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Does Victoria Rowell have a case against 'The Young and the Restless'?

On Feb. 11, 2015, actress Victoria Rowell announced that she was suing her former employer, The Young and the Restless, and its parent company, Sony. Rowell contends that the show won’t rehire her to play the role of Drucilla, a part that Rowell vacated in 2007, due to Rowell’s outspoken activism regarding Y&R‘s dearth of African-American actors, writers, and directors. The suit also alleges that Rowell faced racial discrimination during her 14 years of starring on the soap, and that she was never offered the opportunity to either write or direct the program. Rowell is seeking back pay, and a return to playing Dru.

CBS and Sony have denied all charges, insisted that the lawsuit has no merit, and that Rowell is attempting to “rewrite history.”

Does the actress have a case?

It would seem that the easiest charge to dispute would be Rowell’s claim that racial discrimination kept her from getting a chance to write or direct her show.

True, some actors, like Days of Our Lives‘ Alison Sweeney (Sami), have directed. Pamela Long went from an actor on Texas to its head writer, before assuming the same position at Guiding Light and One Life to Live, among others. And Ellen Wheeler and Christopher Goutman were able to transition from actors to directors to executive producers of GL and As the World Turns, respectively. But that’s literally only a handful of people among the thousands of actors who’ve passed through the daytime drama world. It can hardly be considered a common opportunity offered to all, save Rowell.

When I interviewed her for my book, Soap Opera 451: A Time Capsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments, Rowell asserted, “You don’t stay in a storyline if you’re not selling a story, and if you’re not selling the story, you don’t stay employed. At the end of the day, this is about keeping a show on the air, and a show that’s selling soap. You’re selling products. I understood the business dynamics.”

This is presumably why Rowell’s lawsuit also charges that, by refusing her entreaties to reprise Dru, CBS and Sony are undermining their own financial interests for purely personal reasons. Rowell believes that she is a fan favorite whose return will help raise Y&R’s ratings.

Rowell, however, is not the first actor in daytime history to be fired (or, in her case, not be rehired) despite vocal fan support—and to the show’s would-be detriment.

Days of Our Lives‘ Matthew Ashford began playing the wildly popular Jack in 1987. Since then, the actor has been fired, rehired, fired, rehired, recast, rehired, fired for the fifth time, and just basically jerked around to the point where fans wonder whether he’ll ever consider returning again, or whether he’s had enough.

On a smaller scale, DOOL also fired the wildly popular Robert Kelker-Kelly in 1995 when his predecessor, Peter Reckell, wanted to return to the role of Bo. In 1989, they’d hired Shelley Taylor Morgan to assume the role of Angelica when the actress they really wanted, Judith Chapman (now Gloria on Y&R), was unavailable. As soon as Chapman became available, however, they unceremoniously showed Morgan the door.

Something similar happened to General Hospital‘s Robyn Richards. Richards had grown up in the role of Maxie, playing her from 1993 to 2002. She was fired for looking too young, replaced with a presumably more “mature” actress, then rehired only a few months later. She was kept on the back burner for several years before GH finally found another actress they liked better for the role, fired Richards again, and turned Maxie into one of the show’s main younger leading ladies.

Richards was quoted at the time as saying, “Although my initial reaction was a feeling of shock, deep down inside, I really was not surprised. It seems as if this day has been waiting to come ever since I went back to the show three years ago; things had never been the same since.”

It’s show business, folks, and stories like the above are legion. In its last decade on the air, As the World Turns fired not only the mega-popular Tom Eplin (whom they’d taken the trouble to cross over from the canceled Another World as Jake), but also Austin Peck (Brad) for reportedly personal reasons, and Martha Byrne (Lily) over money concerns. Then there’s the treatment Scott Bryce (Craig) endured, which came close to matching the trials and tribulations of Matthew Ashford.

“I’ve had dozens of relationships with executive producers, and this one, with Chris Goutman, was odd and very disconnected,” Bryce recalled to TV Guide at the end of his stint. “I think we had an inherent disagreement or a different vision of who Craig is. Chris would say to me, ‘This is your character, run with it.’ But when I did, he never seemed pleased. And it’s hard to go to work when you don’t really have the support of the captain of the ship, which is what I felt. So when the time came and I was fired, I wasn’t shocked. I gave 100 percent. The only thing that kind of annoys me was that I was fired over the phone during the holidays. That felt disrespectful and unnecessary. Did Goutman ever lie to me? Never. Was I misled? Never. I worked hard. I respected the story as much as I could. I played the good soldier and didn’t bitch. I called him ‘sir.’ I showed up on time and did my scenes in one take. That’s not enough?”

When Y&R‘s current producer, Jill Farren Phelps, was top dog at AW, she killed off two extremely popular characters, Ryan and Frankie, even though both were part of established supercouples and just as key to the Bay City canvas as Dru had once been in Genoa City.

Meaning this all comes down to a basic question: Sure, many soap-opera producers are not very nice people. But are they racist, not very nice people?

What do you think?

And, perhaps equally important, what do you think Victoria Rowell will be able to prove?

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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