B&B's Joanna Johnson on Her Life Behind the Camera

Joanna Johnson (ex-Caroline/Karen, BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL) returned to her old stomping ground (Ridge and Caroline, anyone?) this week when Karen, Caroline’s twin, showed up for the reading of her father Bill’s will. Although she’ll always think of B&B as family, Johnson’s more comfortable as a producer and writer these days. The first season of HOPE & FAITH — which ran from 2003-’06 and starred Kelly Ripa (ex-Hayley, ALL MY CHILDREN) as Faith, and Faith Ford (ex-Julia, ANOTHER WORLD) as Hope — has just come out on DVD. Johnson shares her memories of the series, which she created and executive-produced.

Soap Opera Weekly: On the DVD, you talk about some of the stunt casting on HOPE & FAITH. Do you have any special favorite guest stars?

Joanna Johnson: I would have to say Robert Wagner (he played their dad, Jack Fairfield, from 2003-’06). I grew up watching him in the movies and on TV. [He told us] that of all the stuff he worked on in his career, this [time on H&F] was the happiest [he’s been]. I thought that was an amazing compliment to everyone’s work on the show.
Weekly: Considering the length and breadth of his résumé, that’s fantastic.

Johnson: I couldn’t believe it. I was blown away, and he is a really special human being; I love him. I loved Jenny McCarthy (who played Mandi Radnor, 2004) — she’s hilarious! When we had Wynonna Judd (who portrayed Cynthia Melville in 2005) on, she was a really good sport, and that was fun. Tony Curtis (Morris, 2004); Regis Philbin (Handsome Hal Halverson, 2003-’06) was a huge guest — talk about another really lovely guy. I wrote him a thank-you note for being on the show, and he wrote me a “thank you for your thank you note” note. Who in the world does that anymore? He was such a great sport and great fun. We [also] had Lynda Carter (Summer Kirkland, 2003) and Clint Black (Randy Richter, 2003). We really loved that aspect of the show — being able to bring people in.

Weekly: How sad was it when it was canceled?

Johnson: I think everybody was sad. I didn’t run the show the last year; I stayed in Los Angeles. For me, I’ve always really preferred the part of the show that was about relationship between the two sisters. You have one sister who was very grounded, and one sister who was very eccentric. And the eccentric one could always pull the grounded one into some crazy shenanigans; to me, that was the formula of the show.
The network would go back and forth on what it thought the show should be. They would say, “Well, [Hope] can’t stay living in the house forever. She’s got to move out and get a job.” I’d say, “Then your show’s gone. The show is that the sister lives in the house and she’s not leaving, and she’s never getting a real job, because she thinks she’s a soap star.”

So, creatively, I decided not to go back to the show, and they took [it] in a little bit of a different direction. I was very sad when it was canceled, but they seemed to be unsure about what the show was, so I wasn’t surprised. Having said that, I do have to say they gave me a great opportunity. ABC Studios and I have a great relationship, and I really like them. But at the end of the day, it’s their show — they own [it]. If they’re gracious enough to let you put a show on the air, they have a right to do what they want. That’s the business.

Weekly: So what’s next?

Johnson: I’m working on a couple of things. I’m writing a comedy for Lifetime called BAD BRIDESMAIDS. I’m the co-executive producer on an ABC Family show that’s coming out in June; right now, it’s called PERFECT 10. It’s about teenage girls who work out in an elite gymnastic gym — and they’re headed for the Olympics.

Weekly: Sounds like a 10 to us.

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