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Article: Damn That Shemar Moore!


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I think the article speaks for itself, and yes Malcolm's exit was pretty bad, the collapsing bridge in Africa and all.

DAMN THAT SHEMAR MOORE!

by Tom Smith, September 10, 2002

That’s one possible message we can take away from a recent two-part Michael Logan column, in which he uncovers a stunning possible explanation for CBS recent daytime lineup. As we know, top-rated drama The Young and the Restless has lost nearly a million viewers this year. But, according to an internal research study conducted by CBS Daytime President Lucy Johnson’s department, most of those viewers are African-American. Furthermore, the majority of the lost viewers dropped out around the time Shemar Moore (Malcolm) left the show. It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots. However, Logan’s obtaining of the report, which was not supposed to be released to the media, left execs scrambling for answers.

"There is no empirical evidence that Shemar’s exit caused the downfall", Johnson told Logan in the 8/3-9/2002 issue of TV Guide. Johnson insists the decline began well before Malcolm’s exit. Y&R’s executive producer David Shaughnessy says that the recent expansion of Y&R’s African-American cast members "is not in direct response to the [CBS research]. We’re trying to get the show back on track, so we’re bolstering everything." Johnson also says that Y&R’s recent cast changes are "not a knee-jerk reaction to the ratings report." Johnson does say that the report is "a big wake-up call for our daytime lineup."

If Shemar Moore is really the reason for CBS daytime’s ratings free-for-all, God help us all. I repeat, GOD HELP US ALL. One mediocre actor with a fine chest leaves one show, and the entire lineup dissolves. Seriously, how can Guiding Light stop Shemar Moore from leaving The Young and the Restless? They can’t, but the research report put together by Johnson’s team comes to the conclusion that one popular actor can affect a daytime lineup. So why should the staff of B&B, ATWT, and GL bother to put on a good show? Just lure Moore back, sign him to a ten-year contract, and watch everyone’s ratings climb.

Now, I doubt Moore caused this commotion by himself. More likely, Malcolm’s horribly lame exit was the straw that broke the viewers collective back. While the African-American characters on Y&R are pretty well-acted and well-drawn, their plotlines have left something to be desired. For years, the majority of African-American plotlines have been Olivia and Dru having the hots for the same man, or Malcolm and Neil having the hots for the same woman. Neil’s alcoholism story has been brilliant in spots, but has suffered from TPTB’s inattention. Indeed, a major problem at Y&R is having too many plots and subplots going, and then forgetting about them for long stretches.

What’s disheartening about this is that whether it’s Moore or Y&R’s own writing woes that caused this mess, the rest of the lineup is still being affected unfairly. One could argue that the other 3/4’ths of CBS lineup have made their own errors this year, but the drop in their ratings can be traced to the period that Y&R dropped off dramatically. Is this why the improved GL couldn’t get ahead this Summer? So long to Y&R, so long to CBS? Were viewers just leaving the TV on after Y&R, and not really paying attention to the shows that followed? Or did the state of those shows just make it easier for exiting Y&R viewers to drop CBS entirely? Logan’s column ultimately raises more questions than it answers.

One of those questions is what does Lucy Johnson mean when she calls the report "a big wake-up call for our daytime lineup"? She certainly doesn’t mean more African-American faces. Commenting on The Bold and the Beautiful, in the 8/10-16/02 issue, Johnson says that Executive Producer/Head Writer Bradley Bell "has to serve his own voice, and I respect that". Guiding Light has an entire black family, the Boudreaux, but only Mel is on full time. Proctor and Gamble Productions head honcho Mickey Alice Dwyer-Dobbin says that "I’m trying to tell good, emotional stories that my entire audience can relate to. I’ve not been asked to do things differently, not by the network, the audience, or the focus groups."

Folks, it’s not my intention to play the race card here. I don’t want a quota system, and B&B really is my favorite soap right now. But, isn’t it amazing that a good number of daytime viewers are black, yet blacks are so underrepresented on-screen? Logan notes that CBS high black viewership has contributed mightily to keeping CBS tops in total daytime viewers. Yet, whenever the subject is broached, Johnson and her ilk say "the audience just wants good stories". Now, that’s true. But, why do soap execs inflate their casts with teens? All we want is good stories. Why have soaps begun adding more Latino characters? All we want is good stories. It is hypocrisy to say no to injecting black characters into soaps because "it would be artificial", when TPTB have no problem injecting other groups of characters artificially based on their latest business models.

The truth, I guess, is that despite Y&R’s recent loss, there has not been a mass exodus of black viewers from daytime in general. It’s like "Blacks? We’ve already got them. We don’t have teens and Latinos". Perhaps Johnson and others need more of a wake-up call.

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For one thing I didn't think GL was that great in summer 2002, although compared to what was to come with Conboy, it was certainly a masterpiece. Unfortunately at the time some of the stories just got on every nerve I had, as they were so heavy-handed (the impending Phillip/Harley custody battle, Reva's trial for pulling the plug on Richard) or...heinous (Marah ripping off her clothes and yelling at Tony to go through with raping her).

I think blaming Moore was another example of soap executives looking for an excuse for a long-standing problem. As the article mentions, black characters had had poor stories on Y&R for years. If black viewers left then Moore's exit was likely the last straw to an already existing problem.

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One of those questions is what does Lucy Johnson mean when she calls the report "a big wake-up call for our daytime lineup"? She certainly doesn’t mean more African-American faces. Commenting on The Bold and the Beautiful, in the 8/10-16/02 issue, Johnson says that Executive Producer/Head Writer Bradley Bell "has to serve his own voice, and I respect that". Guiding Light has an entire black family, the Boudreaux, but only Mel is on full time. Proctor and Gamble Productions head honcho Mickey Alice Dwyer-Dobbin says that "I’m trying to tell good, emotional stories that my entire audience can relate to. I’ve not been asked to do things differently, not by the network, the audience, or the focus groups."

Folks, it’s not my intention to play the race card here. I don’t want a quota system, and B&B really is my favorite soap right now. But, isn’t it amazing that a good number of daytime viewers are black, yet blacks are so underrepresented on-screen? Logan notes that CBS high black viewership has contributed mightily to keeping CBS tops in total daytime viewers. Yet, whenever the subject is broached, Johnson and her ilk say "the audience just wants good stories". Now, that’s true. But, why do soap execs inflate their casts with teens? All we want is good stories. Why have soaps begun adding more Latino characters? All we want is good stories. It is hypocrisy to say no to injecting black characters into soaps because "it would be artificial", when TPTB have no problem injecting other groups of characters artificially based on their latest business models.

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