... but sees a continued future for soaps even as he exits. In another shocker for the soapdom universe, Eric Braeden, who plays Victor Newman, the patriarch of the Young and the Restless, the #1 rated daytime drama for the past 1,080 consecutive weeks (that's over 20 years), taped his last scenes on the soap September 23, 2009. Pay cuts and renegotiated contract talks are pegged as the culprit. Baring any unforeseen late negotiations, Braeden will last be seen in Genoa City on November 2, 2009, just as Victor is being sent off to a European facility to rehab after his heart transplant surgery.
"There is no appreciation of the fact that I've been an important part of the show for 27 years that has been #1 in the ratings. That's extraordinary," Braeden told Entertainment Weekly online. "So to be dealt with in a perfunctory matter as if you had just known these people for a few months is what is most offensive. This is a certain corporate culture now that is very deleterious."
Word is that even though the Young and the Restless is coming up on its 21st year as the #1 daytime drama in the ratings, CBS has recently reduced its licensing fee. The licensing fee is what the network pays to the production company to produce the show. Typically, license fees do not cover the entire cost of production and the production company, Sony, in this case, foots the bill for the rest. But if the gap is too wide, and it eats into the profits of the production company, they have two choices:
1) Cut costs
2) Cancel the show
A star like Braeden, who has been on the soap since 1980 and has been getting raises every contract negotiation -- for the most part -- for all those 27 years, is carrying a heavy cost to the production company. Although his Victor Newman is a mainstay in Genoa City, and quite the colorful, intense character, the reality is the show could hire four or five new actors in contract roles and still save money. It does come down to the bottom line.
But Braeden is well aware of the business of making soaps. He even offered to take a pay cut previously. According to EW, Braeden said: "I was the first one [to offer] because I knew that if we all did it, we would insure the continuation of the show. I did it two years ago when I signed my last contract, which I thought would last until next November."
Braeden's contract actually doesn't expire until November 2010, but it is divided into 13 or 26-week cycles, as are all soap opera contracts. At the end of any cycle, the show can decide not to pick up the option for the next cycle. Looks like that's what is happening here.
It's obvious that the star is taking umbrage with Sony's tactics: "I know there are certain economic realities that dictate the actions they are taking right now," Braeden said, "but the manner in which its being done is most insulting."
Nominated nine times for a Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Braeden won the Emmy in 1998, but hasn't been nominated again since 2004. He has won a number of Soap Opera Digest Awards and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.
When asked if he saw the genre still existing in ten years, Braeden was upbeat. "Yes, I can. How many reality shows can you watch? They're so obviously phony. Our show deals with adult problems in a long continuous manner, and very much like the way things are dealt with in real life. In that sense I think there will always be a need for (soaps). They're almost novelistic in their approach."
Yet, Braeden leaving the Young and the Restless comes as another blow to an industry that is suffering. CBS canceled the 72-year old Guiding Light which aired its last episode September 18, 2009 and was replaced with the much cheaper to produce game show, Let's Make a Deal. Rumors are circulating that As the World Turns and/or One Life to Live could be next. All My Children will be relocating to Los Angeles in a cost-cutting move. Thankfully, the grand diva of all soapdom, Susan Lucci, who plays the vulnerable Erica Kane on All My Children, will be moving west with the show. More good news comes in the form of feature film mega star, James Franco (Spiderman 1, 2, and 3; Freaks and Geeks) who contacted General Hospital and asked for them to consider writing him into the soap. The result is that GH hired Franco for a two-month storyline arc beginning November 20, 2009.
Our contacts at Sony have not yet responded to Soapdom's inquires regarding the Braeden matter. However, networks and production companies have a pat reply when it comes to queries of this nature. It goes something like this: "We don't discuss contract negotiations." We'll fill you in if we hear anything different.
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