The Young and the Restless is grappling with yet another high-profile contract stalemate. After weeks of tense negotiations, talks between show executives and Emmy winner Eric Braeden (Victor Newman) have broken off. As a result, the top-rated CBS soap has written out the iconic patriarch of the Newman family.
TVGuide Canada's Nelson Branco reports that the impasse with Braeden is nearly identical to that with Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman) earlier this year: the show wants the actors to accept a salary cut in the middle of an already-negotiated contract.
"Actors like Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott, who this past summer was written out after she balked over the same issue, are furious; not over the fact that they are being asked to take pay cuts, but that they are being expected to re-negotiate their contracts during their 13-week cycles," Branco reports. "It is important to note that they are willing to take pay cuts but at the end of their contracts."
Earlier this month, The Young and the Restless put out a casting call for the role of "Tucker," described as a 40-to-50-something billionaire with a dark side. The casting call, coupled with reports that talks between Braeden and show brass were not going well, set off a firestorm of speculation. Reports surfaced that Tucker was the show's covert attempt to replace Braeden.
The show issued a prompt statement to deny claims that a new Victor might soon be popping up in Genoa City.
"This not a scare tactic. Tucker is a new character, not a Victor Newman recast," a show spokesperson said.
While the show also notes that it has not yet cast the role of Tucker, Soap Central has learned that Y&R execs want a "big name" star for the role. Tucker is slated to debut sometime in November.
Meanwhile, on what could turn out to be his final day on the set, an emotional Braeden reportedly stunned his castmates by announcing his departure.
According to Branco, Braeden informed "the cast [that] he may not come back and thanked the cast and crew for decades of memories."
Whether or not Braeden ever returns remains very much in doubt, and even the actor's rep isn't offering much light at the end of the tunnel.
"Eric is in talks with the show," the rep tells Soap Central. "He may or may not be back."
Technically, Braeden's contact isn't up until next year. The show exercised its option at the end of Braeden's most recent 13-week cycle to write out Victor. For now, Victor and Nikki will leave Genoa City for vacation. It is unclear when -- or if -- Nikki will return.
Eric Braeden made his debut on The Young and the Restless in 1980. In 1998, the actor earned his very first Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Lead Actor field. He has five additional nominations in the category. In 2007, Braeden was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
FOLLOW UP Eric Braeden speaks out on his situation at Y&R.