Our long national nightmare is over! Execs at The Young and the Restless have finally seen the light and are bringing Melody Thomas Scott back to the show. She will resume work in October and hit the air at Thanksgiving. The immensely popular actress — who plays lush-in-distress Nikki Newman — has been off the CBS serial since the end of April, with rumors flying that Sony, which owns the soap, was cutting corners and didn't want to renew her contract just yet. Not a smooth move, considering Thomas Scott was at the top of storyline — and giving the performance of her career — when Nikki suddenly left Genoa City and went into rehab. Curiously, those money issues at Y&R didn't stop the suits from hiring lots of new high-profile faces in recent months, including Emmy-winning suds greats Genie Francis and Debbi Morgan — a fact that did not go ignored by Thomas Scott's legion of irate fans who organized a massive Twitter campaign to bring their girl back. TV Guide Magazine spoke with Thomas Scott to get the scoop on her return and what really went down between her and the penny-pinchers.
TV Guide Magazine: Finally, some good news for Y&R, a show that could really use it right now. In your absence, the ratings have been dropping like crazy. How are you feeling about all this?
Thomas Scott: I'm very happy to be coming back. Whatever weirdness made this all happen now seems to be gone. They have come around and suddenly appreciate me again in the way that [Y&R creator] Bill Bell did back in the old days. This is nothing against [current Y&R chief] Maria Bell and I want to make that very clear. A lot of people have been misled and think that all this has been Maria's fault and that is absolutely not the case. I have never had any ill will toward her through this entire thing. She has been great and extremely supportive.
TV Guide Magazine: So what did happen? Why did the leading lady on the No. 1 soap suddenly vanish?
Thomas Scott: That's a tough question. I can't pretend to know for sure, being the victim here. Sony would have to tell you, which they won't.
TV Guide Magazine: You're not getting off that easy! Do you believe this was financial?
Thomas Scott: Yes, I do but it was not handled very well. I've been in this business since I was three and I know how this works. If a show is having problems with money or budget they call the actor very respectfully and say, "We have a little financial crunch here. Let's try to work something out, okay?" That's what should have happened. The problem was that such a phone call was never made to me and I was left in the lurch. Had they picked up the phone back in March or April and just said two or three sentences to me, none of this would have happened. But nobody said anything, and that started to get a little odd after a couple of weeks of not working. I would call in for my shooting schedule as I usually do and be told, "You have another week off." And this kept happening week after week after week. Then the fans started paying attention to all this and were asking me, "Are you leaving the show?" I had no idea what to say or why I wasn't working. Then all hell seemed to break lose. People were saying I had asked for a leave of absence. False. They were saying, "Oh, Melody, wants to spend time with her new grandbaby twins." False. [Laughs] Well, of course I do want to spend time with them but I would never quit my job over it! Then, when Twitter got hold of this, it became a huge international situation. I owe my return to the fans. Without Twitter, I don't know that I would be coming back. I really attribute it to that. It's pretty amazing. Social networking, baby!
TV Guide Magazine: The situation seemed to be aggravated in June by Maria herself at the Emmys when she assured us in the press room you'd be coming back — but then that was following by several more months of bupkis.
Thomas Scott: Well, again, it's not her fault. In fact, I thought what she said at the Emmys was great because it gave me some real hope — hope I didn't have until that night. I don't want to be the one speculating why they did what they did and why they finally came to me when they did, other than to say I'm very happy to have this whole ugly five months done and over. Strange things happen in this business. I don't know that we ever really know exactly why things go down the way they do. I just know it was never my decision to be gone.
TV Guide Magazine: So, to clarify, you have now signed a new contract with the show?
Thomas Scott: Yes, it is a new contract.
TV Guide Magazine: Where was CBS in all this? Ignoring the situation? Didn't anybody from the network try to step in to fix this mess?
Thomas Scott: I really don't think CBS knew anything about it, and I know that sounds strange but, throughout the years that's pretty much been the case with me. Negotiations are always hell.
TV Guide Magazine: Didn't you find it shocking that, despite Sony's supposed money crisis, the show kept hiring new stars? How could they not pay you yet still find dough for all these Australians no one wants to watch?
Thomas Scott: I am not commenting on that.
TV Guide Magazine: Alrighty then. So what's happening plot-wise when Nikki returns?
Thomas Scott: Well, I can't talk about it just yet but I did get some great plot out of Maria and, you know me, I never call the head writer and ask what's going to happen. I did it this time because I felt it was important. If Nikki was just going to be serving tea and being Victor's slave I wouldn't want to come back for that.
TV Guide Magazine: But we like it when Nikki is Victor's slave! It's been going on for 30 years!
Thomas Scott: Well, Nikki clearly doesn't mind. Yes, he is emotionally abusive to her. And, yes, there are many, many couples out there who are the same way. I don't have a problem with the reality of that. I just don't want younger kids to think that's the way it's supposed to be. Anyway, I can't tell you what Maria told me, but I think it's very exciting.
TV Guide Magazine: Give us something, doll! Is this "exciting" story a new direction for Nikki? Surely there's some small vague crumb you can pass our way.
Thomas Scott: Well, apparently Nikki has been missing for a while. The rehab thing only lasted so long and now she's disappeared and has been doing other things, which is what I can't tell you about at this point. But when she finally comes home there are some very big issues going on with a lot of people and it will create big problems.
TV Guide Magazine: Okay, vague enough. Is Nikki's booze problem behind her?
Thomas Scott: [Laughs] Oh, God, I hope not!
TV Guide Magazine: Isn't she on the list of who-killed-Diane suspects? But how can that be? No matter how many "special smoothies" Nikki drank, she'd never kill Diane. It's plain goofy.
Thomas Scott: [Laughs] Again, I'm not commenting. I really don't get that analytical about this stuff. I'm okay with whatever they do with that story but I have heard there's a really interesting twist to it, something you're not expecting. It's not my worry. I'm just happy I'm coming back to Y&R and that I'm not serving tea!