Thursday, May 30, 2024

Chaos at “Young and Restless” as Emmy Winner Eileen Davidson Reportedly Quits After Actors’ Longtime Pay Freeze Revealed


UPDATE Davidson confirmed her departure on Twitter this morning. It’s all about money. But she gives a classy farewell. Angelica McDaniel and Margot Wain, heads of CBS Daytime, are responsible for this.

There’s chaos at the CBS’s number 1 soap, “The Young and the Restless.” Reports tonight say recent Emmy winning Best Actress Eileen Davidson has quit the show. She’s played Ashley Abbott on and off since 1982 and is wildly popular.

But there’s a lot of bad stuff going on at the soap. I told you last week that they’ve lost between 600,000 and 1 million viewers since December. That’s pretty crazy.

Then also last week came news that one of the show’s breakout stars, Mishael Morgan, quit the soap after five years. Morgan, who is African American, has been on the show’s front burner since she arrived, and seemed like a keeper if she didn’t jump to prime time or movies. She’s a star.

But also last week, Morgan’s manager, David Ritchie, told a soap magazine that Morgan has not had a raise since she arrived five years ago. He also claimed that many of the actors on “Y&R” have not had pay increases. (This would certainly explain a lot of things since “Y&R” has had a high rate of attrition.)

Ritchie said: “… in the first negotiation there was no increase in pay. For various reasons, Mishael and her team, we accepted that and we signed on for two more years. But for this third contract, the series offered no increase in pay.”

As for the other actors, Ritchie– who is in Canada and refreshingly honest–said: “Also for the record, I did a lot of investigating and I found out that, per my sources, a lot of the other cast on the show did not receive raises in their contract negotiations either.”

When I emailed Ritchie, this is how he responded to my query: “I appreciate your interest and thanks for reaching out. I respect what all of you do for the industry as a whole. At this point, I think it’s best to move forward in search of other endeavours for my client rather than continue to discuss past projects. Thank you for understanding.”

“Y&R” is owned by Sony Television and broadcast by CBS, similar to the relationship CBS had with Procter and Gamble with the cancelled soaps “As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light.”  P&G conspired to kill those shows in 2010 when CBS didn’t want to pay high fees to keep them going. Their modus operandi was to cut popular actors in order to shoo off fans. When the ratings went down, CBS was able to claim a reason for cancelling the shows.

Now it would seem CBS is taking that position again. It’s unclear what they would replace “Y&R” and its sister show, “The Bold and the Beautiful” with if they did pull the plug. ABC is certainly toying with using an expanded “Good Morning America” to knock off their remaining soap, “General Hospital.” But not only is CBS third in the morning news race, “The Talk” is second to ABC’s “The View.” So they don’t have a ready replacement if they’re trying to kill the show.

Morgan’s exit can be dealt with; she’s been there a relatively short time. But Davidson’s is more problematic. Even though she’s left before, she’s a mainstay, and has often done double duty on NBC’s “Days of Our Lives,” which is also produced by Sony. It’s possible after her Emmy win she asked for more money and was told ‘no.’ If she’s leaving, this time it’s with an Emmy and a high profile from a stint on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Davidson has removed all mention of the soap from her social media.

If Ritchie is right, the “Y&R” cast been treated pretty badly for a long time. And you know, soap actors never speak up unless they’re prepared to walk, because their industry is small and blacklisting by networks and producers is a regular problem. If they ever started talking, they’d make quite a noise. #Themtoo

Stay tuned…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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