Last week, the cast and crew of “The Young & the Restless” gathered on the show’s soundstage to celebrate the show’s official fortieth anniversary with a television shaped cake, courtesy of the Food Network’s Duff, and an In & Out Burgers food truck. It was such a momentous occasion that two of television’s most powerful executives attends, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler and Sony Television President Steve Mosko.
Tassler confessed she used to have a crush on Eric Braeden. “When I first moved to California, I worked for a small agency the Irv Schechter Company. One of the agents I worked with was none other than Debbie Klein who used to represent Mr. Braeden. I can only tell you the heart palpitations that I would get when I would answer the phone and it would be, ‘This is Eric Braeden.’”
Mosko praised CBS’s current daytime team, led by president Angelica McDaniel, and took a subtle potshot at the competition. “What gives me chills today in a great way is that a couple years ago, there were a lot of people in the industry that, let’s just say, didn’t believe in the genre. And I know all of you did. I know for sure we did and we have fought and fought and fought which is why today is such a great day for all of us because you know what we hung in there. We’re doing great work. The genre is thriving. This show is doing fantastic… the support we get from CBS is amazing. I know there was a day and a time when I was involved in these shows when it was like, ‘The network’ and kind of spoken under your breath. And I will tell you something, they are amazing partners, and great supporters of the genre. Just look across the street at another network that didn’t support the genre and what happened. Some fans may quibble with that statement given that CBS canceled two soaps just like ABC did, but there’s no arguing that right now the network is doing a good job of supporting Y&R.
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I spoke with several veteran cast members about what the day meant to them and what’s next for their characters.
Jeanne Cooper (Katherine)
You’ve been here since the beginning, What does this day mean to you?
It’s unbelievable for a show to run this long and that’s due to the writers and the various groups who keep the show together. That’s what makes this work is the writers and the producers that we’ve had all the time. That’s what gives it longevity. It stays. It doesn’t run around and try to be something that it’s not. It’s about people in a town. Basically it’s about three or four families. You have enough storyline there to last a lifetime and grow old with them. Which I have. I started 40 years ago. As a consequence, some of the people who came in shortly there after, you’re growing older watching it. So the dedication is there and the loyalty is there. That’s what you want is loyalty and involvement. And you have a success.
In honor of the 40th, should the show honor Katherine’s roots by having her have a fling with a stable boy?
I’d have to have a fling with their grandfathers at this point. Those stable boys. Wasn’t that lovely when she first started? She had stable boys who took care of her every ill. One for her headaches, one for her feet when they were hurting. She had about 7 stable boys. It was the prime time of her life. It was youth and [lust] and they loved it. I think that;s when we started on our road to success.
Katherine doesn’t have Alzheimers. What actually is wrong with her?
Whatever it is, it’s benign. She’s ready to take on Jill and the rest of them again. It was something that frightened everybody, but in surgery she’s okay.
So what is her next step?
I’m going to make cane my favorite boy and that’s going to just set Jill off. So we have her back in the same orbit. We have the love-hate thing again.
Favorite memories of Bill Bell?
One of the loveliest moments we had, we were well into the hour show, we were up in the office just talking and he just sat back in the chair and said [thinking of when the show was a half hour],”I miss the good old days, don’t you Jeanne?”
Peter Bergman (Jack)
What does the fortieth anniversary mean to you?
I’m a big one for markers. It’s why I miss the seasons the most living in California. I like a fresh start in spring. I like another one in summer. This is just another milestone in my own life. I started this show when it was 13 years old and I’m still here. My daughter was four weeks old when I started this job, She has now graduated from college and begun her career life.
Jack’s back together with Phyllis, but his son’s giving him advice on how to woo her. What’s going on there?
I think Jack is, in typical fashion, falling in love face first. Diving into love, a very dangerous sport. Jack has done this before and learned nothing from it. And he’s doing it all over again and that may come back and bite him.
So another two weeks until he pulls out a ring?
I hope not. I hope it doesn’t happen that fast. I hope they take their time. What I like best about it is he is it is romance. He is romancing her. He is wooing her. He is not laying her across a coffee table. He is wooing her. He is trying to win her heart and we’ve had too little of that for a long time.
Jack’s bad in control at Jabot. Is he going to hold onto the company and be a strong business man this time?
One hopes. I never know where it’s going. Nothing means more to Jack than family. If there’s anything close it’s Jabot, so these are his Achilles heels. It’s likely that one of the two is going to be threatened.
A couple of Jack’s family members are about to get new faces. How do you feel about the recasts?
So far my favorite thing about the two recasts is they’re both smart people. I like smart people and smart people do well in this. If you’re clever, this could go very well, so. I’m looking at them right now. If only they could find good looking people.
Most memorable storylines and scenes?
I was shocked that they put Jack and Phyllis together and that it worked out so incredible well. Memorable storylines: the first time Jack married Nikki and watched it devolve into an alcoholic mess. That was great story. That was terrific story. I had fun with this wheelchair and Jack finding his feet again. I thought that was very challenging. So I’ve had a few.
Is year41 going to be the year that Jack beats Victor?
Your mouth to God’s ears.
Lauralee Bell (Christine, daughter of the show’s creator, Bill Bell)
What does this day mean to you? Y&R is your family business.
My Dad would have loved it. However, he loved every celebration. We’ve had lots of them. The number is almost too hard to comprehend. But at the same time, when a lot of [shows] are trying to grab a year or two on the air, 40 years doesn’t seem possible. But he would have looked out at everybody and said, always, ‘This is a team effort.”
There have been so many Y&R celebrations, Are theer any that stand out in your memory?
[My father] loved it when we would win best show. But the couple of years that we won best writing and there would be a writers dinner the night before because he spent so much unbelievably emotional time with the writers, it would always be fun. There were so many parties at my parents’ house. As time goes on, people come up to me more and more and say, ‘Gosh, you remember those days? When we were invited to the house?” My parents loved that day. Everyone was out of character, obviously, but he would still call everyone by their character name. It’s just a lot of great memories. To talk with Tracey Bregman or with Peter and to hear once their kids were this but now they’re in college. The timespan is enormous. It just goes by because we are having so much fun.