‘Y&R’ Strong Contender for Top Prize

Feb 9, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Who said less is more? It certainly wasn’t Jack Smith, the co-executive producer and co-head writer of daytime’s top-rated “The Young and the Restless,” which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2003.
While soap producers sometimes cannily plot one cataclysmic event with which to wow Emmy judges, this year “Y&R” has at least seven standout plots that make the grade. “We never set out to do a show or a plot that will win an Emmy,” Mr. Smith said. “That’s just not our style. We try to make all the shows really solid.”
No kidding. “Y&R” producers’ biggest dilemma this year will be choosing Oustanding Drama Series Emmy entrants from story lines that include a restaurant fire (for which the show built a special block-long set); the shocking revelation that Kay and Jill, bitter rivals for 25 years, are really mother and daughter; an episode in which Sharon kills creepy Cameron in self-defense; Neil and Dru’s Japanese wedding; Ashley’s car accident and emotional breakdown; the bitchy-funny art council gala; and the stunning plot twist that revealed Kevin, an Internet predator, is Michael’s brother. Good luck to the powers-that-be in reaching a consensus on which two of the 240 or so eligible episodes to submit.
Of course, there are worse problems to have. “Imagine if we only had one to pick,” Mr. Smith said. “The real question is will we pick the two that will link up well and keep the attention of the judges?”
There is every indication that will happen. Daytime insiders give high marks to “Y&R” this year for storytelling, art direction, lighting and, as usual, some great performances. There are very few front-burner cast members who have not been Emmy winners or at least nominees before. While it would be easy to dismiss what is arguably daytime’s best-looking group of stars-and credit hair, makeup and wardrobe for some of that-the stories are always solidly acted. Mr. Smith and co-head writer Kay Alden threw several challenging potboiler story lines at the cast last season, including corporate intrigue, family back-stabbing and some mob activity, not to mention sexually transmitted disease. All were handled with aplomb.
To choose the show’s two Emmy entrants, Mr. Smith said he will rely heavily on his writers and production staff as well as his wife, “a huge fan [who] takes notes on good shows all year.”
Ultimately though, the ball will fall into Mr. Smith’s lap. And if “Y&R” should not win this year, that would be OK too, he said. “You can’t get mad if a show that might not be as strong should win,” he said. “That win helps that show and the entire genre. And it will only make us work harder for next year.”