Monday, September 24, 2012
Why so many big stars are really leaving daytime.
When fan favorite ReneeJones(ex-Lexie, DAYS) announced her plans to leave the soap she's called home since the '80s, she said it was a matter of timing. She hadn't been working much and it just felt like a change was in order. "It's been wonderful," she noted in April. "But it's almost like a parent with all these children when you think of the show having all these actors; everyone can't have a front-burner storyline all the time.... When I was younger and getting into the business, joy was booking a job. You work so hard for that, so to be at this point now, where I don't have to work, I feel so blessed and I have to open up my arms and just embrace this opportunity. and I'm excited about it. I've had people say, 'Are you going through a mid-life crisis?' My new thing is. I call it a mid-life awakening. That's what it is for me, an awakening that I'm not going to be here forever, so let me make good use of whatever time I have on this Earth."
Since Jones's exit, the list of big names leaving soaps is staggering: Peter Reckell (Bo, DAYS) and Ronn Moss (ex-Ridge, B&B) have wrapped filming; Steve Burton (Jason, GH) and Susan Flannery (Stephanie, B&B) are next to go.
What has happened to make them want to leave the steadiest employment in the biz? "They've done it," says talent manager Michael Bruno. who reps Robin Mattson (Heather, GH), Lauren Koslow (Kate, DAYS) and Jennifer Gareis (Donna. B&B), to name a few. "They've gotten the money. the awards, the accolades, and they see that it's coming to the end of the road."
There's also the money factor. "For some, it's the first time that they have had to take cuts; they were always 'untouchable'; the cuts came from everyone else," Bruno explains. "Another thing to point out is that these people haven't been out in the last six or seven years looking for a job, so they're coming from a different perspec tive of, 'If you don't want to use me or you don't want to pay me what I'm worth, I'm going to leave.' And I could be wrong about this, but I think what some do is, 'I'll leave and in four months from now, I'll call the show or I'll call YOUNG AND RESTLESS and they'll take me.' With the soap people I have who were big stars who lost their jobs, their attitude completely changed from the day they lost their job to six months, a year, five years later, like, 'Wow. I may have had a good thing and not realized it.' "
Observes Emmy-winner Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), "The contract thing is very difficult because you have a feeling of what you're worth, while their job is to tell you, 'No, you're not.' I've never gone for break the bank. I never have, so my negotiations are always very quiet."
The climate has also changed dramatically over the past decade in terms of pay days. "A couple of years ago, a very big actor asked me about the biggest salaries at a rival network." recalls Bruno. "Basically, what he was saying to me without saying it is, 'I want to know if I should leave here and go next door.' I told him that they wanted everyone under $3,000 an episode and some people under $2,000 and he was in complete shock. He kept saying to me, 'No, I mean the big people.' And I said there were people at maybe $5,000 or $6,000 an episode, but that was a small number of people out of three casts. There are some people who don't know the reality of what people make and what the situation is on another show."
"The money just isn't there anymore," agrees one veteran star, who is still working on a soap. "My first soap gig, I was making over $600,000, and these new people are lucky if they get up to $200,000. But still, that's a lot of money." Adds Bruno, "I think in the '90s, there were a fourth of the people who were close to $800,000 or $1.1 million. Now, if you look at those numbers, people are averaging $200,000 to maybe $300,000. I think the salaries that are closer to a million are four or five people, if that, of everybody."
For some, though, leaving isn't about the money at all. "Knowing Steve [Burton] as long as I have, one of the words that I've always attributed to him is loyal," says GH co-star Bradford Anderson (Spinelli). "Nashville is where it feels right for his family to be and he wanted that so bad, but he's so loyal to the work that he's done, the people that he works with, the fans that cheer for him, that he's been kind of walking that line for a while.
And then all of a sudden, it just became clear that it was time. I can't imagine [the decision to leave] was something he took lightly. As important as he is to us, I can certainly say that we -- all the viewers, everyone at work — are equally as important to him. That was all in his scope when he was making the decision. He doesn't take anything lightly." Peter Reckell also cited family as his reason for splitting Salem: "My daughter [Loden] is 41/2 years old and I've missed a lot over the past four years," he told Digest. "I missed her first step, first karate class. her swim lessons. I've missed so much that I really want to be part of, and as much as I enjoy it here, there are so many other things I want to do with my daughter, with myself, with my wife and I am very, very lucky to be in the position where I can go off and do all these things. There is a list of things that I want to do that 1 can't do if I'm here supporting other people's storylines. I want to go do those things while I can."
"DAYS just got rid of a lot of popular people and their numbers are higher than they've been all year." Bottom line, says Bruno, with all the cancellations, actors are looking at daytime differently. "I think. psychologically, people can see the finish line of it all coming to an end, where we need to worry when their top performers opt out? Not according to one insider, who notes that major cast changes don't do much to move the overall ratings. "It's been proven time and time again: People coming back to a show, people leaving a show, the numbers stay the same. So why not get rid of the expensive people? It's not going to budge the ratings," says the setsider. never really could before, and I think that people kind of re-evaluate differently," he reflects. "Some people think. 'It's going to be another two-and-a-half, three years, I'll stay,' while others can really see the end of the book now. Besides the money and besides ego, they feel the time is right to take a leap and see if there's something out there. There's an excitement to that, as well."