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Friday, January 10, 2014

The Soap Opera Behind The Soap Operas

Okay, so I initially didn't plan on doing this particular blog entry today, but given that there's a current scandal brewing in the world of daytime television, it gave me the idea for the topic – a topic that I actually had to do a lot of research on, as I don't really have much experience with soap operas.

But given the real life soap opera that is unfolding behind the scenes of one of America's most watched daytime shows, I thought it would be a good lead-in. And, I suppose that this also inspired the title of this particular blog entry.

The Soap Opera Behind The Scenes of Soap Operas”. Kind of catchy, no?

So, I imagine that almost all of you who regularly watch soaps know all about “The Young and the Restless”. It's a show that celebrated 40 years on the air in 2013, and has been ranked the #1 daytime drama for twenty-five of those forty years.  That's quite a magnificent feat, given that the setting of the daytime drama is a mid-sized town that happens to be placed in a state that is most famous for cheese than anything else.

Of course, behind the fictional world of Genoa City, Wisconsin which includes several mansions, an athletic club, and a coffeehouse named "Crimson Lights" are real actors making a living doing what they do best in front of cameras on a soundstage at CBS headquarters in California.  And, on December 19, 2013, news broke that completely blurred the lines between fictional soap opera and real life scandal.

That was the day that the news broke that actor Michael Muhney, who has played the role of Adam Newman since 2009, had been fired.  And, naturally when the news broke out, many fans of the show were extremely shocked - especially when you consider that he had a strong fan base on the show, and his role of Adam was praised for being so multi-dimensional and layered.

Oh, sure, Adam Newman was an extremely flawed character who could be sweet as pie one day, and horribly evil the next.  What do you expect when you consider that his father is Victor Newman, probably one of the most ruthless characters on the whole show?

Needless to say, when fans learned that Muhney's last airdate would be at the end of January, 2014, there was a huge uproar on social media, with Michael's fans demanding to know why he was let go, and with lots of questions being thrown in the air without any answers being given.

So, when various websites began reporting details of what really happened with Muhney's firing, fans of the show soon wished they were still in the dark.  

According to various other websites (I think TMZ broke the story, but I'm really not sure), Muhney was let go from the show because he allegedly caused tension behind the scenes by engaging in some sexual misconduct with another actress on the show - a much younger actress who for the sake of this blog entry will remain nameless.  I say "allegedly" because at this point, I really don't know all the story, and unlike some tabloids I want to make sure that all information I post is accurate because the last thing I want is to post erroneous information here.

Erroneous opinions, I can deal with.  Erroneous information is a no-no.

Anyway, the information we do know is this.  Muhney has been let go from the soap indefinitely.  Muhney himself has stated in interviews that he "saw it coming", which implies that he at least knew what the circumstances were behind the loss of his job and has more or less accepted it.  And, for some reason, I also did some digging and discovered that a group of Muhney's fans actually paid money to fly a banner over the CBS studios where the show is taped, demanding that Muhney be re-hired (I mean, seriously?  There must be better ways to spend your money).

But on the ugly side, the actress who is also involved in this real life soap opera is now facing the wrath of Muhney fans who have posted some rather disgusting comments towards her and actually blaming her for the loss of their favourite star, which has caused some other members of the cast to publicly defend her.

It's just one gigantic mess.

For what it's worth, I don't know all the facts...but if things happened the way that they did with Muhney guilty of sexual misconduct with a younger co-star and the younger co-star did not like it at all, then as far as I'm concerned, it's an open and shut case.  No workplace in this day and age accepts sexual harassment as being okay, and soap opera soundstages should be no exception.  If things happened the way they did, Muhney's firing was justified.  Regardless though, I think that people just need to calm down about it.  Stop sending banners over studios, and stop the harassment of all the parties involved.  Let the parties deal with the situation themselves.

But you know, the more research I did on this particular case, the more tales from other soap opera sets that had me realizing that this latest incident isn't the only time in which the behind the scenes action seemed more dramatic than what was shown every weekday afternoon.  Upon research, I have found at least four other instances in which the behind the scenes action turned ugly in a huge way.  In most of these stories, the truth has been revealed, but in other cases, it's a little bit of a "he said/she said" tale.  I will make this clear as I continue with this blog though, as I definitely don't want to state that something is fact when it really isn't.

And, well, since we began with Y&R, let's continue with Y&R, shall we?


Now, to longtime viewers of "The Young and the Restless", you may recognize the two names above as being huge stars of the soap opera world.  After all, between Peter Bergman and Eric Braeden, they have a combined fifty-nine years of experience on the show.  Eric Braeden has played the role of ruthless Victor Newman since 1980, while Peter Bergman took over the role of Jack Abbott from the late Terry Lester in 1989.

But had show creator William J. Bell been pushed to do it, both men would have seen their careers end one fateful day in 1991.  

Now, on the show, Victor and Jack are enemies.  In fact, the last twenty-five years or so, Victor and Jack have been trying to take each other down.  It's probably one of the longest soap opera rivalries to ever be seen on daytime television.  But while some actors might play enemies on television, they may be the best of friends when the cameras shut off.

But apparently the hate between Victor and Jack turned personal, and from various articles that I have read, the tension between Bergman and Braeden became so great that it actually ended with both actors exchanging punches!  And, this prompted Bell to step in and tell both of them that if it happened again, he would have both of them fired on the spot, and their roles would be recast.

