Bon Appétit!

Lauralee Bell (ex-Christine) chats about her latest installment of FAMILY DINNER, the Web series that she writes, directs, stars and, with husband Scott Martin, executive produces. The show follows the disconnected O’Connell family as they interact around the dinner table while being filmed for a fictional reality show.It’s been a while since your last installment of FAMILY DINNER. Will there be anything different this time?
“We’ve stepped it up in terms of, well, everything. First of all, it literally looks different. There is this great digital camera that we’re using now for filming. It’s unbelievable how good the picture quality looks. It really complements the lighting and the editing.”

What else will be different?
“For the first time, we filmed in a public place. We used a restaurant called Cravings [in West Hollywood, CA]. So, the O’Connell family has moved out of the house and Dan Cortese‘s character, John, is mortified to be seen with them in public.”

Did you film while the restaurant was closed?
“No. Customers were there. We got there at10:00 in the morning, started shooting around noon and we were done by 7:00. My friend Shari Wiedmann played the waitress and was so good waitress that a few people kept asking her to get them something.”

Are you looking to use the restaurant setting for other episodes?
“I would love to grab on to a chain of restaurants or switch the location every time. It would be a great promotion for that restaurant because we can do a subtle closeup of the menu.”

You’ve had Cloris Leachman and Phyllis Diller (ex-Gladys, B&B) guest star on previous shows. Will you continue to use cameo appearances?
“We’re taking the show up a notch and having even more guest stars. In fact, for just this episode, we have appearances by Chad Smith, [the drummer] from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jordin Sparks, Richard Marx, Rick Springfield [ex-Noah, GH] and Shirley Jones [ex-Colleen, DAYS].”

Wow! That’s quite a lineup. I’m sensing a theme here since they’re all musicians.
“That’s right. Shirley plays Dr. Jones, a music therapist who tries to help the O’Connells. All the other guest stars appear in fantasies.”

Did everyone show up at the restaurant?
“Just Shirley. She actually flew in from an event she sang at the night before. We had been filming for two and a half hours before she got there. We have this great ability to work around personal schedules by shooting what we can. Since I appeared in a music video with Richard Marx 12 years ago, he let me have it and we re-edited to make it more about me and him. Everyone else filmed their spot at other times. Jordin even did hers from New York. We want to make this as easy as possible for the guest stars.”

There seems to be a great potential for cross promotions and product placement.
“We’re focusing on really marketing this. I want people to fall in love with this stupid family but the show needs to come in under budget so I want us to be an advertiser’s dream. Everyone can promote something. Chad Smith promotes his CD, Jordin Sparks is promotes her perfume and Rick mentions his book so it’s good for them, too.”

Are there more DINNERs to be served?
“Our dream is to make a million FAMILY DINNERs so we’re perfecting as we go. There’s always things to tweak, figure out and make better.”

Does your show have seasons?
“I don’t know how to do seasons yet. I know we could but I’d like to learn from each one and improve before we throw out a bunch just for the sake of doing that. We’ve always shot two shows at a time but this time, we only shot one. I don’t want to make too many in advance because it’s constantly changing and tweaking. I like to put one out and get some feedback, so for now we’ve made just one. Will we make another one before the end of the year? Probably not. Will we after? Yes.

Are you involved with any other projects outside of Y&R?
“I’m also putting something else out that’s totally different. But we’ll talk about that in another month!”

All episodes can be viewed on or