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B&B's Brad Bell Interview: How he sustains the soap after 25 years, a preview & loving tributes to his dad and wife!

Courtesy/CBS

Photo Credit: CBS

Today is the silver anniversary of the hit CBS soap, The Bold and the Beautiful.  And to mark the occasion, we spoke with the series head honcho, the executive producer and head writer of the three-time Daytime Emmy Award winning Outstanding Drama Series, Brad Bell.

From a loving tribute to his father, Bill Bell Sr, to beautiful thoughts about his wife, Colleen, to the difficulties in writing a show while facing challenging decisions in letting cast members go, and the importance of infusing the show with new life, all were integral aspects of our chat.  Brad also previews more on Hope’s pill-popping storyline, and gives us a preview for spring.   So raise your glass to B&B today, 25 years on television is no small feat, my friends, and certainly not in the climate we live in!

Brad, you have to pinch yourself! It’s now officially 25 years of B&B!  Big question, is it as exciting as having President Obama and the First Lady at your house a few weeks ago for the incredible fundraiser that you and your wife, Colleen, put together?

BRAD:  It’s beyond my wildest dreams for B&B to around this long.  The fundraiser was amazing and it was so cool.  The adrenaline was pumping, and the Foo Fighters were playing, and President Obama was so cordial, charismatic, intelligent and interesting. It was a special night.  But I have to say, this is equally as special, because I put my heart and soul into this for 25 years.  It does feel like I finished a marathon.

Your dad, the legendary Bill Bell Sr. started B&B, along with your mother, Lee Phillip Bell.  You must think of him often, and perhaps send a special prayer out to him, especially at this 25 year milestone?

Courtesy/CBS

BRAD: Yeah, I know.  I have moments with him now and then.  When I am writing the show I think of what he might do, given the next twist and turn.  The longer he has been gone, the more I feel I am losing touch with what he would have done, but I still know. My dad was so interesting and unpredictable.  Above all, he had zero tolerance for boring shows.  I think you can be anything, but don’t be boring!

Now on B&B, you are tackling Hope’s (Kim Matula) pill-popping, and the telling of this tale about how prescription drugs runs rampant in our society these days, and how it can destroy people lives.  What inspired the decision to tell this story and have the vehicle be Hope?

BRAD: I think it was two things.   First, it’s very topical right now because of Whitney Houston’s sudden death, and just so many kids are having issues with drugs. And as my kids get older, it’s interesting to hear the stories of their friends, and hear what everyone is going through.  It gives me a fabulous inner spark that you need as a writer.  It’s topical and a fresh story that is appropriate for young people, and yes, I know what Kim Matula is capable of.   She has been our sweet and conservative, preppy princess for awhile.  Now, I want her to be my pill-popping princess, who is going to be able to show us her range as an actress. And, I can tell you, Kim has great range.

© Gilles Toucas

The good and bad of having a half hour show is that you have to clear the deck to make way for new characters and story, when there is not as much airtime.  So did that play into your decision to take Jack Wagner (Nick), Lesley-Anne Down (Jackie) and Brandon Beemer (Owen) off-contract?

BRAD: We have 19 minutes of airtime, and with Lesley-Anne and Jack and Brandon, they are three great actors. I was very well aware that I was not giving them the quality of material that they need and deserve.  So it is much out of respect to them that I leave them open to other options, better options, than being around and being the background at The Bold and the Beautiful.  This is a great place to be working at, but it’s frustrating for talented actors to just chime in a couple times a month.  I am so glad that Jack is doing Dancing with the Stars! I actually think it’s very cool!

You must at times think with your four original core characters …  Ridge, Brooke, Stephanie and Eric, “What can I do now with them after all the drama of the last 25 years?”  Does that cross your mind?

BRAD:  Daily! It’s daily!  (Laughs) It’s amazing.  It’s a blessing and a curse of writing for people and characters for so long. At times, you feel like you have told every story under the sun with these people, and yet as we bring in new actors, new characters, and their roles change.  It’s also necessary to bring new characters to re-infuse the people that have been here a long time, that may have grown stale, and they need that infusion of someone new to the canvas.

