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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.  


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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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 the boring “Kevin & Angelina” story! Why bring on “Daisy” again? Fans don’t like the character at all! The balance of show is sorely lacking and fans are being pushed down our throats with the same characters! It is so sad to see our beloved characters being written so out of character and then fans are turning against these long time characters…example Phyllis or Sharon. Then you have some vets twirling in the wind with no story, bunch of psychos constantly running around and that gets old to watch. Where’s the romance? None in sight but GC-SVU? I’m a long time viewer of CBS and quit watching Y&R for an year until (not your site) but another site (you are familiar) with does nothing but BASH Y&R & B&B (which I”m loving right now GO BRAD keep traditional) pushing their own agenda and actually stating wanting Y&R cancelled! I retreated back to my home of CBS regardless of state trying to find something positive. I would never wish any soap death, I seen enough but when push comes to shove I will go home and won’t watch GH (not a fan of RC & FV) and stopped watching DOOL all together because like it or not CBS soaps are stilling very viable in ratings and wanting to keep my last soaps on the air. I for one was so upset with Y&R the last year and screamed very loud about it, I watched since the debut and feel I had a right to be upset because it’s not Bill Bell’s mighty soap. He knew how balance and when you have heinous characters pay for their deeds and knew when a story was working he changed direction. NOT MAB & cronies they just keep shoving it on fans. I want fresh new blood in the writing department for Y&R such as Lorraine B., Jill Lorie Hurst, Pam Long or better yet BRING BACK Kay Alden to name a few that know how to write traditional style writing with romance, mystery and social issues as my beloved Mr. Bell knew how to write.


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 much happens at the Chancellor estate any more. Everything Chancellor that built since 1973 has been abandoned for Tucker. Which isn’t interesting in the least unless you are a super fan of that actor.


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. It seems that MAB has “vision”, and she has decided to stick to that “vision”, but I think the numbers speak volumes. Stalwart viewers like me are abandoning MAB’s vision of Y&R, and they don’t seem to be able to replace us, as seen by the shockingly declining ratings. I think she needs to face facts and steer this show back on course, or I am sorry to say, she should step aside, along with Sheffer and Hamner. There are so many talented, creative people out there who could make this right, and it’s so frustrating to see this gem of daytime in the wrong hands.


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 I do with Sharon and Adam. Besides, Nick is a serial cheater. He and Phyllis deserve each other.


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!


Wayne Anderson
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

Breaking News

Matt Cohen Exits General Hospital

Dr. Griffin Munro, the former priest, is departing General Hospital as actor Matt Cohen made the decision to wrap his run on the ABC daytime drama series.

Cohen told TV Insider on his decision, “I did three years at the show. It was a great time and I had great fun playing the character, but I’m a guy who gets uncomfortable when he gets comfortable. I need to give Griffin a little rest right now. I talked to Frank (Valentini, executive producer). We’re leaving it very open-ended.”

The actor is now also focusing on directing and his first short film Mama Bear has been getting a solid response at film festivals

As to if he would return to his role as Griffin ever again, Matt teased: “Maybe I’ll pop into GH every once in a while? That’ll be up to Frank and the writers as to what we do.”

Matt came on to General Hospital back in 2016 and viewers learned that he was the son of Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan), and was put in the orbit and became dear friend of Anna Devane (Finola Hughes), Duke’s true love.  Later, Griffin became romantically involved with Ava Jerome (Maura West) and then her daughter, Kiki (Hayley Erin).

Look for Cohen to exit this Friday on the March 22nd episode of GH.

So, sad to know Matt is leaving GH? Share your thoughts via the comment section below

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Breaking News

LISTEN NOW: Soap Nation Live! with Michael Fairman Daytime Emmy Nominations Special 2019

Tonight on Soap Nation Live! with Michael Fairman,we celebrate the just announced 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Nominations with our sixth annual broadcast.

