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The Young and the Restless (often abbreviated as Y&R) is an American television soap opera created by Lee Phillip Bell and the late William J. Bell for CBS. It first broadcast on March 26, 1973 as half-hour episodes five times a week. It was then expanded to one hour on February 4, 1980.

Set in Genoa City, Wisconsin, the show originally focused on two core families: the wealthy Brooks family and the working class Foster family. After a series of recasts and departures, all the original characters except Jill Abbott were written out. Bell replaced them with new families, the Abbotts and the Williamses. Over the years, other families such as the Newmans, Winters, and the Baldwin-Fishers were introduced. Despite these changes, one storyline that has endured through almost the show's entire run is the feud between Jill and Katherine Chancellor, the longest rivalries on any American soap opera.

Since its debut, The Young and the Restless has won a total seven Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series in 1975, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1993, 2004, and 2007, and was won a complete total of 56 Daytime Emmy Awards. It is also currently the highest-rated daytime drama on American television. As of 2008, it has appeared at the top of the weekly Neilsen ratings in that category for more than 1,000 weeks since 1988. In 2014, the series was renewed until 2017. Y&R is also a sister show to Bell's CBS soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, as several actors have crossed over between the shows since 1993.

Production

To compete with the youthful ABC soap operas, All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital, CBS executives wanted a new daytime serial that was youth oriented. William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell created The Young and the Restless in 1972 for the network under the working title, The Innocent Years! "We were confronted with the very disturbing reality that young Americans had lost much of its innocence," Bell said. "Innocence as we had known and lived it all our lives had, in so many respects, ceased to exist." They changed the title of the series to The Young and the Restless because they felt it "reflected the youth and mood of the early 1970s." The Bells named the fictional setting for the show after the real Genoa City, Wisconsin, which was located on their way to their then-home in Chicago to their annual summer vacation spot in Lake Geneva.

The Young and the Restless began airing on March 26, 1973, replacing the cancelled soap, Where The Heart Is. Bell worked as head writer from the debut of the series until his retirement in 1998. He wrote from his home in Chicago while production took place in Los Angeles. John Conboy acted as the show's first executive producer, staying in the position until 1982. Bell and H. Wesley Kenney became co-executive producers that year until Edward Scott took over in 1989. Bell then became senior executive producer. Other executive producers included David Shaughnessy (1992-2004), John F. Smith (2003-2006), Lynne Marie Latham (2006-2007), Josh Griffith (2006-2008, 2008), Maria Arena Bell (2008-2012), and Paul Rauch (2008-present).

In the mid-1980s, Bell and his family moved to Los Angeles to create a new soap opera. During this time, his three children, William Jr., Bradley, and Lauralee Bell, each became involved in soap operas. Lauralee Bell worked as an actress on Y&R. Bradley co-created The Bold and the Beautiful with his father in 1987. William Bell Jr. became involved in the family's production companies as president of Bell Dramatic Serial Co. and Bell-Phillip Television Productions Inc. "It's worked out very well for us because we really all worked in very different aspects of the show," William Jr said. "With my father and I, it was a great kind of partnership and pairing in the sense that he had total control of the creative side of the show and I didn't have even the inclination to interject in what he was doing."

After Bell's retirement in 1998, a number of different head writers took over the position, including Kay Alden (1998-2006), Trent Jones (2000-2004), John F. Smith (2002-2006), Lynne Marie Latham (2006-2007), Scott Hamner (2006-2007, 2008, 2008-2012), Josh Griffith (2007-2008, 2012-present), Maria Arena Bell (2008-2012), and Hogan Sheffer (2008-2012).

In 2012, former General Hospital executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps, was hired as the new executive producer of the soap, replacing Bell. Griffith was also named the sole head writer. 

Videotaping and Broadcasting

Taped at CBS Television City in studios 41 and 43 in Hollywood since its debut in 1973, the show was packaged by the distribution company Columbia Pictures Television. Y&R originally aired as a half-hour series on CBS and was the first soap opera to focus on the visual aspects of production, creating "a look that broke with the visual conventions of the genre." Similar to the radio serials that had preceded them, soap operas at the time primarily focused on dialogue, characters, and story, with details like sets as secondary concerns. Y&R stood out by using unique lighting techniques and camera angles, similar to Hollywood-style productions. The style of videotaping included using out-of-the-ordinary camera angles and a large number of facial close-ups with bright lighting on the actors' faces. Conboy said he used lighting to create "artistic effects." Those effects made the series look dark, shadowy, and moody. Y&R look influenced the taping styles of other soaps. When H. Wesley Kenney replaced Conboy as executive producer in 1982, he balanced the lighting of the scenes.

