Is Doug Davidson back on contract as Paul Williams on The Young and the Restless? Doug tells all. Check it out here--->>>
We had the immense pleasure of speaking with one of the "walking historian's" from TV's #1 Daytime Drama, The Young and The Restless, Doug Davidson.
We had so much we wanted to discuss. We talked about that meeting with Mal Young when Doug found out he was being taken off contract, the outpouring of love and support he has received from the fans, that "Newman Enterprises Press Release" (the picture of Eric and Doug that let us know Doug was indeed back on set as shared by Eric Braeden), the new regime (which really isn't new), Doug being back on set, Bill Bell and whatever else he was nice enough to answer. A little behind the scenes information, we went a little longer than we usually do. My fault (we had so much we wanted to know). I apologized to a very gracious Doug. We usually begin with a discussion of an interviewee's background, how they got started in the industry, etc. But we just went straight into this one.
You would have had to be living under a rock with no Social Media to have missed the progression of events that began when viewers found out you had been taken off contract after forty years. Did you have even an inkling of what was on the horizon? "I finished a scene and one of our associate producers got a text from Mal Young. Mal Young does have my phone number. We have texted in the past. But he texted the Associate Producer and said, 'Have Doug come to my office.' I thought, after a scene? That was kind of a red flag. After I finished, I went to his office. Mal told me he was taking me off contract and that he preferred no one knew because it wouldn't do me or them any good. He'd rather use me (in a recurring capacity) than hiring somebody nobody knows. I thought that was the nicest take it or leave it I ever heard. And if I didn't agree they would probably kill me off or something like that. I did agree to go on recurring."
But recurring wasn't exactly recurring was it? Or it didn't appear so on any of our screens. "January, February and part of March (of 2018) were somewhat normal. But then it just began to taper off. I think my last contact with them was in July. I taped one show in the beginning of August which aired on September 19th. I hadn't heard anything after that."
The viewers were all wondering of course what was going on when Paul appeared less and less and then disappeared from our screen. A viewer on Twitter asked the million dollar question. They asked if you had been fired. "Yes, someone asked me on Twitter if I was fired and I said 'seems so'. They had shown the new cop sitting behind Paul's desk. I hadn't heard anything from production. And that lit a firestorm on Social Media. The show called me, I think the week it came out on Twitter. They said 'oh we want to talk to you'. But at that point, I wasn't interested. I had done four or five shows in six months so really nothing at all. It was pretty clear they were diminishing the vets. And it wasn't just me. Kristoff, God rest his soul, went through the exact same thing. They were doing the same thing to his character. They got rid of Greg Rikaart. I spoke to Greg after the Newman Enterprises Press Release. I'm going to pass it along that he is available and willing to come back. It would be really nice to have him back in the fabric of the show. So, basically, they were doing similar things to all the characters who had been there for a long time to some degree or another."
Indeed, that was some Twitter Storm. One can only assume that had something to do with the show reaching out. "Yes, like I said after the Twitter storm, I received a call. They wanted me to come in for three shows for a Christmas Miracle. But honestly, at that point, I felt they just wanted to quiet things down and get on with their agenda. I talked to Sony and said under the present circumstances, I'm not really interested in coming back. I was told things that were just not true i.e they weren't able to get a hold of me and had to write me out of shows They didn't know my availability. All of it was untrue."
Viewers were upset about your situation as well as the direction of the show in general. The show broke so many rules including how to introduce new characters. It was a great idea to bring on a Hispanic family, another underrepresented group like they did with the Winters in the 90's. But the execution and the delivery was met with much resistance and push back from viewers. "It's not as though you can't go through change or bring in new characters. But when you do it so abruptly, it's uncomfortable when the people that are in their living rooms see so much of characters they don't know or understand yet. I think that is what they did and it was incredibly hard not only for the actors who were put in that position but our audience who didn't recognize the show anymore. When Paul was introduced, I spent so much time with Mrs. Chancellor. She took me under her wing. It was a slow integration. So, it would be easier for the audience to accept who you and your character were. When the show went to an hour and more characters were added, they slowly introduced the new characters using the same formula."
