Digest has learned that Scott Hamner, Y&R's co-head writer, is taking a temporary leave of absence. "I had decided to let my contract expire but Maria [Arena Bell, executive producer/head writer] asked if we could call it a sabbatical instead," explains Hamner. "She really didn't want me to leave, so I agreed to take a few months off. She has been so gracious and generous about my need to take a break and I appreciate that." In what could be viewed as a lateral move to help Bell focus on writing duties during Hamner's absence, Daytime Confidential is reporting that Jill Faren Phelps, who is the current executive producer for HOLLYWOOD HEIGHTS and served in the same capacity for GENERAL HOSPITAL, GUIDING LIGHT and ANOTHER WORLD, is in talks to take over the EP reins at Y&R. So far, there is no comment from the show.