A long time ago I used to watch soap operas. Mom was a fan of All My Children and my brothers watched One Life To Live until Meredith was killed off (I told you it was a long time ago) but it remained my favorite for many years. My ex-husband and I used to race home from school to watch the ABC soaps and when they went to an hour we were ecstatic. That is not to say that some of the story lines didn't wander in to "what the HECK were you thinking" territory. Eterna? Really? On the other hand, Ryan Phillipe as the first gay teen in a soap opera and subsequent story displayed the best of daytime television. As did Ellen Wheeler's portrayal of a woman dying of AIDS in 1988.
Soap operas have been both the training ground (Kevin Bacon, Morgan Freeman, Kathleen Turner, Meg Ryan, Christopher Reeve, Tommy Lee Jones, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Susan Sarandon) and the final resting place ( Ruth Warrick, Anna Lee) for many a great actor. When Guiding Light went off the air a few weeks ago I'm sure a few people were surprised at some of the now famous stars who were doctors, lawyers, troublemakers and hearthrobs back in the day. Judith Light turned in some of the best dramatic performances I've ever seen and did it day after day long before she was known for that stupid comedy. And while most people know Nathan Fillion from Firefly, I remember him sleeping with his mother's same age mortal enemy.
Which brings me to Hans Gudegast. Mom was a fan of 12 O'Clock High, Combat, and my personal favorites, the Rat Patrol and Mission Impossible, where he played a not so nice German in all of them. For the last 29 years he has starred as Victor Newman on the Young and the Restless and due to the economy, irrelevant stories and corporate stupidity, the powers that be have decided that six months into a three year contract and having not violated any of the terms, his contract is no longer valid and want him to take a pay cut. Like he dropped off the turnip truck this morning.
Sony is willing to cut off its nose to spite its face. The genre is dying and they are eagerly tapping the last nail in the coffin. The soap heyday has come and gone. Luke and Laura are no more, Erica has married everyone in town and Viki doesn't have any more marbles to lose. Their children have become whiny adults and nobody wants to watch them. Instead of returning to what made soaps so entertaining, they shove hugely uninteresting characters down the viewer's throats in a vain effort to capture today's ADD (tweet tweet) youth market. And the slide into
oblivion will continue because once you don't care about the characters the story becomes moot.
Soap operas have killed off many a favorite character (or tried recasting), but Victor is one of the biggies. You don't get rid of the star of the number one soap opera since 1988 and expect to stay in the top spot without a character that people love to hate. Or hate to love. Like most corporate decisions nowadays, it's about the current bottom line with no thought to the future or props to the past. They think that by cutting salaries and benefits for the workers that the executives will continue to enjoy their outrageous bonuses and the piper will continue to play. Unfortunately, history has shown that if you don't pay the piper, the music stops and the greedy are usually left without a chair.