There was nothing slow about what happened recently when Eric caused a Social Media Explosion when he tweeted out that picture of you and him letting us know that Paul Williams was back in Genoa City. Laughter. "I'm in the car. Eric calls and he's incredibly excited. He told me "My Facebook! My Twitter! My Instagram!" I have no idea what he is talking about. He had sent me a text also. I pulled over. There were exclamation points all over the text. I read about all the excitement on Social Media about my return. Eric was always so incredibly supportive of me working in front and behind the scenes."
Eric has been vocal and has shared in the viewers' concern about what was the direction of the show. He kept us in the loop as much as possible about what was going on. And we appreciated it so much. So, Paul Williams is back in Genoa City. Thank God. Are you on contract? "I'm not on contract. I was told that wasn't on the table. But I was assured I'd be treated with respect and I trust the people in charge now enough to let me know if there are winds of change. There is an advantage. I can also have stuff side on the side. I can travel. The daily grind of it is very difficult. The commute, the line load, and I've been reevaluating my personal priorities at this stage of my life also. So, I think we are in a good place."
If you are good, we are good. We will take Doug and Paul anyway we can get them. March 25, 2019, is "D Day". What can you tell us about Paul Williams' return? "I can tell you Paul tries to make everything right in lickety-split time. There is no explanation of his absence. As someone said, maybe he was just on a very long coffee break." Laughter. "
What was it like your first day back on set? "Quite honestly, it was strange going back but nothing had really changed. There were some people I had never met before. But I had the same room, same set, my dressing room was the same, my parking space was still there."
Of course! Because you had to return. The new regime knew it also. What are your thoughts on the new regime? (Anthony "Tony" Morino (Executive Producer) and Josh Griffith (Head Writer). "Well, they aren't really new." Laughter. "Josh is a previous co-executive producer and head writer. Tony has of course been here. When Josh was with us before he had some very significant storylines. He truly is in the vein of Bill Bell. He understands the characters. He knows who they are. He really knows the genre. He is one of the reasons I was so open to coming back. I love what Josh did his first go around. He's calming. He's sincere. He would come down and watch us work and find our personality quirks and integrate them into the story. He's a wonderful human being, very kind and also incredibly qualified."
Yes, we have already seen the fruit of those qualifications and positive changes. We had the news that Adam is being recast. Eric teased Victor's office returning. The Abbott pool made an appearance. Any other changes viewers can look forward to? "Now, Josh Griffith has a difficult task. It's like turning around the Exxon Valdez, a big tanker. You have all these stories going in one direction and now you have to change direction without being too abrupt. You don't want to just drop storylines and move to something else i.e. the J.T. murder mystery. The audience has invested a year in this storyline and they would like some sort of resolve and payoff. The good news is we were blessed with Josh Griffith as a producer in the booth. As a writer, he naturally thought, well that's interesting, I'm not sure I would have gone that way. So, he had those seeds of thought and had those future storylines in his head. It will be long after March until Josh is writing his own story. Mal's name is still on the scripts because there is still a good amount of his input that is playing. As far as Tony goes, he says 'you know it's not all that complicated. You need two characters in a room with an issue.' That is true and is not an oversimplification. We are glad for this new chapter led by people familiar with the people and the characters of the show.
Yes, it appears simple enough. Not that we are suggesting that EP's and Headwriters don't have difficult jobs, because they do. Especially because as you alluded to before, the daily grind of daytime can be grueling. But at the same time viewers, for the most part, want compelling character-driven storylines played out by actors who can deliver. "That's all you need. There is a formula to storytelling. I'm not making that specific to this genre. In any genre, it's just how people watch. The pacing, the light, the style of the shot may change. There are other variables but when it comes down to the basics of storytelling, it will never go away. It will be here for as long as humankind is on this planet. Like, This is Us, look how fast it took off. It was a hit right out the box. The viewing public is hungry for compelling storytelling with compelling characters. Bill Bell understood this. Bill didn't deviate from these personal stories for characters."
