Friday, May 23, 2014

Exclusive: Huge casting scoop at Y&R

Looks like there's never a dull roar over at The Young and the Restless. Yesterday, the hit soap announced that they finally have a solution to comatose Phyllis, formerly portrayed by powerhouse Michelle Stafford, who left the show last August and just joined General Hospital. The show announced yesterday that they'd cast Gina Tognoni as the new Phyllis Summers, who will debut in "late summer". Tognoni definitely is not new to the soap opera genre, having previously been recognized as Kelly Cramer on One Life to Live and Dinah Marler on Guiding Light. While some say Tognoni is a bit young for Phyllis, and I concur, I'm nonetheless happy that the show chose to cast a soap opera veteran over yet another newbie to the genre.

However, today, news broke that the soap has chosen to replace David Tom as Billy Abbott with Burgess Jenkins, who has had numerous primetime roles and is new to daytime. Honestly, I was not surprised at all that the show chose to replace Tom in the role, who just returned in February after previously portraying the role as a teenager from 1999 to 2002 (winning a Daytime Emmy for the role in 2000). But it soon became easy to see that there was a reason for Tom not gaining very much notibility after leaving Y&R in 2002. So to say, he's not the strongest of actors. At first I thought he had some good chemistry with his onscreen wife Amelia Heinle, but as time passed I realized that there wasn't really much there, let alone chemistry with anyone else.

Despite there being a lot of fanfare with his long awaited return (first announced in November), Tom being replaced just doesn't surprise me. What I think happened was that the brass at CBS Daytime wanted to give Tom another shot in the role because he was clearly liked during his first run. Bold executive producer Jill Farren Phelps, who probably had her own idea of who she wanted to portray Billy, agreed to give Tom another shot in the role. Now, she has decided that it isn't working and has cast Burgess Jenkins to take over. (I don't know if this is actually the case, this is just what I think happened.)

I usually try to go into a recast for a role with an open mind. However, it takes me time to get used to them as the character. Unfortunately, it seems that actors have a tendency to exit just at a time where I have gotten used to them and have started to like them a bit (the case with David Tom). I will go into both Gina Tognoni as Phyllis and Burgess Jenkins as Billy with an open mind, however, the last time Y&R cast a "primetime" actor to replace someone in the cast was the sad, sad tale of Blake Hood being replaced as Kyle Abbott with Hartley Sawyer, a completely terrible actor who was finally let go after a short-lived 8-month run as the character (in fact, his character just fizzled out in January; his absence was explained sometime later.) So, I'm praying to Lord Jesus that Jenkins is a good actor and a nice fit for Billy Abbott. And I am praying that this is the end of replacements over at The Young and the Restless, at least for awhile. Give me a chance to get used to everyone together. Catch Y&R weekdays on CBS.

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