Behind The Scenes At CBS-TV City ‘The Young And The Restless’ Takeover, And Where Sony And Farren Phelps Plan On Taking Your Soap, Highlight Hollywood News

Just part of the misinformation that SONY Studios allowed to go out there in the twitter-verse about Emmy Award-winning show runner Maria Arena Bell, was that she fired actress Eileen Davidson. Davidson now admits, “My initial tweet about being fired wasn’t true.” Not that Davidson was being dishonest, she was not. Eileen is a very professional actress and an incredible superb and beautiful actress. But she was being traded, because “Days of Our Lives” wanted to use her on a front-burner storyline, while Maria Bell, had other plans for “Y&R” for the next several months. Fans have wrongly lambasted Maria, but time will heal the wounds, and more importantly, the truth is slipping out day by day, thanks to at least one source of ours at Sony, that admits to us, that the studio’s honchos were willing to throw Maria to the wolves, or the fans, and try to come out smelling like a rose.
The problem however for Sony is in hiring Jill Farren Phelps as the new show runner for “The Young and the Restless.” Even more so than previous show runner Lynn Marie Latham, Phelps has a long list of failures under her belt, and a long list of burning the fans, who wanted to give her a chance. That won’t happen this time around. When Jill Farren Phelps tells the media a crock of lies, that she has no intentions of firing the vets on “Y&R” and placing them on the back burner. Fans are smart enough not to take this woman at her word, and even more intelligent enough to know that time proves she never keeps her promises to fans, and only kills off beloved iconic heroines and characters on the show. She virtually ruined “One Life To Live,” which is canceled. She worked for “Santa Barbara,” which was canceled. She ignored fans’ outcries on both “Another World,” when she killed Frankie Frame and again on “Guiding Light” when she killed the Bauer matriarch Maureen.

Phelps has serious issues with keeping her word as a show runner. And her virtual destruction of “General Hospital,” has been saved by the current show runner, who is doing a magnificent job turning it back into a continuing drama and not “Shootout at the OK Corral,” which is what Phelps turned it into.  She is a disastrous choice for William J. Bell’s “Y&R.” And as much as I miss Bill, I’m actually glad he’s not here to see the end of his show, and that’s where it’s headed under the steam of one of the most prolific show-destroyers in TV history. How Sony thinks this is going to affect the show in a positive way is far beyond anyone’s comprehension.

Lets see where Jill Farren Phelps took “General Hospital.” It’s the fourth rated of the four soaps, its ratings were not only down, but so were the key demographics. She was hated by viewers of “GH” for turning the show into the “Mafia” hour! At least two actors on “Y&R” were let go by her. Emmy Award-nominated actress Genie Francis, Genevieve on “Y&R” once was Laura Spencer on “GH.” Yes, that Laura, the one who once made the cover of Newsweek Magazine, when it was the Luke and Laura wedding.  She let her go! And Stephen Nichols, who portrays Tucker McCall on “Y&R,” and on “GH” was Stefan Cassadine.

Compare that record to Maria Bell’s. And I am not talking about a few storylines fans now say they hated. There have been storylines on every soap including the iconic nighttime soaps of the 1980s “Dallas” and “Dynasty” that fans hated. Who loved Alexis for intentionally causing Krystle’s miscarriage? Who loved J.R. for calling Sue Ellen a slut every week? That’s what soaps are all about. Giving us turmoil, even things we hate, so that when we come out of that tunnel, we root for our favorites again. But what has Jill Farren Phelps given you lately? Or at any time that you could say you loved?

Sony’s arrogant handling of things speaks volumes. And lets see if Jill Farren Phelps will achieve these business goals in her (hopefully) very short tenure as “Y&R’s” show-runner, with Head Writer, twice released from his duties, Josh Griffith by her side.

Maria Bell led the show for five years, with highest margin of lead (in the ratings)at number one in the show’s history. Maria also won every demo more often than any other show runner in “Y&R” history.  As show runner, Bell also led her team to a Writers Guild of America-win and an Emmy-win for writing.  The show was on or below the production budget for the year.

Maria also had a  history of successful compelling storytelling with core characters. And whether you argue these storylines you loved or not. You love your favorites, we all love the core characters. Now Sony has given Ms. Phelps the direction, she willingly is ready to go in, to gut and tear out our favorites for the hot guys running around without their shirt-look in Genoa City. Sure, we can enjoy that eye-candy but so long.  What about stories? She offered so few at “GH.” The show turned only into the Sonny-Mafia hour. Can you now imagine every character becoming mired in physical violence? That’s her style.  Gun violence is her forte!

And her head writer, Mr. Griffith has a long history at “Y&R.” Twice he failed, with very boring storylines and our Sony source already admits, “He’s not a leader. We don’t know how he’s going to lead his team.  But one thing is for sure. Jill Farren Phelps is the executioner of many of the show’s favorites.  That’s why she’s there and Maria Bell is gone. Maybe she should have played ball, and just cut some of the old guard go,” concluded a source who spoke with Highlight Hollywood.

I intend to watch the show for a while.  It’s my job.  But I know Ms. Jill Farren Phelps’s style, and what she’s known for. Sayonara, “Y&R.” The butcher of daytime TV is now in charge of the most popular and successful American soap in our nation’s history.  Jill Farren Phelps, on keeping her word? Two words explain it all. Anna Lee!

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  Link 81 Collection
Follow us on Twitter @HighlightHwd or @LightfootinHwd

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