Forever Young

March 2, 1995
Entertainment Weekly

After 22 years, life on the set of daytime's no. 1 drama remains as restless as ever.

[only the part about Michael transcribed]

Inside the darkened CBS Los Angeles studio at 9 a.m., safe from the roars of the neighboring Price Is Right, the actors of The Young and the Restless begin to emerge from their dressing rooms, skin and clothes both wrinkle-free. They've been here since 6:30, getting glamorized in the makeup room (except for the car-accident victims, who have been blackened and bruised) and having their hair spun into perfection. Finally, the day's 100 plus--page script in hand, first-up actors Michael Tylo and Brenda Epperson clamber onto the airplane set that the carpenters have been constructing since 2:30 a.m.

Tylo and Epperson, who play the unhappily married Blade and Ashley, have been thrown a twist today: Blade isn't actually Blade, who's locked in a dungeon somewhere, but Rick, his evil twin brother, who's passing for Blade. Another complication: Epperson's seven-month pregnancy, which, given her character's uncertain romantic state, has not been worked into the story line. So in most scenes Epperson must sit or, as she says, "If there's a plant in the scene, I'll be behind it."

At the moment, she's scrunched up in her seat, hands folded over her ever-burgeoning lap, gazing out the airplane window at the living room set next door. Blade/Rick stares ahead, as his voice-over fills the darkened studio: "The biggest test is going to be making love to you without you realizing I'm a different man.... One slip and it's all over."

To spend a day on the set of The Young and the Restless is to learn to appreciate a good melodrama. Each day on this soap opera--which has been on the air for 22 years--brings enough trauma and heartache to make a newcomer's head spin. But somehow it all comes together: CBS' Y&R has been the No. 1 daytime drama for almost six years, averaging nearly 9 million viewers. Cynics argue that Y&R stays ahead because of its lunch hour (12:30--1:30 Eastern) time slot. Fans point to the show's aggressive hipness: While Y&R and its ABC competitor, All My Children, both shoot for a wide demographic, it's Y&R that's gotten attention for tackling downer issues like date rape and drug addiction with just enough Melrose Place camp value to enhance the drool factor.

And then, of course, there are the high production values, and all the attention paid to clothing those beautiful bods (the show's wardrobe holds more than 1,900 nightgowns). Y&R is where a number of rising stars learned how to take off their shirts: Tom Selleck went on to rescue beautiful babes on Magnum, P.I., and David Hasselhoff now rescues the same species on Baywatch.

Two hours after the airplane scene, however, Tylo's bod is not up to snuff. He's lying prone on the floor, where he's collapsed from a leg cramp ("I don't see that in the script," a cameraman mutters in confusion). Suddenly, a beautiful woman--gold and purple silken robes flying--swoops in and bends down by Tylo's side. "Oh, that's Hunter, Michael's wife," someone whispers. "She's a Moroccan princess on The Bold and the Beautiful across the hall." Unfortunately, her ministrations do little to comfort Tylo, and he drags himself to a neighboring set's couch.

In the darkened console booth, executive producer Edward Scott is more concerned with Tylo's Hawaiian-print shirt. "If I never see that shirt again, it will be too soon," he says to the wardrober. "Make him look more masculine." Scott's attention to the actors' appearance can be blunt: He once called Melody Thomas Scott (who plays Nikki Newman Abbott) from the booth and said, "I have two words for you: Lose weight." "She started to cry," he admits. He's now married to her.