Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott
He didn't mean to throw the Twitterverse into a tizzy. Many fans of CBS's The Young and the Restless — at least the noisy ones on social media — were thrilled when news broke last week that controversial head writer Josh Griffith had exited the show. One fan on Twitter asked Y&R's alpha-dog star Eric Braeden (Victor) his opinion of Griffith's departure and Braeden tweeted back: "I'm very pissed off!!! Enough said!!!" That stunned a lot of folks who apparently assumed the Emmy-winning actor — currently on the back burner like a lot of other beloved Y&R vets — would be doing cartwheels at the prospect of a writer change. TV Guide Magazine sat down with Braeden to find out what he's really thinking — and get more out of him than 140 characters!
TV Guide Magazine: Okay, spill it. Here's your chance to clarify why you're unhappy with a writer change that has a lot of Y&R fans pretty damn pleased.
Braeden: What I really wanted to say is that I don't like change. We had just gotten used to this new writing-producing regime at Y&R and suddenly there's another change, and I don't like it all! It's unsettling. So, yes, it pissed me off, though I was only responding to a fan. I had no idea my tweet would stir things up.
TV Guide Magazine: Had you developed a personal relationship with Griffith? Did that factor in?
Braeden: Not at all. I never have personal relationships with anyone in this business because I've seen too many people come and go. To establish personal relationships with the people you work with is stupid, because you never know when the winds will change. I try not to get too close to people. That doesn't mean I don't care about the show. I care about it very much.
TV Guide Magazine: So you did not feel a writer change was warranted?
Braeden: No! Our ratings are up! I know there are those who feel the veterans are not getting enough attention but that happens every summer, doesn't it? I've been at Y&R for 33 years and each summer I see them make the same egregious mistake of emphasizing storylines that are supposed to lure the mythical young demographic. As the Wall Street Journal reported in an article a few years back, billions upon billions have been misspent in the search for this young demographic, who are not the primary spenders in our society! That misinformation is a cause of enormous frustration for a lot of creative people. But it's industry-wide and everyone abides by it.
TV Guide Magazine: So, then, you're not upset you don't have a storyline?
Braeden: I'm not upset at all. Writing for a soap — writing for 25 characters day in, day out — is one of the most difficult jobs in Hollywood. I have nothing but respect for our writers and in all my years on the show I've maybe had a disagreement with them twice. And, even then, under no circumstances would I bad-mouth a writer. I would not even think about doing that. It's so easy to sit and do Monday-morning quarterbacking and pick our show apart. You think you could do better? Just try that s--t. It's brutal. I wouldn't!
TV Guide Magazine: Then, you're satisfied with the state of Y&R as is?
Braeden: Yes, certainly with what pertains to me. I speak for no one else in the cast but I, for one, can't complain. And Josh has written some very interesting stuff for me that's coming up. And, again, our numbers are up. Hello? I have no idea why this has happened. I am always concerned about the show. It's been a major part of my life, but there's a limit to what one should get involved in. In the end, I'm an actor. I'm paid for what I bring to the screen.
TV Guide Magazine: How are things with you and Y&R exec producer Jill Phelps?
Braeden: I'm getting along with her. She deals well with actors. She likes actors. As far as I can see she is very involved, very hands-on, which I like. It took me a while to get used to that but that was because I was very upset that Maria Bell left, and I didn't really want to accept anyone new for a while. Maria's exit was a double whammy in the sense that she was the last Bell. Right or wrong, I still feel very nostalgic about Bill Bell. Did it take me a while to get used to Jill? Absolutely. But I like her. One can talk to her. I have no beef with her or with Josh whatsoever. I thought things were going well.
TV Guide Magazine: Then you were blindsided by the Griffith news?
Braeden: Oh, you hear rumors all the time, just as you do at any other workplace, and certainly at any large corporation. But I don't listen to that s--t. I show up and do the best I can. You do it for self-preservation. [Laughs] If I were to really get involved in all the rumors and gossip, I'd be pissed off all the time!
TV Guide Magazine: Do you think the next head writer should come from within the current writing team?
Braeden: I don't give a goddamn where they come from, as long as you hire people who understand the characters and know the history of Y&R. It's that simple. We've got to keep this show No. 1.
TV Guide Magazine: One last thing. You're working on your memoirs with author Lindsay Harrison, who did such a super job on Jeanne Cooper's autobiography. How's that going?
Braeden: To be honest with you, it's rough. Not because of Lindsay. I love working with her and she is an excellent writer. But I still feel like I'm putting my toes in the water. [Laughs] Right in the middle of a session with Lindsay, I'll ask myself, "Why the f--k am I doing this?" There is so much to cover, so much to wade through. I came from Germany to Hollywood where I was told by Universal Studios chief Lew Wasserman to drop my real name [Hans Gudegast] because no one with a German name can be a star in America, and I battled with that legacy for so long, so I think there's a story there. When I think about my great conversations with Marlon Brando on the set of Morituri, I think there's a story there, just as I do with my experience working with James Cameron on Titanic. And then there are all my years on Y&R and all that has happened there. [Laughs] But then suddenly I'm taken over by negativity and I think, "Who the hell wants to read this? Will anybody really give a f--k?" So I'm sailing through all these shoals right now. It's a grueling process, but I'm pressing on. And, then, there's the issue of how critical I should be in this book, because I have a lot to say about certain things. [Laughs] No one has ever thought of me as shy!
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