Actor Jerry Douglas anticipates that fans of "The Young and the Restless"--and particularly of his fine, upstanding character, John Abbott--are rejoicing over his current story turn: John's split from his conniving younger wife, Jill.
"People have been coming up to me for years saying, 'Do you know how evil that Jill is? She's disgusting. You ought to get rid of her,' " recounts Douglas with a laugh. "They lecture me constantly. I sit there and say, 'Yeah, you're right. Thank you.' That's generally the rule of thumb. They constantly tell me how foolish I am to not see through her. They don't understand how a fine man like John could be married to such a trampy woman."
Now, at long last, the mismatched characters are headed for a divorce, delighting not only fans but Douglas and co-star Jess Walton (who plays Jill).
"This is some of the best writing we've ever had to do," maintains Douglas, who also admitted that it was difficult to play at first. "Jess Walton and I are such good friends that it was hard for us to be mean to one another," he says. "Plus, it was difficult in the beginning for us to play the anger and frustration the characters felt toward each other, because--no matter what--there are certain relationships that (head writer) Bill Bell has developed so long over so many years that they'll always care for each other. There's always a love, and they'll probably find some way back to it down the line. He does that with John and Jill, Victor and Nikki, and certain core characters."
Douglas shares that special kind of love off-camera with his real-life wife, Kymberly Bankier. The pair, who celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in April, have proved that a May/September union can thrive.
"I love Kymberly very much," says Douglas, as if still a newlywed. "Her happiness means everything to me."
Douglas met Kymberly more than a decade ago when she was a journalist and anchorwoman in Detroit. She put her career on hold and moved to Los Angeles to marry him. However, of late, Douglas notes that his wife "has gotten back to what she really loves to do. She's doing a lot of infommercials as the host and broadcaster and is doing great. She did one with some soap-opera actors and Dionne Warwick for Psychic Friends Network, which is by far the largest 900 call-in number in the country."
His wife's new career twist inspired Douglas to recently create a company with some friends to provide a 900 call-in number for devoted daytime fans.
"It's called 'Soap Stars Talk 2-U' and features personal, prerecorded interviews with seven of us--myself, Jess, Don Diamont (Brad Carlton), J. Eddie Peck (Cole Howard), Kristoff St. John (Neal Winters), and Lauralee Bell (Christine Blair)," explains Douglas. "Kymberly conducted all the interviews. They're fun to listen to because you can talk about things that you can never really relate in an article. You never can print what you can say in a five-minute interview. It's hard."
\o7 "The Young and the Restless" airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on CBS.\f7