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Y&R's Maria Arena Bell Interview: Her thoughts on Franco, Darnell, Bach & Spring in Genoa City!

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Photo Credit: Kathie Hutchins

The Bell family has a lot to celebrate over the next few weeks as this week The Bold and the Beautiful turns 23 and next week The Young and the Restless turns 39. 

On-Air On-Soaps caught up with the executive producer and head writer of Y&R, Maria Arena Bell, on the silver carpet of B&B’s anniversary shindig to get some quick thoughts on the some of the series latest casting coups, how her art world and soap world have collided, and a preview of what is to come in Genoa City.

Performance artist, Kalup Linzy recently did an interview with you for The Huffington Post.  The two of you and James Franco seem to all be intertwined now.  First from the art world, and now the soap opera world … or vice versa!

MARIA:  That was the most amazing thing.  When I met James Franco I kind of thought, I was one of the few people involved in the contemporary art world and soap operas, until I met James.  In fact, the big major sequence that was part of his storyline on General Hospital was shot at MOCA (The Museum of Contemporary Art).  I was there that night wearing my MOCA hat and seeing what General Hospital was producing.  It was sort of an ironic situation.  I met Kalup before they ever went on GH, when they were sort of thinking about how they might do a project within soap opera.  I think Kalup is a very talented artist.  James Franco is also a very serious artist and in fact, MOCA is really excited. We are doing another project with James Franco, and it’s called the Rebel Project and that will be opening very soon here in Los Angeles.  It’s based on the movie, Rebel Without a Cause.  

Courtesy/HuffingtonPost

James enlisted the help of other major contemporary artists to collaborate with him on this.  It’s almost like a performance art meets installation art, and it should be really brilliant.  What I like about what James and Kalup did, was that they were actually very respectful of the soap genre. I was afraid that they would mock it, but it was not mocking at all.  Especially, not Kalup, because he is the biggest soap fan.  He is a huge Y&R fan, and he is adorable. The whole experience was fun.

Do you think you would bring MOCA into The Young and the Restless with a big location remote as General Hospital did?

MARIA:  It’s interesting, not necessarily MOCA, but we have had contemporary art stories on the show.  We had Victor with Sabrina, and she was his art consultant.  Then we had Devon collect a piece by Shepard Fairey.  Shepard is someone I know though MOCA because we did the Art in the Streets show.  We like using a little touch of art on Y&R, as it sort of rounds out our world in Genoa City.

How is it having all these very popular and well-respected and beloved All My Children actors now over at Y&R?  I am referring to Darnell Williams (Sarge) and Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea) and Debbi Morgan (Harmony).  Look at the talented array of people you have added to the cast.

Photo Credit: Kathie Hutchins

MARIA:  It’s incredible and it’s a total, total dream team, and to add to the incredible actors we have as our core characters.  We have always had the greatest cast.  Then you bring in a few of these people to add to the cast and add new dynamic stories, it’s amazing.  Darnell is just fantastic.  I really wanted to play him in a very different way than Jesse Hubbard from AMC.  I think that is the same thing we have experienced with Debbi.  Debbi’s character is very different, than who she was as Angie on AMC.  I think Debbi was very anxious to do that, and to play someone who was not always the “nice gal”.   She wanted a breath of fresh air and that is also what Genie Francis (Genevieve) wanted.  She wanted to bring something new other than Laura from General Hospital.  These are actors I have watched and admired for years.  I am a soap fan.  I watch all these shows!

Will we see Darnell’s character evolve and have legs?  Is there a plan in place for him?

MARIA:  Yes, you will. What I really love is that viewers are going to see him really bond with Jack Abbott.  One of the things on a soap you don’t get to play as much is friendship.  You don’t usually get to play the deep bonding between two guys.  I think it’s so important for the audience to see that.  I think this is going to be an important friendship for the both of them.  I feel that Darnell will be with us for a long-long time, and so not to have him right off the bat with a romance, but to instead really have him in a bromance! (Laughs)   I really liked that idea.  Sarge is really tough on Jack, and he is going to help him make some progress.