What can we look forward to with the upcoming 25th anniversary episode?

Photo Credit: Kathie Hutchins

BRAD: Stephanie and Eric are remarried and they are celebrating their anniversary. And at the end of the show, we will be able to say, “Happy Anniversary!” Yes, we are saying it to Stephanie and Eric, but we are also saying it to the fans, to us, and everyone in the know. March 23rd is our official anniversary, but because we were pre-empted one day when the President was speaking, the show will now air on Monday, the 26th! He bumped the show, and we had a fundraiser for him! (Laughs)  I’m completely kidding, but it is a great episode that any fan of B&B will thoroughly enjoy.  It is a fabulous, fabulous episode. And this is always a lesson to me. When I throw plot away and just get our core actors to speak fondly and lovingly of each other, it’s touching and beautiful and those are very often are most wonderful episodes … when there is no plot. They are all just being themselves and loving each other.

What can you preview for spring on B&B?

BRAD: We know that Steffy is working to hold to her marriage, and in six months in the state of California the divorce is final, and then Liam is willing and able to move on.  So early this summer, this will elapse and Liam will have to have a path with one of these two women.  We know we have Taylor in favor of her daughter, Brooke in favor of her daughter, Ridge caught in the middle, and Stephanie rooting for her namesake. The story just gets better and better and encompasses the whole cast. I can tell you it’s all going to come to a great peak this summer in Italy!

You made a beautiful speech at the cake-cutting ceremony at CBS in honor of B&B’s 25 years on the network.  And the one thing, that I thought was so endearing, was how you spoke of your wife, Colleen, and how without her love and support and encouragement, you would not be here today.  

Photo Credit: Kathie Hutchins

BRAD: Colleen is a very special woman. I met her when she was 14 years old. We both went our own separate ways, and now we are back together for 20 years of marriage and four children.  I think it’s important to acknowledge because this job is so consuming and what we do here. It does not affect the person who is writing it or a person working on it, but it’s the families, the kids, the husbands, the wives, the partners, they deserve a big shout out!

Colleen is also your Director of Special Projects for the show and has tweaked the fashion elements of the series, and stepped it up a notch, or three!

BRAD: She has brought such ‘street cred’ to us in the world of fashion, and we are going to be in Vanity Fair in Italy.  We have been using Monique Lhuillier gowns, and where we were in the past was we were designing our gowns, and at times, not sure what we were doing. People in Italy were saying, “Are we supposed to take these fashions seriously?” Now they do take them seriously. Colleen is doing a tremendous job.

Finally, what did you think when you read the reports that ABC is producing a primetime soap opera pilot called, Americana, centered around the fashion industry?  All I can say is, “hmmm.”

BRAD: Well, I think its sounds very familiar. I wish them well and I wish all of these new soap operas platforms well. But in essence, they are all us.  And, we will continue doing what we do.  I have not read that much about Americana.  They probably want to sell it s a brand new soap, but let me tell you, imitation is the best form of flattery.

So soapers, how do you feel about Brad’s thoughts?  How about we show the soap some love, and put some congrats on the posts today? Just a suggestion.

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Congrats to B&B!!! Even though I do not watch it much anymore I still want the remaining soaps to stay on!

I miss Jackie and Owen and Jack and Felicia and Thorne and Bridget. I get there is only 19 mins of airtime a day, but does it all 95 minutes have to revolve around Hope and Liam and Steffy? Even when they’re not actually on-screen, the other characters are rehashing the story and their probs. Even the secretaries at Forester knew about Hope and Liam’s ‘special’ night!!!!! Enough already! Give us balance and good story and good, interesting characters with drama and humor. I’d like to see Amber and Rick get back together. This Rick romancing Steffy just doesn’t work. It’s laughable.

I have been an avid fan of the show for many years, but not until the story about Bill and Steffy have I been excited to watch. It was a wonderful love match…passionate, exciting, dramatic. Disappointingly, this storyline has been put on the back-burner, and I can’t understand why? There are a multitude of STILL fans who support this show, and we are waiting for something to happen between Bill and Steffy again. The current storyline does not make sense… please reunite STILL and bring back the excitement and drama that they bring to the show. You will make a LOT of fans happy!

