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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

News

Mishael Morgan Reveals Why She’s Taken ‘A Bit of a Step Back’ From Y&R and Gone on Recurring Status

This past June, we all celebrated the groundbreaking victory of The Young and the Restless‘ Mishael Morgan (Amanda Sinclair) as the first Black actress to ever win in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category during the 49th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

In the months that followed, Mishael has not been seen as much on the top-rated CBS daytime drama, plus when fans noticed she was no longer in the opening main credits, it got them wondering just what is Morgan’s status with the show.

Finally today, via video on her Instagram story, Mishael shared some news after finishing her day of taping in Genoa City.

The Emmy-winner revealed she has indeed gone on recurring status with the show: “I just wrapped my last scenes back at Y&R, and I just wanted to let the cat out of the bag a little bit.  A lot of people have noticed that my name is not on the main credits anymore, and I wanted everybody to know that it was my decision.  I decided, actually, back in December, that I wanted to take a bit of a step back from the show.  I just felt like at this point in my life and this point in my career, I wanted to mix things up a little bit. But Y&R will always be home. I have so appreciated this safe place to land that they have given me, so I know that I can be back. They are like family to me, and coming back just reminds me of that.”

Morgan also thanked the loyal viewers and her followers expressing, “I’m so appreciative of you guys, and all the fans who have supported me along this Y&R journey. But I’m still on it, I’m still going to be recurring, so you’ll still catch me in Genoa City.”

The talented star ended with a tease of projects and roles to come, telling her fans to, “Keep looking out for new things.”

So will you miss not seeing Mishael as much on Y&R?  Are you exciting to see what roles and projects she gets involved with next? Are you glad she is still recurring with the show and will continue to make appearances in stories? Comment below.

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News

The Young and the Restless Announces Showcast For 50th Anniversary Season

As Y&R gets ready to officially kick-off their 50th anniversary season, beginning tomorrow on September 30th, the CBS soap opera will be serving up audio-only episodes in a showcast, and go live on weekdays via podcast platforms everywhere.

Harkening back to the golden age of soap opera which began on radio, The Young and the Restless, will offer up a modern take on the audio soap, making it the first and only network soap opera to do so.  This way fans can listen in to the drama anytime anywhere.

Courtesy/CBS

In a statement to Deadline, Steve Raizes, EVP of podcasting and audio for Paramount, shared: “We are thrilled to be launching The Young and the Restless as a showcast. As we continue to expand our podcast offerings, we find shows that share a deeply passionate fanbase translate well into the audio space.  We’ve seen significant success with this strategy with The Late Show Pod Show with Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show: Ears Edition and expect similar results with The Young and the Restless.”

So, will you be checking out Y&R’s audi0-only episode showcast? Comment below.

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General Hospital

GH’s Nancy Lee Grahn Shares Excerpt From Her Upcoming Memoir

In celebration of beginning her 27th year as Alexis Davis on General Hospital, two-time Daytime Emmy-winner, Nancy Lee Grahn, decided to mark the occasion by revealing to her longtime fans an excerpt from her upcoming memoir due out in 2023.

Taking to her official Facebook page, Nancy shared the excerpt starting with contained some of the back-history of her soap opera alter-ego : “I play the role of Alexis Davis. I am a public defender, prosecutor, personnel injury, civil, malpractice, tax and family attorney. I am the bastard child of Mikos Cassadine who died after being thrown into his own weather machine which he designed to freeze the world. My mother, Kristen Bergman was a famous opera singer whose throat was slit by my father’s wife, Helena. Unhappy with the turn of events, I hurled my frail 75 year old stepmother off a five hundred foot parapet slamming her onto jagged rock only for her to walk away unscathed. Even more determined, I shoved her off a thousand foot cliff into the frigid subzero ocean. Helena not only survived unscathed, she apparently scaled 1000 feet up the cliff and continued to wreak havoc on Port Charles.”

Nancy closed the excerpt with some special acknowledgements: “Always so grateful to have an ongoing contract, my own parking space and people I’ve never met who come up to me regularly and tell me how much younger I look in person. It’s a gift that I have been able to and still get to do what I love to do for such a gloriously long time. I love my job the most because it is the job that gave me the security I needed to greenlight Kate as a single mother, raise her while being able to give her the things I dreamed of giving her, put her through school all the way through college, and will hopefully allow me to spoil my grandchildren. The enormous love & gratitude I have for ABC and Disney for allowing me the privilege of working for them is immeasurable. But the real truth is without the support from all of you, this day would not be what it is. As always, I see you and thank you.”

Make sure to read the entire excerpt.  Now let us know, are you looking forward to what Nancy will share in her upcoming memoir? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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GH’s Nicholas Alexander Chavez (Spencer) talks with Michael Fairman immediately following his Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Younger Performer in Drama Series. Leave A Comment
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