Yesterday on the official release date of The Young and the Restless’ Jeanne Cooper’s (Katherine Chancellor) new tell-all memoir, Not Young Still Restless, On-Air On-Soaps Michael Fairman chatted with the legendary actress via a special Skype chat while Jeanne was in New York City promoting the release of her book and Fairman was in Los Angeles! During the video interview, an emotional Cooper discussed many parts of her turbulent life with heartfelt honesty, while at the same time laughing about the roller coaster ride of a life she has had off-screen and on-screen as the Grand Dame of Genoa City for over 39 years.
On-Air On-Soaps previously asked fans via our Facebook, Twitter, and posts here at our website, to submit questions for Jeanne and during the mid-way point in the interview she answers many of them that were chosen!
Of course, the hot question on everyone’s mind and ours was how did Jeanne feel about the firing of Maria Arena Bell as the executive producer and head writer of The Young and the Restless, and the hiring of Jill Farren Phelps and Josh Griffith as her successor’s in each of the key roles. Here are some excerpts from the video interview of what Jeanne had to say about that, and what she would do to fix the the enormous population of new characters that have invaded Genoa City!
Jeanne on Maria Bell’s exit: “I was out of town thank God, when it happened. I was honored that both Maria Bell and Steve Kent (Senior Executive Producer, SONY) called me. And, I was honored that both people wanted to tell me their side of the story. I have to say in Maria’s defense, she was serving two hats, one with MOCA (The Museum of Modern Arts) and one with The Young and the Restless. She had a great sense of Y&R having Bill Bell as a father-in-law and learning and writing under his umbrella. But within the art world, it was going down. And Maria as the chairwoman was very beneficial in turning that around. Now that is a very important position. Now put that on top of writing a number one show and what she was trying to do, which kept her from the show a great deal of time. Maria was thinking she had the right people at her back at every turn, and she had laid out storylines assuming her writing team is taking care of that. She was trying to make it blend and teach this way of working to a show, if the storylines had been correctly done. We talked about how it is to handle two major things without paying attention to one without the other. Maria was trying to blend the two and consequently Y&R suffered for it.
Sometimes you would receive a script where you would see something that the characters would never do or say. The writers would shoot an idea rather than a storyline. For instance, you have to make Katherine do something that is very Katherine, not just saying, “Hello? You shouldn’t do that.” Maria thought everything was being taken care of and it just failed at one point. You cannot takeaway characters people have grown up with and say, “You can’t have your aunt or your uncle or your grandma or grandpa.” You cannot rob a person of their emotions, and the fans who have supported the show for years and years. I think had Maria really listened to the audience that was already there for many years, it may have helped her.”
Jeanne on her thoughts on Jill Farren Phelps and Josh Griffith: “Josh Griffith is a lovely and talented man, and I don’t know if Jill will like me. I don’t know her. I don’t know if I will like her. I have nothing against her except if she doesn’t do a great job, she will go the way of everybody else. I hate to see we have become “Birth of a Nation”! Sometimes you go to work and you see a strange face and you go, “Who are you?” This whole switching immediately on the audience … it takes a long time for them and the characters to bond, which is like real life.”
Jeanne on what she would to do fix Y&R: “Everybody is so excited when the core people come back, and none of them are old and decrepit. The point is root families! Eliminate the “Birth of a Nation” and of course there are so many! So I would say what one should do is Genoa City adopts a sister city and the sister city is going to have a tremendous charity fundraiser. And the people going to the sister city climb on board a plane to head toward the sister city and it crashes. That way, you don’t have to explain how anybody died. (Laughs) There would be one big funeral. Then, let’s go back to family dysfunction or functional drama, and it will no longer be “Birth of a Nation”. I wish Jill Farren Phelps all the success in the world, but it cannot be all about cell phones and sex! “Pardon me I am finishing up on Sharon here, I will be with you in a minute.” (Laughs)
Now below watch the entire video interview with Jeanne Cooper, and let us know your thoughts and favorite parts of our chat! NOTE: Due to the Skype chat application used to record this interview, you may need to adjust your volume levels on your computer.