Let’s talk a minute about Catherine Bach.  Now that really caught me by surprise. Where did the casting idea come from to make Daisy Duke, Chelsea’s mom?

Photo Credit: Kathie Hutchins

MARIA:  I love Catherine Bach.  I know her because our children went together when they were in pre-school.  I also know her personal story.  I was at her husband’s funeral when he passed away.  I knew the fun side of Catherine. I knew that Catherine was this very dynamic and fiery person, and that she is a talented actress.  So when we were looking for a mother for Chelsea, I was: A) always struck by the idea to bring Catherine to daytime, and B) That Catherine and Melissa Claire Egan have this very striking resemblance and that they really do seem like mother and daughter.  I don’t know if you have noticed, but she and Melissa are very connected.  When I met with Catherine about the role, I said to her, “Wait till you meet Melissa Claire Egan.  You are going to see that she is going to remind you of yourself!”  And Catherine said, “Oh my Gosh. She really does!”

What can you preview for spring on The Young and the Restless?

MARIA:  We are going to see the struggle that Jack Abbott is facing, and the obstacles he has and his fight to overcome them.  There is going to be a lot of unexpected romance.  There is going to be some interesting movement in the boardroom as well as the bedroom.  A very Y&R move! (Laughs)

Photo Credit: Kathie Hutchins

Finally, look at the accomplishments of the Bell legacy that we are celebrating.  Y&R is turning 39 and B&B turns 25!

MARIA:  Everyone at Y&R just celebrated our 39th Anniversary the other week, and we are thrilled to be 39 officially on March 26th.  Our 10,000 episode is going to air this summer. That is a huge milestone and next year will be 40 years.  And 25 years of The Bold and the Beautiful is amazing.  I went to work there in 1989.  It’s really exciting to see and I think it’s fantastic.

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Harlee
Guest
Harlee

My question is why does everyone that interview MAB give us viewers such softball interviews? Why not push her on the disastrous decisions she has made about the direction of Y&R? There have been plenty questionable decisions and I think in your heart you realize the horrible state Y&R is in at the moment. Why not ask her about the ratings slide especially during the Feb. sweeps? Y&R didn’t post any increases what so ever? So does this mean advertising will take a hit for revenue and which could mean long time vets will be out or pushed aside for… Read more »

Leisha
Guest
Leisha

Why is everything about the new additions to the cast? It’s consumes her interviews and consumes the show. Can’t they write a story without a new character? I don’t remember every story having to have a someone new in it. The onslaught of new characters has smothered the show and prevented the viewers seeing their classic families and favorite relationships they watch the Y&R for. Jill & Katherine haven’t had a story in years and pass like ships in the night. New viewers must wonder why those 2 old ladies live together, if they even notice they live together. Not… Read more »

Jared
Guest
Jared

Michael, I hope you do get a chance to discuss fan concerns with MAB. I want to put something out there because Y&R was my favorite show for decades, long before I discovered RC/FV’s OLTL. Bill Bell wrote smart, beautiful soap. I didn’t always like what he did, but I trusted him, because I knew that 4 out of 5 times, there’d be a satisfying payoff, which is darn good for a soap opera, given the amount of episodes that have to be produced. Y&R today is a plot-driven, overpopulated shell of its former self, and that makes me sad.… Read more »

Mo
Guest
Mo

Too many new characters (although I do think Catherine and Melissa are doing a good job), too many storylines. She needs to take a machete to the cast and trim it down and maybe that will help with the writing. I would like to see more Gloria–she is who got me hooked on the show in the first place. Would also like to see Sharon and Adam together. I get recycling is in, but not with storylines. How many times are Sharon and Nick going to be pushed together before they realize it’s not working? I don’t feel the heat… Read more »

Bart
Guest
Bart

MAB and her co-hacks Hogan Sheffer and Scott “My name’s NOT Earl” Hamner have ruined my beloved show!! SORAS-ing the character of Kyle will be another move certain to put another nail in this show’s coffin!

NEW WRITERS PLEASE AND STAT!!