Fast forward all these years later, as a viewer how I wish I would have savored the genius of Bill Bell more. But I was younger and didn't quite grasp the fullness of who he was and what he brought to my screen. "As a twenty-something-year-old person, I would have appreciated being a little more mature, a little more developed in realizing exactly what he had crafted. All this was happening in front of me. In the last decade from '92-'97, which was his last year's writing, we had that relationship. But I could have learned some things so much sooner. I wish for the first 15 years that I would have been more aware. Remember Paul's first detective agency? They filled the file drawers with his draft. He pretty much wrote in all caps, single space and no indent. Every script was done that way. Then it went to the dialogue writers who put it in a format that was delivered to the actors. There was pretty much no change. Now it's totally different, we get revisions, we get scene changes, rewrites and scheduling bumps. But with Bell, it was the way it was from the beginning to the end. It was so interesting to me to see how it came out of his head into his fingers and then onto the page. It was almost a stream of consciousness. He was the man."
Absolutely. He's sorely missed in daytime. Unfortunately, very unfortunately, we loss another great in daytime, Kristoff St. John. We want to personally extend our condolences to the cast. Our hearts with yours are heartbroken. "He was an incredible guy. Hollywood is a me, me, me place. But he was always more concerned about you and your life. He would embrace your life like his own. Bill wanted an African American executive and build a family that would be just like any other family on our show. There was no pressure for him to do that. He wanted to. Kristoff was the perfect guy to do it. One of the most beautiful scenes I saw him do had no words. It was after he was put in a corner office. He was thinking about his past and all he did was walk around the corner office looking at his nameplate. It was a wordless scene so well done. You could see everything in his face like wow I finally made it. On a personal level, I will say I never saw anyone in such agony over the loss of his son. It was such a difficult situation. I honestly believe he is with his son, he is happy and out of pain. I think about him all the time. I just feel now with Kristoff, I just have one more angel."
One can never have too many angels. We love him and will miss him so but believe he is in a better place. Is there anything else you would like to share with us. You have been very patient with your time and we thank you. "No problem. You know, after 40 years of playing Paul Williams, it took a while to adjust to life without it because as an adult I hadn't known life without it.
My personality, my haircut, the clothes I'd wear, the face you present in public all of it was connected to the show. I could never get too far away from looking like a police chief or a private detective. So, it was a huge personal place of adjustment when it was no longer there. Yet, it was a fascinating time. It wasn't always easy. But really fascinating. Sometimes these bumps in the road and these difficult times totally reconnects you with your faith. The things beyond what you can see. And not that I didn't have the same insight before. I've had problems of course. I've had issues with my aging parents and their health issues and things like that. But with this, I have experienced that everything is going to be alright. You just need to walk blindly sometimes and not give up and realize there is a silver lining to the difficult times. I learned a lot."
We have seen you continuously tweet and post your thanks to the viewers and fans, who have since day one of finding out you were taken off contract, have worked tirelessly to get you back on the show. If you wouldn't mind giving us another message in closing. "Everyone's support has meant everything to me. I received tweets and support from fellow people in the industry from Days & General Hospital. It meant a lot. It's important to be supportive of one another. To all of the viewers who stepped up and raised the banner in support of Bill Bell's legacy, me, the character and other characters on the show, you have made my return possible. You have been so gracious getting the word out and supporting me on a professional level. But more than that. Your personal support has pulled me up in some of the darkest days in my professional career. Personally and professionally I can not thank you enough."
Thanks so much, Doug! March 25, 2019, Paul Williams is back! Order has been restored to the galaxy.