Michael Gross by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
One of the great patriarchs of '80s TV,
, will join
The Young and the Restless
on Aug. 15. He'll once again be seen as an antiestablishment, hippie dad - only
one is radically different.
On his beloved sitcom, Gross played Steven Keaton, a former '60s peacenik holding onto his flower-power principles while trying to raise a family in Reagan's America. On
, he's River Baldwin, a former Vietnam-era activist who was connected to a group of student terrorists.
So far, viewers have been led to believe that River - the long missing dad of Genoa City attorney Michael Baldwin (Christian Jules LeBlanc) - was a drifter, druggie and draft dodger who abandoned Michael and his mother, Gloria (Judith Chapman), and fled to Canada. He was also wanted for murder after his participation in a bank bombing.
"But the truth is not so black and white," says
head writer Maria Arena Bell. "In trying to track down his father, Michael fears he's going to find a very amoral guy. What he ends up finding is someone totally unexpected." Adds Gross: "River is a very different character than you're
accustomed to seeing on a soap - it's like he's from another planet. He was part of a political movement that greatly affected his family. Now he'll be forced to examine the choices he made."
The 61-year-old actor says he's loving the role but admits he's in suds shock. "I walk through the halls at CBS and see all these photos of
actors - every one is young, chiseled and picture-perfect," Gross says with a laugh. "And then here I am, the Old and the Feckless! What am I
here? I just hope they have oxygen and a stretcher standing by." -