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Q&A Paul Rauch of The Young and the Restless


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Q&A: Paul Rauch of 'The Young and the Restless'

Executive producer celebrates 50 years in the business

By Deanna Barnert

Special to MSN TV

"The Young and the Restless" has been No. 1 since 1988, but these days it's absolutely hopping! In this era of budget cuts and show cancellations, executive producer Paul Rauch and head writer Maria Arena Bell have managed to bring the magic back to Genoa City. "The Young and the Restless" airs weekdays on CBS.

Rauch, who once had his heart set on being an actor, became a daytime icon of another kind instead. He was there in the 1960s when "Guiding Light" went from 15 to 30 minutes and then broke ground in 1972 by taking "Another World" to an hour. He kept "AW" at the top of the game until 1984, while also creating his own show, "Texas," in 1980, and then continued to shape daytime with modernized production and Wild West storytelling as head honcho at "One Life to Live," "Santa Barbara" and "Guiding ." He even did stints as a CBS exec, serving as VP of Daytime Programs and Programs-East Coast in the early 1970s, and more recently took his knowledge abroad to show to Russia and Poland how serial drama is done.

Now, Rauch is celebrating his 50th year in daytime at the top, which is just where he likes to be. He sat down to talk about life at "Y&R," the state of the industry and, though he doesn't like talking story lines, even dropped a bit of a tease on the upcoming masquerade ball.

MSN TV: You're known for updating and saving shows, so what attracted you to working on the longstanding No. 1 soap?

Paul Rauch: I always admired the way the show was shot. And with the [budget cuts] being made in daytime, the challenge is to tell a good story, basically without limits. Shoot it well and make it look as good and expensive as it's always looked, without apparently sacrificing production or storytelling values. It's trying to keep up what you've established. Take a look at "Guiding Light." I produced that show until 2002, and then it just went down fast. It was not only that the story got to be ridiculous, but the production was shocking.

What is the secret to pulling off a big production event like the masquerade blowup without blowing the budget?

In this case, we see an explosion at the end of the show and then the people trapped or buried in the debris. We see the aftermath. We don't see people flying through space, which isn't a practical thing to do and wouldn't accomplish or mean anything, anyway. It's still difficult to shoot. We had a couple extra cameras to do it, but the most important thing is that we do it efficiently and not take all day and night doing it. Time is money.

It's common knowledge that those big cast scenes eat up time, even without any explosions. How do you keep things moving?

It depends on whether you have problem personalities, but this is probably the most professional group I've ever worked with. When we cast, we cast people who are actors. In the '90s, all the shows were suddenly eager to load their casts up with young, beautiful , irrespective of whether they had chops or not. So you had a floor filled with beautiful people who couldn't carry off performances well. That was a challenge. How do you give a note to an actor who doesn't understand what the note is? Here, I can work in shorthand. The actors know what to do, understand what the note is and make adjustments.

So how did the big event turn out?

I just saw the sweetened version and it's pretty impressive. The ball is exciting. I think the audience is going to enjoy it and its part of the denouement of the Adam story.

We take the one-hour format for granted now, but soaps started out at 15 minutes. When you suggested taking "Another World" to an hour, did Proctor & Gamble and NBC think you were nuts?

I thought I was nuts! It scared the hell out of me. It was 1974 and we were doing a story with Steve and Alice. Harding Lemay was writing it and we were talking about how difficult it was to fit everything into 30 minutes and yet allow the scenes to mature so they were more than just headlines. When we decided to get Steve and Alice married in June, I proposed that we take over the time period after us for the wedding. It had never been done before, but the ratings doubled in that second half hour. We had a big meeting, right after that, and said we thought we could sustain a 60-minute show, 250 days a year. They said yes, so in January of '75, we premiered the first hour of daytime. It was an instant success.

A few years later, you tried the 90-minute format. Why didn't that work?

Fred Silverman, who was running NBC, said we should do that. It was too much to write and too much for the audience to have to hang on for 90 minutes of their day, so we contracted back to 60 minutes.

Do you think that sort of out-of-the-box thinking is what it will take to "save" daytime?

It's now a business of hanging on, more than anything else. Though I have to say, this show is not hanging on: We're building on our ratings! We're considerably up over last year in this last week [March 15-19] in the 18-49 category.

Why do you think that is?

Because Maria is making great story and the show looks great on the air. That's basic, right? It is kind of about magic, but it's not magic, because the people know what they're doing.

Do you and Maria hash out stories together?

Maria's got a great team. We talk, coordinate, collaborate and each know what the other's doing, but I don't get involved with story on this show. I execute the show.

Which means you do what, in a typical day?

I'm in the control room all day, sitting in the [production] booth. I'm watching the show, talking to the directors, changing shots, talking to actors and maybe working on performance with them. I'm on top of the show, from beginning to end, every day. It's that coverage between Maria and myself that's making it work. Take a look at the show: It's gorgeous and it's a hot show!

As a man who runs this huge team, do you have to be very organized?

