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Apr 14

Eric Braeden and the real John Jacob Astor

Daytime royalty, with 32 years of playing Victor Newman on “The Young and the Restless” so far, Eric Braeden doesn’t mince words when he talks about how it feels to be on one of the last soaps standing.  “Not very good, to be honest.  They’re replacing the soaps with bull#$@!, with crap.  It’s what happens when huge corporations take over, things are reduced to the lowest common denominator,” blasts the actor, who is being seen on the big screen now as the “Titanic’s” wealthiest passenger, John Jacob Astor.

“You cannot tell me that all of a sudden, people who have been used to the novelistic form of entertainment, soap operas, have suddenly lost interest,” he goes on.  “This form of serialized storytelling goes back to radio, to serialized novels.  Dickens was essentially a soap opera writer.  The desire to see, to be part of that has not died suddenly.  I think it has died in the minds of some executives.”

Braeden’s last contractual go-round, in 2009, was so difficult that for awhile, it appeared he might be ending his run with the show.  He finally wound up with his current three-year deal that runs into the fall.  His feelings about his future on “Y&R”?  “To be honest with you, I don’t know.  I don’t,” he says.  “It depends on how hostile an environment the negotiations are carried out in.  If it’s as adversarial as it was, I have no interest.”

And yet, his love of the work itself continues, he is quick to add.  “I love acting and the challenge of making something real…I think soap actors are the most disciplined lot of all.  Of course, all the way to work, I reflect on the idea that I am still one of the few people working.  I’m deeply grateful to be able to do that.”

SPEAKING OF SOAPS:  Daytime drama fans were heartened this week by ABC’s decision to renew the stalwart “General Hospital,” and give the heave-ho to one of the new alternative daytime shows, “The Revolution.”  And, while soaps have largely disappeared from daytime, they’re proliferating in prime time.  Several soap writers have migrated to ABC Family, grinding out serialized fare for the younger set.  TNT’s upcoming “Dallas” continuation is already causing big excitement months before its June 13 debut.  A network press mailing of the first seven episodes already has many viewers hooked.  Wait until you see that hot younger generation of Ewings!  And what could be soapier than the probable return of Judith Krantz’ “Scruples” as an ABC series starring beautiful people Claire Forlani, Chad Michael Murray and Boris Kodjoe?  Shooting this month, the “Scruples” pilot boasts a script from Bob Brush and Mel Harris, who are executive producing along with Tony Krantz (the elder of author Judith and the late Steve Krantz’ sons), Annette Savitch and Natalie Portman.

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