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?
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.
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?
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.
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.