Due to the huge success of the series, CBS and their affiliates pressured Bell to extend the series from a half-hour to a full hour in 1980. Bell attributed this change to the show's fall from number one in the Neilsen ratings, since the lengthening of the show led to the departure of a number of cast members. "The issue of performing in a one-hour show had not been part of their contracts," Bell said. This forced the show to recast multiple main characters and eventually phase out the original core families in favor of new ones.

On June 27, 2001, Y&R became the first daytime soap opera to be broadcast in high-definition. In September 2011, its sister soap, B&B became the last soap opera to make the transition in HD.

Casting and Story Development

William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell centered the series around two core families: the wealthy Brooks and the poor Fosters. Bell borrowed this technique of soap opera building from his mentor, Irna Phillips.

While casting for the series, Bell and executive producer John Conboy auditioned over 500 actors for the 13 main characters. They assembled the youngest group of actors ever cast on a soap opera at the time, hiring mostly unknown actors who they considered "glamorous model types." Chemistry between the actors also factored in the criteria. The stories focused on the younger characters, with an emphasis in fantasy. The fantasy element was reflected in the love story between Jill Foster and the millionaire Phillip Chancellor II; the Leslie Brooks, Brad Elliot, and Laurie Brooks love triangle; and Snapper Foster's romance with Chris Brooks.

Sexuality also played a major role in the stories. Formerly, soap operas did not delve into the sexual side of their romances. Bell changed that, first during his time as head writer on Days of Our Lives and again on 'Y&R'. William Gary Espy's Snapper Foster is considered the "first to discover sex on a soap opera." During the story, the character is engaged to Chris Brooks (played by Trish Stewart) and having a sexual relationship with Sally McGuire (played by Lee Crawford). Other plots reflected sexual themes as well. For the first time in the genre, the dialogue and the story situations included explicit sexual themes such as premarital intercourse, sodomy, impotence, incest, and rape. The series also explored social issues. Jennifer Brooks underwent the first mastectomy on a soap opera. Other social issue storylines included bulimia, alcoholism, and cancer. Lesbianisms was also touched on with Katherine Chancellor (played by the late Jeanne Cooper), who flirts with Jill while drunk in 1974 and has a brief relationship with Joanne Curtis (played by Kay Heberle) in 1977.

When the series lengthened to an hour in 1980, multiple cast members who portrayed characters from the original core families departed because their contracts only bound them to performing in a half-hour show. A number of the characters were recast until one of the few remaining original actors, Jaime Lyn Bauer, who portrayed Laurie Brooks, decided to leave. When she announced her intention not to renew her contract, Bell decided to replace the original core families. "As I studied the remaining cast, I realized I had two characters - Paul Williams, played by Doug Davidson, and Jack Abbott, played by Terry Lester - both of whom had a relatively insignificant presence on the show," Bell said. "They didn't have families. Hell, they didn't even have bedrooms. But these became the two characters I would build our two families around."

The characters from the Abbott and Williams families were integrated into the series while the Brooks and Foster families, with the exception of Jill, were phased out. The continuity of the feud between Katherine and Jill, which began in the early years of the show, smoothed the transition. The relationship between the two women remained a central theme throughout the series and became the longest lasting rivalry in daytime history.

Another character introduced in the 1980s was the famous Victor Newman, played by The Rat Patrol's Eric Braeden. Originally, the character was "a despicable, contemptible, unfaithful wife abuser" who was intended to be killed off. Braeden's tenure on the show was meant to last between 8 and 12 weeks. "When I saw Eric Braeden's first performance - the voice, the power, the inner-strength - I knew immediately that I didn't want to lose this man," Bell said. "He was exactly what the show needed. Not the hateful man we saw on-screen, but the man he could and would become." Bell rewrote the story to save the character and put Braeden on contract. Victor's romance with Nikki Reed (played by Melody Thomas Scott) became a prominent plot in the series.

With the success of another iconic character, Kimberlin Brown's Sheila Carter, Bell made daytime drama history in 1992 by successfully crossing her over from Y&R to his second soap, B&B. The success of the crossover was due in part to the creativity of Bell, as the nefarious character of Sheila was presumed to have died in a fire on Y&R.

In the 1990s, core black characters were introduced with the Barber and Winters family. Victoria Rowell and Tonya Le Williams were cast as Drucilla Winters and Olivia Winters respectively as the nieces of Abbott's maid, Mamie Johnson, in 1990. The Winter brothers, Neil and Malcolm (played by Kristoff St. John and Shemar Moore) were introduced as love interests for Olivia and Drucilla. Y&R became popular among black viewers, which Williams and St. John attributed to the writing for the black characters. "I play a CEO at a major corporation, that's something we don't see that often," St. John said. "And the show doesn't use the old African-American stereotypes that we have been seeing on TV, like the hustler, the pimp, the drug dealer. We have come a long way." Though the characters held prominent positions in the fictional work place of Genoa City, they had little interaction with other characters outside of their jobs.

