Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: DOES VICTORIA ROWELL HAVE A CASE AGAINST Y&R?


Updated 6/28/16: The lawsuit is back on!

Updated 11/12/15: A judge has dismissed Victoria Rowell's retaliation suit against The Young & the Restless, CBS and Sony.

Here is what I wrote for Entertainment Weekly when she first filed....

Originally published 2/25/15

On February 11, 2015, actress Victoria Rowell announced that she was suing her former employer, The Young & the Restless, and its parent company, Sony. Rowell contends that the show won’t rehire her to play the role of Drucilla, a part that Rowell vacated in 2007, due to Rowell’s outspoken activism regarding Y&R’s dearth of African-American actors, writers and directors. The suit also alleges that Rowell faced racial discrimination during her 14 years of starring on the soap, and that she was never offered the opportunity to either write or direct the program. Rowell is seeking back pay, and a return to playing Dru.

CBS and Sony have denied all charges, insisted that the lawsuit has no merit, and that Rowell is attempting to “rewrite history.”

Does the actress have a case?

It would seem that the easiest charge to dispute would be Rowell’s claim that racial discrimination kept her from getting the chance to write or direct her show.

True, some actors, like Days of Our Lives Alison Sweeney have directed. Pamela Long went from an actor on Texas to its Headwriter, before assuming the same position at Guiding Light and One Life to Live, among others. And Ellen Wheeler and Christopher Goutman were able to transition from actors to directors to Executive Producers of GL and As the World Turns, respectively. But that’s literally only a handful of people among the tens of thousands of actors who’ve passed through the daytime drama world. It can hardly be considered a common opportunity offered to all, save Rowell.

When I interviewed her for my book, “Soap Opera 451: A TimeCapsule of Daytime Drama’s Greatest Moments,” Rowell asserted, “You don’t stay in a storyline if you’re not selling a story, and if you’re not selling the story, you don’t stay employed.  At the end of the day, this is about keeping a show on the air, and a show that’s selling soap.  You’re selling products.  I understood the business dynamics.”

This is presumably why Rowell’s lawsuit also charges that, by refusing her entreaties to reprise Dru, CBS and Sony are undermining their own financial interests for purely personal reasons. Rowell believes that she is a fan favorite whose return will help raise Y&R’s ratings.

Rowell, however, is not the first actor in daytime history to be fired (or, in her case, not be rehired) despite vocal fan support and to the show’s apparent detriment.

To get the inside story on examples from DOOL, GH, ATWT and more, go to: http://community.ew.com/2015/02/24/victoria-rowell-lawsuit-the-young-and-the-restless/

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