MAY 6, 2013
TORONTO - "The Young & the Restless" star Joshua Morrow says venerable actress Jeanne Cooper, who plays Katherine Chancellor on the hit daytime soap, is "hanging in there" after returning to hospital with an undisclosed illness.
But Morrow adds it's a "touch-and-go" situation for the 84-year-old Daytime Emmy Award winner, who's been playing the so-called grande dame of Genoa City since 1973.
"I don't feel it's my place to say what's wrong with her but she's definitely fighting," Morrow, who plays Nicholas Newman, said Monday during a stop in Toronto to meet with fans and promote a new "Y&R" contest.
"We're just crossing our fingers and praying. Somebody wrongfully put on Twitter that she had passed away but she definitely did not. She's fighting and she's a very tough woman, so cross your fingers."
Last Wednesday, Cooper's son, actor Corbin Bernsen, wrote on his Facebook page that his mother had been re-admitted to hospital after receiving home care for a serious condition.
Morrow said the news "has been very difficult to handle" for the cast and crew, noting she "means so much" to them and to the show.
"She's the duchess and she is a huge part our history, and it's not just her character," he said.
"She's like a grandmother to everyone but she's not like a cuddly grandma — she talks like a sailor and she's tough on you and she'll make fun of you."
"Y&R," which airs on CBS in the U.S. and Global in Canada, is into its 40th year.
To celebrate the milestone, Global's "Entertainment Tonight Canada" — in partnership with Moxie's — is holding a contest giving away a trip for two to the Monte Carlo Television Festival to meet cast members at the invitation-only anniversary party. "ET Canada" will also have interviews with cast members at the festival.
Morrow, 39, said "The Young & the Restless" owes a great debt to the Canadian viewers who support the show. He's been involved in some wild storylines since joining the series in 1994 as the second child of Victor Newman and Nikki Reed and the heir to the Newman fortune.
"I think the craziest thing that ever happened to me was Nick once accidentally slept with another woman he thought was his wife," said Morrow, who was born in Juneau, Alaska.
In 2006, his character was also in a plane crash and miraculously returned to Genoa City with just a case of amnesia.
Morrow admitted Nick's near-death was the result of contract negotiations.
"There was a time when I thought I wanted to leave and we kind of reached an impasse so they wrote themselves a way out," said the father of four.
"But ... at the end of the day I realized that this show means so much to me and it's afforded me and my family an amazing life and I will always be incredibly grateful and I will never leave it. I love this show more than anything."
Still, the climate onset is much different than when he first signed on and he and fellow cast member Eddie Cibrian (the pair were also in the boy band 3Deep in the '90s) would pull pranks to make each other flub their lines during scenes.
With network executives worried about the future of the soap genre following the cancellation of "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" — which now have a new life online — such antics aren't possible, said Morrow.
"Those times were way more fun," he admitted. "No disrespect to the new regime that's running things. Those were the high-flying days of soaps — our ratings were through the roof, we took our time with our product. If you wanted two, three, four, five takes of something, they gave it to you.
"Now, it's much more business-oriented. Everything is about the money. Creatively it's kind of had to take a back seat to the financial aspects of our show. I'm not kidding, we do 98 per cent of our scenes in one take, whether it's your best work or not, because we just have to move so fast."