Executive Producers and Head Writers

Name Years Production Notes/Contributions
William J. Bell 1973–2005 As being the show's creator and longtime head writer until 1998, he served as the main executive producer while working alongside of other executive producers. He wasn't credited as an executive producer until 1982 when his credit began appearing with H. Wesley Kenney. Served as solo EP from 1986 to 1987 after Kenney's departure. He received the title of "senior executive producer" when Edward Scott became EP and remained credited with the title until 2004 when he returned to the executive producer credit with John F. Smith as co-executive producer. William J. Bell died on April 29, 2005, and on the following Monday, his credit as EP was edited from the show; he was still living when those episodes were filmed.
John Conboy 1973–1982 Served as the show's first executive producer while credited with the "produced by" credit as the title of executive producer was credited hardly on any soaps (other than a small few), until the mid-1970s to 1980s. It was under his run when CBS wanted Y&R expanded from 30 minutes to an hour with the cancellation of Love of Life. Also the show switched from the live-to-tape filming technique to pre-recording episodes, a practice that remains in effect to this date as with all soaps. John departed in 1982 to produce his newly created soap, Capitol, which was later cancelled to make room for The Young and the Restless sister soap, The Bold and the Beautiful.
H. Wesley Kenney 1982–1986 Guided the show with more action-driven story direction which helped the show win Daytime Emmy awards in 1983, 1985, and 1986. Began crediting the show's cast in alphabetical order, a standard that remains to this date. Ceased the fade to next scene transition effect within the show's episodes. Had artist Sandy Dvore, who designed the art drawing photos in the show's main title, to design the show's signature stylized brush stroke logo on Y&R merchandise in 1982, leading to the debut of the logo in the show's main title in January 1984.
Edward J. Scott 1987–2001 Debuted on the show in 1976 as an associate producer eventually becoming the "produced by" producer under John Conboy until 1987. Briefly filled in as EP for H. Wesley Kenney in 1986. Helped the show rise to co-#1 in 1987 with General Hospital in ratings before it solely dethroned GH as #1 in 1988 and has since remained there. Retired the longtime art drawing cast montage of the opening credits in 1988. Began the practice of crediting production principals on opening scenes of the show and adding the cast members' real-life names to the opening credits in 1999. Ceased the last commercial break between the last scene and end credits. Converted the show into HDTV in 2001, making the first soap opera in history to do so. Returned from 2004 to 2007 as "supervising producer", a position he previously had briefly in 1987. Real-life husband of actress Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman).
David Shaughnessy 2001–2004 Assumed executive producer position after serving as a producer and supervising producer since 1991. The Bell Dramatic Serial Co. production logo began appearing with end credits under his run. He managed to score brief returns by veteran actors such as Jaime Lyn Bauer, William Gary Espy, Meg Bennett, and James Houghton (who wrote on the show between 1991 and 2006), all of whom who left the show back in the 1970s and 1980s, for brief storylines in 2002 and 2003. Debut "next episode" preview scenes in 2003, a practice started with the ABC soaps in 1998.
John F. Smith 2003–2006

Became co-executive producer with William J. Bell and David Shaughnessy while still serving as co-head writer with Kay Alden and Trent Jones (until 2004). Worked as a writer on the show since the early 1980s. Still maintained the co-EP title after Bell's passing in 2005. Stepped down in 2006 as EP while remaining as co-head writer until November 2006.

