The move comes just before WGA negotiations, as well as the series celebrating its 50th anniversary
According to one insider, Griffith said eliminating the breakdown writing staff — those writers responsible for mapping out story lines across multiple episodes — is a cost-cutting move, and that he will take on the task of writing breakdowns himself.
“The timing of the firings is suspect given that WGA negotiations were coming up and the show is celebrating a major milestone with its 50th anniversary,” the individual said. “Even more brutal is that four of the five writers of the breakdown staff are all women, one of them being African-American, who was hired with the intended purpose of expanding diversity behind the scenes per CBS’ directive.”
According to the same individual, these firings come on the heels of Sony Pictures Television giving Griffith’s co-executive producer Anthony Morina his walking papers.
Sony Pictures Television, which produces the soaps, and CBS, which airs them, both declined comment. A spokesperson for “Young and the Restless” didn’t respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
One show insider also told TheWrap, “There was some restructuring of the writers staff to streamline the creative process.” When asked if the decision was a directive of Sony or Griffith’s own move, the individual said: “It was based on what made sense for the show creatively and mirrors the structure at other soaps.”
Primetime dramas, which produce anywhere from 13-22 episodes per year, typically operate with a head writer, co-head writer and script writers (who also write breakdowns). But due to the grueling volume of producing five episodes a week for almost an entire yearly cycle, soaps also employ a number of breakdown writers.
Production sources at two other remaining daytime dramas, ABC’s “General Hospital” and Peacock’s “Days of Our Lives,” told TheWrap that their shows still have breakdown writers alongside script writers.
Cost-cutting measures are no surprise throughout the industry — especially daytime soaps which were hard hit first by the ’90s O.J. Simpson trial, then the WGA strike in the early 2000s. Apparently, even CBS’s “The Young and the Restless,” which has been the No. 1 ranked daytime drama for 35 years, isn’t immune. “Days of our Lives,” which is also produced by Sony Pictures Television and Corday Productions, made the jump from airing daily on NBC Monday through Friday to streaming only on Peacock this past fall.
“We understand the industry is going through transition but it’s a slap in the face for five hardworking writers to be fired so the co-EP and head writer can write the breakdowns and line his pockets with more residuals,” a writer from another daytime drama told TheWrap. “Soap writers have long felt shafted by WGA and this doesn’t help matters.”
“The Young and the Restless” breakdown staff was jettisoned before the show reaches its 50th anniversary this month where past fan favorites such as Michael Damian, Patty Weaver, Tricia Cast, Barbara Crampton and Veronica Redd will reprise their roles on the series leading up to the big day on March 26.
A previous version of this post mistakenly stated there were only two other remaining daytime dramas when there are actually four total with “Days of Our Lives” and “Bold and the Beautiful.” TheWrap regrets the error.