Since B&B’s official fan club luncheon happens every other year, you can bet that the anticipation level is high every time this event comes around. This year was no exception as B&B stars and fans converged on a hot and sultry (is there any other kind for soaps?) afternoon at the Sheraton Universal Hotel in Los Angeles. An hour before the festivities kicked off at noon in the hotel’s grand ballroom, members of the press were graciously invited to sneak into a private room and chat with the actors. Throughout the year, I usually interview the B&B actors over the phone or at the studios in their dressing room but rarely see so many of them in one place outside of the Daytime Emmys. So color me thrilled that for 60 minutes, I basically had my choice of who to talk to. Talk about shooting fish in a barrel.
So, there I schmoozed with daytime luminaries John McCook (Eric), Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke), Patrick Duffy (Stephen), Jennifer Gareis (Donna), Jack Wagner (Nick), Robin Riker (Beth), Heather Tom (Katie) and Don Diamont (Bill). “This is my first B&B fan event so I’m really excited,” Brandon Beemer (Owen) admitted to me. There were many more actors to converse with but, dang!, that hour went by quickly and it was time for the luncheon to begin.
After checking in and obtaining the all-important purple wristband, I entered the ballroom, where the excitement was palpable. On round tables with elegant tablecloths, a small plate of assorted salad greens was already waiting at each place setting.
While nibbling on the first course, John took the stage and welcomed everybody, which not only included fans from around the country, but from around the globe as well. Our venerable host then introduced each one of his co-stars to thunderous applause and cheers (and some screams).
A nice giggle-inducer was how each actor got their own appropriate theme song. For instance, Rick Hearst (Whip) made his entrance while Devo‘s “Whip It” played while “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley blared on the PA system for Alley Mills (Pam). The audience really enjoyed when THE PRICE IS RIGHT theme song was played for Jennifer Gareis (Donna), who was temporarily blocked from waking on stage by a menacing-looking Alley.
“The only satisfaction I get that I’m doing a good job is from you guys,” Lesli Kay (Felicia) declared to the crowd when it was her turn to come out.
Once everyone was on stage, it was time time to gobble up lunch. The yummy menu featured roasted chicken, scalloped potatoes and grilled veggies. After, Alley gleefully announced that she was responsible for dessert. “I hope you all enjoy it,” she cackled.
Imagine our surprise when the waiters served lemon bars (Pamela’s specialty) that each sported a mini flag with Mills’s face on it. Brill!
We were also treated to two side-splitting videos. The first was a “hard-hitting” investigative report put together by Executive Producer/Head Writer Brad Bell and Associate Producer Casey Kasprzyk. In it, Ian Buchanan (James) was a dogged reporter determined to find out who was writing for B&B during the last writers’ strike (2007-08). In this spoof, Ian burst through the closed doors of the B&B offices to find adorable twins Amanda and Rachel Pace (who alternately play Brooke’s daughter Hope) busily creating scripts with their crayons! Other cameos included Brad Bell posing as a security guard and hilariously being snubbed by Ronn Moss (Ridge), John cross-dressing in one of Stephanie’s trademark pant suits, Susan Flannery (Stephanie) filling in as a grouchy receptionist and Winsor Harmon (Thorne) trying to repair the copy machine.
The next video was the crowd-pleasing blooper reel which included snippets of the actors stumbling over dialogue, breaking out in laughter in the middle of scenes, tripping and playing practical jokes.
Once lunch and the show concluded, it was then time for the much-loved autograph session. The actors filed into the next room, where they sat at tables and spent the next couple of hours meeting the fans, signing autographs, exchanging hugs and posing for pictures. “I always have a wonderful time with the fans,” beamed Kyle Lowder (Rick) and the feeling was quite mutual.