Congratulations to Brad Bell, Lee Phillip Bell, Colleen Bell and the entire Bell family, the B&B cast and crew. I love B&B!!!

The Liam/Hope drama is just too long, please end this senseless drama with them and go back to the basics of a haute couture designer firm and show us some wow designs and the drama it takes to produce these designs. I love JMW and I believe she is the draw for your soap right now. The Bridge/Tridge is just too passe.

Get ready the twentysomethings is going to be all he writes for / Liam/Seffy/Hope and the new three Thomas/Caroline/Rick. Taylor and Thorne will be seen two days this week and are engaged and that is the last you will see of them for a long while he has decided to put all his eggs in one basket. Google Lynda Hirsch she is out of Cleveland,Ohio and been commenting on the soaps for years/and read her take on B&B. How good it use to be and how she feels it has really gone down hill.

Breaking News

The Young and the Restless and General Hospital Actress and Writer, Meg Bennett, Passes Away at 75

Meg Bennett, who had played Julia Newman and later became a writer for the top-rated daytime drama, The Young and the Restless has died at the age of 75.  The news comes from her family who shared that she lost her battle to cancer back on April 11th.

Daytime fans remember fondly, Meg’s portrayal of Victor’s (Eric Braeden)first wife. Bennett joined the show in 1980, after her first soap stint for two years in the role of Liza Walton on Search for Tomorrow.

Impressed by her story notes, the late Bill Bell, then head writer of Y&R, had Meg doing double duty acting and writing on the show from 1983-1987. When he decided to write off the character of Julia, he also wanted Meg to stick around as a writer.  Not only did this begin a whole other daytime career for Bennett, but she was not done playing Julia either. Throughout the decades, Julia would still come back to Genoa City for a visit. Most recently, Y&R fans saw Julia in 2018, and again in 2020.

Photo: JPI

Bennett also appeared on Santa Barbara and was a writer on that show as well from 1991-1993. She played the role of Megan Richardson. It was next that Meg had her longest writing stint coming to ABC’s General Hospital. Meg wrote for GH from 1993-2011.

In 1995, Bennett won her first Daytime Emmy for writing and her personal life changed after falling in love with nine-time Daytime Emmy winner, former GH head writer, Bob Guza Jr. In addition, GH also utilized Bennett for her acting skill when she was cast as the villainess Allegra Montenegro.  Meg and Bog Guza were officially married in 2004 and purchased a home once owned by Boris Karloff and Gregory Peck.

Photo: JPI

Additionally, Meg wrote for The Bold and the Beautiful 1987-1989 and later served as a executive story consultant to Brad Bell from 2002-2004.  She also wrote for Sunset Beach, Generations and GH: Night Shift throughout her writing career. She went on to win five WGA Awards for GH and Santa Barbara.

Meg is survived by her husband of 19 years, Robert Guza Jr., two stepdaughters, four grandchildren, a brother and a sister.

Share your remembrances and condolences for Meg Bennett via the comment section below.

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‘Tracker’s’ Justin Hartley on His ‘Passions’ Soap Start, “They’d Have Me With No Shirt Walking Around a Hospital for Three Weeks. It Was Ridiculous, but I Loved It.”

While Justin Hartley’s freshman drama Tracker on CBS is a bonafide smash hit, the man who is now executive producing and the lead of the complex procedural drama, had his humble show biz TV beginnings on the cult favorite soap opera, Passions.

From 2002-2006, Hartley became beloved by young soap viewers everywhere for his performance of Nicholas Foxworth Crane, better known as “Fox.”

Throughout his run on the former NBC soap opera, Hartley’s co-stars now read as who’s who of the soaps including good friend, Eric Martsolf (ex-Ethan, Passions, now Brady, DAYS), former real-life wife, Lindsay Korman (ex-Theresa, Passions), Brook Kerr (ex-Whitney, Passions, now Portia, General Hospital) and even the late, great Andrea Evans (ex-Rebecca, Passions, and ex-Tina One Life to Live).