Join Michael and his in-studio co-host Days of our Lives‘ Arianne Zucker (Nicole) for our 90 minute plus Daytime Emmy Nominations spectacular as we chat it up with some of the actors who will be going for gold on Emmy night on Sunday, May 5th.

Arianne and Michael will be joined by NATAS Senior VP Daytime Emmy Awards, David Michaels who will be on hand to offer commentary on the Emmy voting and more.

Listen in as we welcome nominees: Tyler Christopher, Peter Bergman, Beth Maitland, Marci Miller, Maura West, Laura Wright, Chloe Lanier, Billy Flynn, Brytin James, Eric Martsolf, Martha Madison and many more!

Make sure to also listen for our Daytime Emmy trivia game show segment, when two callesr can win a pair of VIP tickets to the upcoming Coastal Entertainment,”Teals Got Talent”; the upcoming GH Fantasy Event, this time in Philadelphia on May 4th to benefit the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation,

To call-in and share your thoughts on the nominations of who got in, and who was snubbed and more, or to pose a question or a comment to any of our guests, dial the exclusive listener-line at 818-295-2130

This special live-stream begins at 7PMPST/10PMEST.  You can also head on over to Soap Nation’s Live official show page at  if you have any trouble listening to the show here.

If you are tuning in shortly before 7PMPST, you will hear some musical interludes before we go live for showtime.  We hope you enjoy the show.

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Breaking News

46th Annual Daytime Emmy Nominations Announced: Days of our Lives Leads With 27

The nominations have just been announced by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) nominees for the 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.  And it was NBC’s Days of our Lives which led the pack in total nods with 27.  In second was ABC’s General Hospital with 25.  However, CBS led all networks with 65 nominations in all.

This year’s ceremony will be held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Sunday, May 5, 2019.  The Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards will also be held at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Friday, May 3, 2019.

The Daytime Emmy Awards recognize outstanding achievement in all fields of daytime television production and are presented to individuals and programs broadcast from 2:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. during the 2018 calendar year.

“We are very excited today to announce the nominees for the 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards,” said, Adam Sharp, President & CEO of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS). “We look forward to a grand celebration honoring the best of Daytime television both in front of the camera and behind as we return for the third year in a row to the classic Pasadena Civic Auditorium.”

“The incredible level of talent and craft reflected in our nominees continues to show the growing impact of Daytime television and the incredible diversity of programming the viewing audience has to choose from,” said, Executive Director, Daytime, Brent Stanton. “With the help of some outstanding new additions to our staff, Rachel Schwartz and Lisa Armstrong, and the continued support of Luke Smith and Christine Chin, we have handled another record-breaking number of entries this year. Many thanks to our hundreds of great judges, who through their hard work and dedication, have come up with a stellar list of nominees that exemplfy the best in Daytime!”

The 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards is a presentation of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Both of this year’s show will be led by Executive Producer, David Michaels, SVP, Daytime (NATAS) and Executive Producer, David Parks, Ignition Entertainment.

Congrats to all the nominees and now here who is in the running for Emmy gold in major performer and show categories, and creative categories, below.

Outstanding Drama Series

The Bold and the Beautiful

Days of Our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless

Photo: ABC

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Marci Miller, Days of our Lives

Heather Tom, The Bold and the Beautiful

Maura West, General Hospital

Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, The Bold and the Beautiful

Laura Wright,  General Hospital

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Maurice Benard, General Hospital

Peter Bergman,  The Young and the Restless

Tyler Christopher, Days of our Lives

Billy Flynn,  Days of our Lives

Jon Lindstrom,  General Hospital

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Kassie DePaiva,  Days of our Lives