Since then, Bergman and Braeden have seemingly squashed their feud with each other and have maintained a professional working relationship since, with both men owning up to their part in the scuffle.  However, I'm curious now to see some of those Y&R episodes from 1991, just to see if the two actors were acting, or if they really did hate each other.


Another dynamic fight of epic proportions reportedly took place on the set of Y&R between two actresses who are no longer on the show.  Victoria Rowell portrayed the role of Drucilla Winters off and on between 1990 and 2007, and Michelle Stafford played the role of Phyllis Summers Newman off and on between 1994 and 2013.

And, much like the characters of Jack Abbott and Victor Newman, it's a safe bet to say that Phyllis and Drucilla did not get along with each other at all.  Here's just one of their many fights on the show.

But again, much like the incident between Bergman and Braeden, a fight scene between Stafford and Rowell turned personal, according to Rowell's claims anyway.

After Drucilla was killed off in 2007 (though to be fair, her body was never found), Rowell did a series of interviews with various soap publications, and Rowell made the claim that things turned ugly between her and Stafford during a scene in which Drucilla and Phyllis were arguing.  At some point, Rowell made the claim that during a rehearsal, Stafford actually did a spit take and spat all over her, prompting a battle between the two co-stars.  Rowell also made claims that Stafford, as well as couple of other Y&R cast members actually launched a campaign to see that she never came back to the show again.  It's unknown whether these allegations that Rowell has made have any truth to them, as Stafford has never publicly spoken about the incident.  But, I will say that Stafford has left the show, could it be possible that we see Drucilla again?  Time will tell.


I suppose it's kind of symbolic that when they were acting on "The Bold and the Beautiful" together that Kimberlin's character of Sheila Carter would shoot Hunter's character of Taylor Forrester, making Taylor's family believe that she was dead for three years, because if you believe Hunter Tylo's claims, Kimberlin was the one who blew their friendship away.

At one point, Kimberlin and Hunter were very good friends.  When Brown crossed over to the B&B from Y&R in 1992, Hunter and Kimberlin were involved in quite a few stories together and their friendship seemed solid.

But then Hunter Tylo's marriage was beginning to falter, and at the divorce proceedings, it was expected that Kimberlin and her husband would be called to testify as character witnesses, given how close the two couples were.  What Hunter didn't expect to see happen was that Kimberlin would actually be on the side of her husband, and as a result of this, the former friends fell out for good.

Hunter Tylo left "The Bold and the Beautiful" for good in 2013.  As for Brown, she hasn't been seen on B&B since 2003, and since the character of Sheila Carter was supposedly killed off on Y&R, it's unknown if she'll ever come back to the show again...but I suppose you never know.


These days, Sarah Michelle Gellar is making people laugh on the sitcom "The Crazy Ones", but twenty-one years ago - when Gellar was just sixteen years old - she debuted on the set of ABC's "All My Children" as a character named Kendall Hart who had a surprising connection to one of the residents of Pine Valley.  She was actually the illegitimate daughter of original "All My Children" diva Erica Kane, played by Lucci during the soap's entire broadcast history on ABC.

Of course, Erica didn't take too kindly to the idea of Kendall being her daughter, and between 1993 and 1995 (when Gellar left the series) the plot revolved around the scheming Kendall clashing with the headstrong Erica.

Turns out that if the stories heard around set were true, it was art imitating life.  It was widely reported that there was tension between Lucci and Gellar, and there were reports of everything happening from Gellar's mother getting too professionally involved in the show to Lucci being insanely jealous of Gellar's sudden popularity.  Now, I don't know if any of this was true, but I can't imagine Lucci feeling all that happy when Sarah Michelle Gellar won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1995 after just two years when Lucci had been nominated for fifteen years without taking home one award!

Whatever the case, Gellar left in 1995, became a big star through "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer", and is now married to Freddie Prinze Jr.  And, Lucci ended up winning an Emmy in 1999.  But do tensions still remain between Gellar and Lucci?  Nobody is talking, though when Sarah Michelle Gellar did a cameo for the final episode of "All My Children", it was quite telling that she never shared any screen time with Lucci...

And, that's all I have for this week's edition.  I'm sure that there are more soap opera behind the scenes feuds that I haven't touched upon yet.  If any of you know of any other stories that you have heard, or want to comment on this story, feel free!


  1. In regarding to Victoria Rowell and Michelle Stafford - that is still an on-going feud. I don't know if you are aware of this but Victoria Rowell is suing Sony and CBS for discrimination and is alleging there was more shenanigans on the YR set involving Peter Bergman and Melody Thomas Scott. She is alleging they discriminated against her in simpatico with Michelle Stafford. Also she alleges there are not many black characters on both BB and YR and she wants to either return to YR as Drucilla or be on Bold as a new character but you know that won't happen now this lawsuit is on-going.

  2. There is one very infamous feud from Y&R' that you forgot and that was the tension, that actress Brenda Dickson (the original Jill Abbott) was causing on the set between cast members and crew. She really pissed the late Bill Bell off, when she refused to play the character a certain (& wanted more money), showing up late to work, to the point Bill Bell had her black bald. After she was fired from Y&R in 1987, she never again appeared on any other soap (or show for that matter) and filed a suit against the show (Bell & CBS) for deformation of character. The documentary "E! True Hollywood Stories" did a behind the scenes on Y&R years ago and goes into great detail about this.