.  There is only one actor in all of daytime who also directs for their show — ‘The Bold & The Beautiful’s’ Susan Flannery.  There are no actors who also write for their shows, though there are plenty of actors who also have writing careers.  The pace of daytime does not lend itself to people wearing more than one hat, the way primetime does.

Rowell exercised an obscure clause in her contract and opted to leave the show on virtually no notice, well before her contract was up for renewal, forcing some hasty, unsatisfying rewrites and a ridiculous presumed death via a stock footage waterfall.  I was still with the show at that time, and I remember everyone, including then Executive Producer/headwriter Lynn Latham being surprised by her decision. Not being on set, I have no idea what transpired between her and the rest of the cast. I think it was a tremendous loss to the show, and more should have been done to get her to reconsider her decision at the time.  I would like to think that the conflicts could have been resolved.

Rowell subsequently badmouthed numerous cast members as well as the network, the studio, and the show’s producers.  Now she is complaining because the show is not welcoming her back.  That’s like Steven Slater, the  flight attendant who publicly quit then slid down the plane’s emergency slide, expecting his job back.  The only time I can think of an actor leaving a show mid-contract and being allowed to return is ‘Days of Our Lives Melissa Reeves. It was clear that she left for personal reasons.   The show still sued her for breach of contract.  She never spoke about the situation publicly.  She ultimately mended fences with the show and returned five years later.

Rowell placed St. John and McCrary in a terrible position, by ambushing them and forcing them to respond to her accusations, accusations that had nothing to do with them.  If they disagreed with Rowell, they looked like they were defending racism.  If they agreed with her, they were criticizing their current bosses. It was a no win situation. St. John revealed that he did go to bat for her with the show’s producers, who opted not to bring her back.  This seems like a lousy way to repay him for his loyalty. I am not sure whether Rowell’s goal is to put pressure on the show to rehire her or simply to generate publicity for her books, but I cannot imagine that anyone on Y&R would be eager to bring her back when she is doing everything she can to damage the show’s reputation.

Soap Briefs

Days of Our Lives‘ fans should be sure to watch the episode of ‘Mad Men‘ that premiered Sunday night.   John Aniston (Victor) played Wallace Harriman, an advertising titan who hosted the Clio awards.  Aniston brought his trademark dry wit to the role.  It is great that the show that won its third straight primetime Emmy for best drama series, and undoubtedly has its pick of acting talent, is using daytime actors.

I was horrified by the event that transpired on Friday’s ‘General Hospital.‘  No, not Sonny’s attorney advising him to flee the country.  Nor Sam and Jason getting caught in a shootout involving off-camera villains.  I speak of a fresh horror: Brenda was wearing stirrup pants.   The horrible vestige of 80s fashion was being worn by daytime’s most fashion forward character, who is now allegedly a full fledged supermodel despite being 5 foot four.  Maybe this is the real reason why someone tried to stab Brenda.  Maybe her charitable organization forces the exploited children that it rescues to wear bad ironic hipster retro fashions.  The worst thing about the stirrup pants is that GH’s costume designer Mary Ianelli knows what she’s doing.  All of the characters on the show have distinctive looks, from Jason’s ubiquitous black t-shirts to Diane’s pantsuits.  The show’s other designated fashionistas Maxie (Kristen Storms) and Kate (Megan Ward) almost always look great.  This means that stirrup pants are actually making a comeback.  I am terrified.

Last week’s ‘Project Runway‘ featured the downfall of the season’s villain, Gretchen.  For those who missed it, she manipulated a group of designers into yielding to her vision for a truly ugly collection of clothes, attempted to manipulate the judges, turned on her teammates, then got told off by Tim Gunn.  The episode generated a ton of buzz because it was such a relatable study of interpersonal dynamics.  There is a bullying, mean, know it all in every office and school in America.  It occurs to me that this would be a great template to use for a soap villain.  I would love to see a storyline about an ambitious junior executive who second guesses everybody else’s work, makes everyone’s lives miserable, and is oblivious to their own shortcomings.  The best soap plots are exaggerated versions of real life situations.  This would be a fresh take on soap corporate storylines.  As Tim Gunn would say, make it work, daytime.