Wayne Anderson
Guest
Wayne Anderson

Will we see Michael E. Knight on Y&R? I would love to see him as a friend on Paul Williams that takes over and covers his detective operation. And later becomes a partner, ad a condition of getting freedom for killing his son, even though he never meant to. And there he .can have his long time reunion with Darnell and Debbi from AMC. days. He could become to new PI of Genoa City

General Hospital

Kristina Wagner Shares She’s Back On Contract at General Hospital

This past week, General Hospital fans were thrilled with the news that longtime fan favorite, Kristina Wagner (Felicia) was on her way back to the soap opera to tape new episodes.  However on Saturday, the actress shared even bigger news.  She is back on contract at the ABC daytime drama series.

Kristina revealed via her Instagram: “I’m pleased to announce I just finished my first work week on contract with General Hospital. The good people there have made it a well oiled machine. I’m so impressed with the way they navigate the Covid protocols. It’s not easy but we’ll worth it. We’ve got some fun storylines coming up. I’ve been thrown in the middle of a current storyline and I think Felicia’s part in it gives it some color. Stay tuned!”

Earlier in the week on Tuesday via Twitter, Kristina expressed: “Tomorrow I head back to work on General Hospital! Lucky me. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of that family once again. Here we go. More to come. Felicia Scorpio rides again.”

Wagner began her GH role as Felicia Cummings, the Aztec princess back in 1984 and has appeared on and off the show since then.

So what storyline do you think Felicia will get thrown into? Will she return to Port Charles to help Maxie (Kirsten Storms)?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

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News

‘Dr. Oz Show’ Taken Off the Air in NY and PA Due to Senate Run; Daphne Oz ‘The Good Dish’ to Fill Time Slot

In light of his announcement that he will be running as a republican senate candidate in the state of Pennsylvania, Dr Oz’s daytime talk and medical show, The Dr. Oz Show, is being taken off the air in key markets in New York and Pennsylvania, according to the Fox Station Group.

According to Deadline’s sources, Fox TV Stations proceeded with pulling the Sony Pictures TV-distributed syndicated series because of the prospect of being forced to give other political candidates running in Pennsylvania equal time, expressing that it “would be a nightmare for us, there was no way we were going to be able to do that.”

In its place, look for Dr. Oz’s daughter, Daphne Oz, to be the fill-in with her show.

Starting on January 18th, Daphne’s The Good Dish, will take over the time slot during the duration of her father’s political campaign.  This potentially could go all the way through November of 2022, if Oz remains in the race through election day.

Last fall, Fox TV Stations renewed The Dr. Oz Show for two more years which gave it life through 2023.

So, do you think more stations will go bye-bye and have The Dr. Oz show pulled? What do you think of daughter Daphne’s series as the fill-in? Comment below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital Has No Immediate Plans to Recast the Role of Jason Morgan Following Steve Burton’s Departure

According to a report from Variety, ABC’s General Hospital is not planning on recasting the role of Jason Morgan at this time, following the exit of Steve Burton.

The two-time Daytime Emmy winning star was let-go from the soap after not adhering to their Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

The mandate went into effect on November 1st and in story, the series wrote Burton out, but still left wiggle room for the character to return.

Jason was buried under a rubble when a cave collapsed on top of him, while he was trying to apprehend arch-villain, Peter August (Wes Ramsey).

In his exit announcement on Instagram, Burton did express: “Maybe one day if these mandates are lifted, I can return and finish my career as Jason Morgan.”  Steve had played the role of Jason since 1991, but with a four-year break at Y&R, before returning to the role in 2017.

Now whether down the line, GH does eventually recast Jason remains to be seen.

So, it looks like Jason will be off the canvas for awhile, and Port Charles will continue to grieve for him.

So, what are your thoughts? Should GH leave Jason off the canvas? Should they recast down the line?  Comment below.

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DAYS head writer, Ron Carlivati talks with Michael Fairman on the creation and the making of the limited-series “Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem” currently streaming on Peacock. Leave A Comment

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Ted King as Jack

The Bold and the Beautiful

Airdates:11-16/17-2021

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