No. I just expect the best from people. I don't accept any less, because we have to put the product on the air and I want it to be the best. I can't live with a compromised performance or a compromised job by a cameraman. It's got to be right. This is a terrific show, in that regard. Everybody does their job.

At "Another World," you infamously fired the actors who played super couple Steve and Alice, George Reinholt and Jacqui Courtney. Where do you draw the line with diva behavior?

That was an unusual situation. This guy had been a problem for a very long time and, on the fateful day, he threw an iron folding chair at a director and hit him in the head. So I fired him on the spot. You always have difficult people. Things get insane. The challenge is to make it work for everybody, not to fire somebody. It's not to exercise power or control: It's to get the thing done and do it well.

Would you like to get an Emmy for the show this year?

I'd love it! I thought we should have gotten one last year, but we didn't even get a nomination. I've only gotten one Best Show Emmy in all the years I've been doing this and then I got one Emmy for producing a movie for Showtime. I'm more than ready for another one!

You've been part of a few daytime dream teams, working with Lemay at "AW" and now Maria. What's the secret to a great partnership?

It's a dream to work with Maria. She's so inventive. There's nothing she doesn't know about this show, its history and its characters, all the way back. She understands the importance of the roots of the show and making sure they're tended to. She wants to get back to the basics and has brought characters back to accommodate that. She's clever, creative and knows what she wants. It's a blessing to be able to work with great people. I had that kind of relationship for a while with Harding and a guy you've probably never heard of, Michael Schnessel, on "One Life to Live."

Soap fans are known to be very vocal about their views. Do you listen?

I've been paying attention to what fans have said for a long time, from fan mail and focus groups, but there are always naysayers in daytime and they're the most vivid, loudest people I've ever heard. They can also be the nastiest. You have to take what they say and run it through a filter. Ultimately, a head and a producer need to evolve story they think is going to work for the audience based on the audience's dedication to the characters. You have to use your instincts. It can't be a reaction.

If I'd told you 50 years ago, you'd be a soap icon, but not as an actor, how would you have responded?

I would have thought, "I'd like to try this and that." I did get to try a few movies and I have done stuff out of the country, but I love daytime. I love the challenge of doing a different show every day. I've got 33 actors on contract and I have to deal with everybody and their needs and their performances. I have a bunch of directors and a big crew. It's a great bunch. I love coming to work, everyday.

Source: MSN

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I always admired the way the show was shot. And with the [budget cuts] being made in daytime, the challenge is to tell a good story, basically without limits. Shoot it well and make it look as good and expensive as it's always looked, without apparently sacrificing production or storytelling values. It's trying to keep up what you've established. Take a look at "Guiding Light." I produced that show until 2002, and then it just went down fast. It was not only that the story got to be ridiculous, but the production was shocking.

Shut up, Paul Rauch. <_<

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Take a look at "Guiding Light." I produced that show until 2002, and then it just went down fast. It was not only that the story got to be ridiculous, but the production was shocking.

:rolleyes:

What an egotistical ass. Like GL just crumbled without him. The show was still good for another 2 years, it was Wheeler that ruined it.

It's a dream to work with Maria. She's so inventive

:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

but I don't get involved with story on this show.

:lol::lol::lol:

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Sure, Paul don't get involve with the storyline. Soon as he came on the black only being shown once every two months to be supportive of the one person that's the weakest Link.

So when ya'll think that Paul & his Klansmen going to tell KSJ in the parking lot that he's fired. Or would they start with the guy that plays Devon.

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Sure, Paul don't get involve with the storyline. Soon as he came on the black only being shown once ever two months to be supportive of the one person that's the weakest Link.

So we ya'll think that Paul & his Klansmen going to tell KSJ in the parking lot that he's fired. Or would they start with the guy that plays Devon.

Exactly. Malcolm has hand only 13 appearances in three full months that he's been there (Especially after that mind-blowing audition :wacko: ). And Devon only had 5 from January to March.

"No involvement" my a**.

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Sure, Paul don't get involve with the storyline. Soon as he came on the black only being shown once ever two months to be supportive of the one person that's the weakest Link.

So we ya'll think that Paul & his Klansmen going to tell KSJ in the parking lot that he's fired. Or would they start with the guy that plays Devon.

When he gets Alfonso Ribeiro to sign a contract.

cast_crew_alfonso_ribeiro.jpg

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Take a look at "Guiding Light." I produced that show until 2002, and then it just went down fast. It was not only that the story got to be ridiculous, but the production was shocking.

True. Looking back I wish he had stayed longer, maybe I would have enjoyed the year of 2003 better.

Didn't he leave GL in 2002 because he was retiring?

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Exactly. Malcolm has hand only 13 appearances in three full months that he's been there (Especially after that mind-blowing audition :wacko: ). And Devon only had 5 from January to March.

"No involvement" my a**.

And yet viewers continue to DEFEND & ENDORSE the blatant racism/homophobia/sexism.

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