Photo: JPI

In a look-back at some of the memorable roles of his career at TV Insider including as Adam Newman on The Young and the Restless, the feature has some notable quotes from Justin.

The one that struck us the most was when Hartley was speaking about his time on Passions, which for anyone who knows the show, saw him most of the time shirtless in a scene for absolutely no apparent reason. Looks like Justin agrees with that assessment too, sharing, “They’d have me with no shirt walking around a hospital for three weeks. It was ridiculous, but I loved it.”

Photo: CBS

Meanwhile, tonight on an all-new episode of Tracker (9pm ET/PT) titled “Aurora”, when a widower offers a reward to find his only daughter who disappeared three years ago and is presumed dead, Colter (Hartley) agrees to help track her down. After the missing girl’s father shows Colter a newspaper photo from a recent county fair he’s convinced is her, Colter’s search leads him into the world of amateur ghost hunting and paranormal activity.

“Aurora” is directed by none other than Hartley’s former This Is Us co-star Jon Huertas (ex-Miquel).  In fact, Huertas told TV Insider, he wouldn’t wait to direct Justin again, as he did on the former NBC drama in which they both appeared.

Photo: CBS

Huertas expressed: “I’ll be honest, Justin was one of my favorite actors on the show to watch, to work with, and to direct. I was able to do all of that on This Is Us. And so when the opportunity came up, Ken Olin was like, ‘Hey, you interested in directing on this show, Tracker?’ I was like, “Absolutely. I get to work with Justin again.”‘

So, do you remember Justin as Fox Crane mostly walking around plenty of times shirtless in story as soap hunks do, but for no particular reason? Are you going to catch ‘Tracker’ tonight which features a behind the scenes reunion and collaboration between Jon Huertas and Justin? Comment below.

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General Hospital

‘Knots Landing’s’ Donna Mills and Joan Van Ark Reunite for Los Angeles Ballet Season 18 Gala

The women from the the cul-de-sac at Seaview Circle, stepped out last week as the Los Angeles Ballet celebrated its season 18 gala with ceremonies at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The evening was hosted by LAB staunch supporter, Donna Mills (ex-Abby, Knots Landing, ex-Madeline, General Hospital).  The Emmy Award-winning actress met up with her dear friend and former on-screen rival and co-star, Joan Van Ark (ex-Val, Knots Landing, ex-Gloria, The Young and the Restless) as well as her daughter, Chloe Mills, on the red carpet prior to the start of the evening.

This year’s LAB gala honorees included: Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Emmy, and Grammy nominated composer and pianist Kris Bowers, plus accomplished attorney and Los Angeles Ballet Board Chair, Jennifer Bellah Maguire. The honorees each received Angel Awards for the extraordinary contributions they have made to the arts, LAB and the city of Los Angeles.

Photo: JPI

Los Angeles Ballet is known for classical, contemporary, romantic and neoclassical ballets, for pioneering new works and for presenting relevant works by many of today’s most innovative dance-makers. LAB’s original production of The Nutcracker is an annual holiday favorite for Los Angeles residents and regional, national and international visitors.

Photo: Shutterstock for Los Angeles Ballet

Led by Artistic Director Melissa Barak, LAB performs in multiple theater venues across LA County including The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, Royce Hall at UCLA, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, Pasadena Civic Auditorium and Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. As part of its mission, LAB wants to expand people’s knowledge of and nurture a love for ballet.

Longtime fans of Donna Mills also know that when early in her career she was a dancer. In fact, when she got her first soap opera gig as a nightclub singer named “Rocket” on Secret Storm, Mills was shocked.

Photo: JPI

In a 2015 interview with Smashing Interviews Magazine Donna recounted, “I’m not a singer. I was a dancer. Why they chose me to be a nightclub singer, I have no idea, and I actually sang on the show.”

So, glad to see Donna and Joan stepping out together in support of the Los Angeles Ballet? Miss Knots Landing’s Abby and Val? Let us know via the comment section below.

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