HOLLYWOOD—CBS has the number one rated soap opera in the nation. For almost two decades “The Young & the Restless” has been winning at the ratings game. What seems to give this show an edge, is the idea that characters and actors on the soap are solid and unlike many other daytime shows, they don’t leave the show that often. This aspect helps the audience to bond with characters and actors on the series.
Photo courtesy of www.michaelmuhney.com
So what a surprise and a shock to the audience to hear that actor Chris Engen, who portrayed the character of Adam Wilson, was quitting and leaving the show. Engen had been struggling with a major storyline for months and his character was walking on the edge of morality on a constant basis. However, it’s been reported that “Y&R” was looking into a ‘same sex’ romance storyline for Engen’s character Adam. Engen is a self- proclaimed devout Catholic and this storyline apparently ran counter to his faith and beliefs.
Last week fans went into an uproar when they heard that this was his reason for leaving. Soaps have long been a vehicle for social issues. Rape, abortion and incest have all been tackled by the soaps. However, in the last two years CBS’s “As The World Turns” chose to reveal that a major beloved character, Luke Snyder was a homosexual. Luke fell in love with his friend Noah and the show has been stunned by the positive reaction from fans and critics alike. The characters have a fan base of hundreds of thousands who call themselves “Nuke” fans. A combination of the two characters’ names.
Engen however hasn’t faired so well on the opposite side of the coin. The controversy has turned against him very badly. Which made him feel that it was in his best interest to make a statement on his MySpace page to fans. In answering suggestions and accusations that he had repeatedly called in sick and refused to play a gay storyline, Engen said in part, “I was not comfortable with many of the challenges they presented before me, but I put my head down and did my job. The fact that I had an opportunity as ostensibly attractive and lucrative as this, particularly in difficult economic times and with so many talented actors and industry professionals out of work was, of course, more than reason enough to be grateful. I considered it part of the challenge and within my job description to do the best with whatever storyline was being written for me, as I was very fortunate to be getting a storyline in the first place. I understand that the writers have a very difficult task. They accomplish more in a week than what other shows do in over a month. I never stormed off the set, nor have I stormed off any set in my 18 years of struggle as an artist. I felt generally unhappy about my contribution to the show, and had greater and greater difficulty making any sense of the challenges they were asking me to face. If that makes me a limited actor, then so be it. I was allowed ONE meeting with Maria Bell, and I called in sick ONCE in my 16 months on the show. In the end, I didn’t feel that decisions were being made in my best interests, personally or professionally.”
But fans and journalists in the daytime television industry are split on how they feel about this matter. In response to Engen’s message to his fans, writer Todd Brown wrote for Genoa City News, a blog that fans can put opinions about their favorite soap “The Young & the Restless,” which said in part, “Chris Engen is a self-obsessed, pretentious diva. And he stinks as an actor anyway, I’ve said so all along. He has all the personality of burnt toast. I couldn’t be more thrilled that he’s leaving, and I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for him to star in any Steven Spielberg movies anytime soon. Or ever. He was barely competent to be on a soap opera; he’ll be lucky after this to get a part in a Burger King commercial. Good riddance to him, I say.”
“The Young & the Restless” immediately put out a casting call for a replacement for Engen, since the role of Adam is integral right now. They managed to land an amazing replacement in primetime television actor Michael Muhney, who is best known for his role on “Veronica Mars.” Muhney has embraced his new job and started working last week on the hit soap. On his official Web site, Muhney said, “My first day on the set was crazy and fun and quite a wild ride. I had to hit the ground running at full speed. I think I need a new pair of shoes, but in these economic times I'll just have my shoes resoled. I'm honored to be a part of such an iconic piece of work and I can't wait to sink my teeth into this thing."
Muhney is known for his professionalism and being fan friendly. So show insiders feel he’s a great fit for the show and they hope to have a smooth transition. Muhney’s first airdate is June 25.