Linsey Godfrey,  Days of our Lives

Martha Madison,  Days of our Lives

Beth Maitland,  The Young and the Restless

Mishael Morgan,  The Young and the Restless

Vernee Watson,  General Hospital

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Max Gail,  General Hospital

Bryton James,  The Young and the Restless

Eric Martsolf,  Days of our Lives

Greg Rikaart,  Days of our Lives

Dominic Zamprogna,  General Hospital

Photo: JPI Studops

Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series

Hayley Erin,  General Hospital

Olivia Rose Keegan,  Days of our Lives

Victoria Konefal, Days of our Lives

Chloe Lanier,  General Hospital

Eden McCoy, General Hospital

Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series

Lucas Adams, Days of our Lives

William Lipton,  General Hospital

Kyler Pettis, Days of our Lives

Garren Stitt, General Hospital

Zach Tinker, The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series

Philip Anthony-Rodriguez,  Days of our Lives

Patricia Bethune, General Hospital

Wayne Brady, The Bold and the Beautiful

Kate Mansi,  Days of our Lives

Thaao Penghlis, Days of our Lives

Outstanding Digital Daytime Drama Series

After Forever

The Bay The Series


The New 30

Youth & Consequences

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Digital Daytime Drama Series

Jade Harlow, The Bay The Series

Vanessa Baden Kelly, Giants

Liana Liberato,  Light as a Feather

Shanti Lowry, Bronx SIU

Liz Vassey,  Riley Parra

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Digital Daytime Drama Series

Mitchell Anderson,  After Forever

Kristos Andrews, The Bay The Series

Kevin Spirtas,  After Forever

Brian White, Bronx SIU

Wayne Wilcox,  Only Children

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Outstanding Writing Team for a Drama Series

The Bold and the Beautiful

Days of our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless                                                                                                                    

Outstanding Directing Team for a Drama Series

Days of our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless                                                                                                                 

Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series

Days of our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless               

Photo Credit: JPI Studios


Outstanding Art Direction/Set Direction/Scenic Design for a Drama Series

Days of our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless                                                                                                                 

Outstanding Lighting Direction for a Drama Series

Days of our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless

Outstanding Technical Team for a Drama Series

The Bold and the Beautiful

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless                                 

Photo Credit: JPI Studios


Outstanding Multiple Camera Editing for a Drama Series

Days of our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless                                                                                                                     

Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound Mixing for a Drama Series

The Bold and the Beautiful

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless                                                                                                                    

Outstanding Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series

Days of our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless                                      

Photo Credit: JPI Studios


Outstanding Costume Design for a Drama Series

The Bold and the Beautiful

Days of our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless                                                                                                                     

Outstanding Hairstyling for a Drama Series

The Bold and the Beautiful

Days of our Lives

The Young and the Restless

Outstanding Makeup for a Drama Series

The Bold and the Beautiful

Days of our Lives

General Hospital

The Young and the Restless

Outstanding Game Show

Family Feud


Let’s Make a Deal

The Price Is Right

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire                     

Photo Credit: JPI Studios


Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Program

Couples Court with the Cutlers

Judge Judy

Judge Mathis

Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court

The People’s Court

Outstanding Informative Talk Show

Access Live

The Dr. Oz Show

Rachael Ray

Red Table Talk

Today Show with Kathie Lee & Hoda

Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

A Little Help with Carol Burnett

The Real

The Talk

The View

Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host

Kelly Ripa, Ryan Seacrest LIVE with Kelly and Ryan

Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai, Tamera Mowry-Housley, The Real

Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood, Eve, Carrie Ann Inaba, Julie Chen, The Talk

Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Meghan McCain, Abby Huntsman, Sara Haines, The View
Wendy Williams, The Wendy Williams Show

Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host

Dr. Mehmet Oz, The Dr. Oz Show

Kellie Pickler Pickler and Ben

Steve Harvey, Steve

Rachael Ray, Rachael Ray Show

Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Today Show with Kathie Lee & Hoda

For the complete list of Emmy nominations in all categories click here.

So, what did you think of this year’s Daytime Emmy Nominations? Did your favorites get in? Who do you think got snubbed? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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GH icon Genie Francis chats with Michael Fairman about her return to the soap as Laura after being taken off-contract earlier this year. Leave A Comment

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Power Performance

Kate Mansi as Abigail

Days of our Lives