Lynne Marie Latham 2006–2007 Brought on as a "creative consultant" under John F. Smith in November 2005; Latham would later fire Smith as co-head writer in 2006. Promoted to head writer with Kay Alden and Smith in February 2006, then promoted to executive producer, becoming the show's first female EP in October 2006, after the show went that summer without an EP. Tenure as EP/HW was criticized by viewers and insiders for damaging the show's history with out-of-text writing, firing several longtime cast and crew members in favor of several unknowns, and doing too much favoritism. She was fired when she abandoned her post as EP to go on strike with the Writers Guild of America in 2007.
Josh Griffith 2006–2008 Brought on by Latham as her co-executive producer in 2006. Assumed full producer duites in December 2007 when Latham was fired. He also served as head writer with Maria Arena Bell during the 2007-2008 Writers Strike. Remained as EP when Bell became sole head writer until he was fired when it was learned that he was tampering with Bell's stories; this was also known as former EP Edward Scott, who is friends with Griffith, was said to be doing the same thing on Days of Our Lives, leading to his departure of that show. Promoted to sole head writer in 2012 after Bell was fired.
Paul Rauch 2008–2011 The veteran producer debuted as Maria Arena Bell's co-executive producer in October 2008. It was established that his role as co-EP would be to only foresee everything with the production of the show while Bell was solely responsible for the stories. This was the only time Paul ever been a co-EP and his first stop back to soap operas in six years since his departure from Guiding Light in 2002. He opted not to renew his contract with Y&R after three years with the show and stepped down in May 2011.
Maria Arena Bell 2008–2012 Bell is the real life wife of William Bell Jr., the oldest son of William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell. Head wrote the show since December 2007. Maria was named executive producer in October 2008, after Josh Griffith was ousted for tampering with her stories. Bell brought along veteran producer Paul Rauch to help her with the production of the show while she mostly focused on the stories. From 2008 to 2010, she was credited as co-executive producer as well as Rauch, while her credit appeared first. Bell was let go in July 2012 after years of viewer complaints and her final episode aired on October 11, 2012; though she remained credited as HW and EP until October 22, 2012. Under her run, she brought the show's fictional Jabot Cosmetics to life by teaming up with a real cosmetics marketing company to help distribute the products.
Jill Farren Phelps 2012–2016 Named executive producer in July 2012 upon the dismissal of Maria Arena Bell. This marked the second CBS soap opera Phelps executive produced, with the first being Guiding Light from 1991 to 1995. While Bell was still credited, Phelps began her tenure by August as she made several immediate casting changes, such as hiring Robert Adamson and Hunter Haley King, two young actors she worked with on the primetime soap opera Hollywood Heights, respectively. By October, she was still uncredited as executive producer although her first episode aired on October 12, 2012, and received her first official credit on October 23, 2012. In June 2016, it was confirmed that Phelps to be terminated from the series.
Charles Pratt, Jr. 2015–2016 Named co-executive producer in September 2014, sharing the position alongside Jill Farren Phelps. His first credited episode as EP and HW aired on January 16, 2015. On September 13, 2016, it was announced that Pratt would no longer co-executive producer the soap, given his new position as show-runner of Lee Daniels' Star. Pratt was last credited as head writer and co-executive producer on December 6, 2016.
Sally Sussman 2016–2017 Named co-executive producer in September 2016 upon the dismissal of Pratt, Jr. Sussman shares the position with Young, a position she previously served on NBC soap opera Generations. Sussman's first credit as head writer and co-executive producer appeared on December 7, 2016. In July 2017, it was announced that Sussman would retire; she received her last credit as head writer and co-executive producer on October 24, 2017.
Mal Young 2016–2019 Named executive producer in June 2016 upon the dismissal of Jill Farren Phelps. This marks the first American soap opera Young executive produced, having previously been the producer and executive producer of British soap operas BrooksideEastEnders and Holby City. July 13, 2016, marked Young's first appearance as executive producer. Immediate changes made under Young included the return of actress Elizabeth Hendrickson and a return guest appearance from Michael Graziadei in the roles of Chloe Mitchell and Daniel Romalotti, respectively. The series will also celebrate its 11,000th episode under Young's credit on September 1, 2016. In 2017, it was announced that Young would take on head writer duties after Sally Sussman's retirement. Young's first credit as head writer will appear on October 25, 2017. Young announced his decision to leave the series on December 18, 2018. Young received his last credit as executive producer on February 5, 2019, and on March 20, 2019, began co-writing alongside Griffith; Young's last credit as head writer aired on April 1, 2019.
Anthony Morina 2019– Named executive producer in December 2018 upon the exit of Mal Young. Morina was previously credited as a supervising producer from 2004 until 2019; he received his first credit as executive producer on February 6, 2019.
Josh Griffith 2019– Named co-executive producer and head writer in December 2018 upon the exit of Mal Young. Griffith previously returned to the soap in 2018 as a supervising producer; he received his first credit as co-executive producer on February 6, 2019. Griffith first received co-head writing credit, alongside Young, beginning on March 20, 2019, and on April 2, was credited as sole head writer.

Head Writers

Head Writer(s) Years
William J. Bell 1973-1997
William J. Bell/Kay Alden 1997-1998
Kay Alden 1998-2000
Kay Alden/Trent Jones 2000-2002
Kay Alden

John F. Smith

2002-2006
Kay Alden/John F. Smith/Lynn Marie Latham 2006
Lynn Marie Latham 2006-2007
Josh Griffith/Maria Arena Bell 2007-2008
Maria Arena Bell/Hogan Sheffer/Scott Hamner 2008-2012
Josh Griffith/Hogan Sheffer/Tracey Thomson/Shelly Altman 2012-2013
Shelly Altman/Jean Passanante/Tracey Thomson 2013-2015
Charles Pratt, Jr. 2015-2016
Sally Sussman 2016-2017
Mal Young 2017–2019
Josh Griffith/Mal Young 2019
Josh Griffith 2019–present

Cast

Current

Main article: Cast

Former

Main article: Previous cast
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