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A ‘Very Good Year’ for ‘Young & Restless’

Apr 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

“The Young and the Restless” snagged 16 Daytime Emmy nominations this year-the most of any show. Co-head writer/co-executive producer John Smith offered a very simple explanation: “It was a very good year for us,” said Mr. Smith, in a classic, if unsoaplike, understatement. “We had strong story, performance and production.”
Mr. Smith credited “a combination of story lines” for the show’s continued success in garnering nominations-not to mention its committed fan base. Each year, daytime dramas submit sample episodes for members of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to judge. Throughout the voting period, Mr. Smith said, he makes notes whenever he sees an episode he feels could be submitted for consideration.
“This year I had a list of about 25 shows for the best show category,” he said. “I felt I could’ve submitted many of them, but I wanted to get one that was understandable for a judge, who might be watching the show for the first time.”
Mr. Smith declined to describe the episode “Y&R” entered for outstanding drama series, but said, “It portrays what I thought was classic `Y&R’ in terms of strength of story, performance and production.”
“Y&R” received eight nominations in the various acting categories. This is the fourth nomination for Michelle Stafford, who plays Phyllis Abbott, a volatile but vulnerable computer expert and the estranged wife of cosmetic company CEO Jack Abbott. Ms. Stafford was nominated in the outstanding supporting actress category in 1996 and won in1997. She was nominated as outstanding lead actress last year and is back in that category this year.
“I didn’t drive a story line last year,” Ms. Stafford said, “but all you need is two great shows to submit to the panel, which I did, thanks to our wonderful writers.”
Ms. Stafford also declined to describe her two shows, except to say that they deal with the troubled marriage between Phyllis and her husband, played by Peter Bergman.
In addition to the strong performance, “Y&R” is widely heralded for its classy look. Supervising producer Edward Scott, who recently returned to the show after a two-year absence, said the show’s producers work hard to maintain high production values. “For our show, it’s the icing on the wedding cake,” he said.
It’s always impossible to guess how many nominations will turn into wins, and this year is no exception, Mr. Smith said. “That part of the business is really kind of a crap shoot. No matter how strong you are, there have been years where we felt we didn’t get the recognition we deserved,” he said.
“We’ve been the top show for so many years that it was almost inevitable that people were going to become frustrated and would use their voting to express that frustration.”
If Mr. Smith was hinting at some sort of dark conspiracy to deprive the show of due credit, he wouldn’t elaborate, perhaps preferring to save such scenarios for future scripts. “It’s encouraging that the Academy seems to be getting over political issues and looking more at the material,” he said. “I think some of the changes in the voting process have helped that.”