A SOAP OPERA CENTRAL SPECIAL REPORT: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
If you missed any of the previous parts of our special report, please click here.
The Exit of Top-Billed Stars
2002 saw the exodus of a plethora of big name talent from nearly all of the soaps.
All My Children lost two of its heartthrobs when Cameron Mathison (ex-Ryan Lavery) and Josh Duhamel (ex-Leo duPres) exited the show. Duhamel was the winner of the Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category this past May. By year's end, Kelly Ripa (ex-Hayley Vaughan) and on-and-off-screen husband Mark Consuelos (ex-Mateo Santos) would also depart Pine Valley. Ripa will remain with the show in a recurring capacity. Her former three male colleagues have opted to pursue careers in feature films and primetime television.
Less than a year after the cancellation of NBC's Another World, fans of the 30-year-old soap found solace when CBS's As The World Turns incorporated some of the show's characters into its canvas. One by one, however, the characters were whittled away until just Tom Eplin's Jake McKinnon was left. In May, however, Jake was killed off, leaving Another World fans - and ATWT fans - in shock. For Another World fans, Jake's death was like a slap in the face, since they had already had to endure the axing of their long-time favorite soap. Hunter Tylo's (ex-Taylor Forrester) exit from The Bold and the Beautiful also came as a shock to many soap fans. The actress was by far one of the most popular performers on the show and Tylo was instantly recognizable as a B&B star even to soap fans who didn't watch the show. Moreover, the show's decision to kill off her character still has some B&B viewers outraged.
Days of our Lives brought back fan-favorite Lisa Rinna (Billie Reed) in July only to have the character quickly written into a dead end storyline. Rinna was subsequently written out of the show after less than six months back on the job. DAYS also saw the exits of Austin Peck (ex-Austin Reed) and teen heartthrob Jay Kenneth Johnson (Phillip Kiriakis).
One of daytime's most recognizable faces, General Hospital's Genie Francis (ex-Laura Spencer) vacated the role she'd held off and on for 25 years. Francis would later cite differences with the creative direction of the show and a desire to spend time with her husband - actor Jonathan Frakes, who temporarily relocated to Europe to work on a film project - as the reasons for her departure. The door was left open for Francis to return at a future date.
In one of the biggest casting coups in some time, Guiding Light landed former Dynasty diva Joan Collins to play the part of Alexandra Spaulding. Collins sank her teeth into the part, but her addition to the cast failed to make a dent in GL's sagging ratings. In November, Collins announced that a scheduling conflict would force her to leave the soap. GL execs asked former Alexandra Marj Dusay to reprise the role.
One Life to Live viewers literally watched Erin Torpey (ex-Jessica Buchanan) grow up before their eyes. The young actress started her life in Llanview at the tender age of eight. Thirteen years later, Torpey opted to leave the soap to take some time out for herself.
Fledgling soap Passions saw the exit of many of its long-time cast members. The hunk factor took a downward turn when original cast member Travis Schuldt (ex-Ethan Crane) and Donn Swaby (ex-Chad Harris) announced plans to leave the show. Natalie Zea (ex-Gwen Hotchkiss) also opted not to renew her contract while Robin Strasser's Hecuba was again written off the canvas. Jade Harlow (Jessica Bennett) and Bruce Michael Hall (ex-Reese Durkee) were downgraded from contract players to recurring roles. The soap also lost Josh Ryan Evans (ex-Timmy) when the actor died at the age of 20 due to complications from a pre-existing heart condition.
Daytime Emmy winner Shemar Moore (ex-Malcolm Winters) finally made the decision to leave The Young and the Restless after having signed several contract extensions. The actor, who had appeared in a handful of feature films, said it was difficult for him to leave the show that had served as a stepping stone for his career. Moore's character was presumed dead, leaving the door open for a possible return - either by Moore or a new performer. Another Emmy winner, David Tom (ex-Billy Abbott) left Genoa City to hopefully follow in the path trailblazed by Moore.
While the exits of the aforementioned stars have had varying impacts on their respective shows, the fact that this year had so many departures may signal that the entertainment world may finally have gotten past its belief that soap actors are "second-rate" performers.
» Click here to read coverage of Moore's exit from Y&R.
» Click here to read coverage of Eplin's exit from ATWT.
» Click here to read coverage of Mathison's exit from AMC.
» Click here to read coverage of Francis' exit from GH.
» Click here to read coverage of Tylo's announcement that she'd be leaving B&B.
» Click here to read coverage of Duhamel's exit from AMC.
» Click here to read coverage of Rinna's exit from DAYS.
» Click here to read coverage of Torpey's exit from OLTL.
» Click here to read coverage of Joan Collin's exit from GL.
» Click here to read coverage of of B&B and DAYS' swap.
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