Wednesday, March 26, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) — "The Young and the Restless" took a break from love, deception and backstabbing to celebrate the soap's 41st anniversary on Tuesday.
Led by longtime stars Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott and Peter Bergman, the cast and crew gathered to celebrate a day early. The CBS show has been daytime's top-rated soap since December 1988 and was recently renewed through 2017.
"We've been very fortunate that we're still number one and our ratings are even higher than they have been," Scott said.
A chocolate cake in the shape of the number 1 and covered in white icing with a red "YR" logo was cut on the set at Television City in Hollywood.
"It's a giant chunk of television history," said Bergman, who plays scheming Jack Abbott. "There aren't many 41-year-old shows out there."
No one from the show's debut on March 26, 1973 — when it was just 30 minutes long — remains with the show. Jeanne Cooper, who arrived six months later to play grand dame Katherine Chancellor, died in May at age 84. But she is remembered fondly by her former co-stars.
"She's up there orchestrating things for sure," Scott said.
Braeden is in his 34th year playing ruthless tycoon Victor Newman, who is re-married yet again to Scott's character, Nikki Newman.
"Crazy as it is, we love each other," Scott said of their on-screen coupling. "We're not anywhere near the end of the road on that."
Joining the celebration was Lee Phillip Bell, who co-created the show with her late husband, Bill. Their daughter, Lauralee Bell, plays Christine, a role she has returned to at various times over the years.
At 84, Bell still comes to the studio a few hours daily to answer fan mail and take phone calls, but other than her daughter, no one from the Bell family works on the show anymore.
"She usually only points out the things that she's not happy with and says, 'Maybe your father wouldn't have done that,' " Lauralee Bell said of her mother. "It's kind of fun every once in a while when she says, 'Oh, they're in bed again.' "
"Y & R" airs its 10,376th episode on Wednesday. Lauralee Bell attributes the show's enduring success to its familiar characters who viewers have embraced over the years.
"There's still so many people they can count on every day when their lives are crazy," she said of the audience. "'It's like their other family. They don't abandon you."