My First Set Visit: B&B

One of the disadvantages to soaps being shot on two coasts is that New York soap journalists don’t often get to see California actors! Having covered BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL for almost a year now, I recently got my first chance to visit the show’s studio in Los Angeles.

Publicists Eva Demirjian and Jennifer Mulhall gave me the “grand tour” of the show’s digs at CBS Television City, and introduced me to some of my frequent phone buddies in the cast — which began before we even broached B&B’s inner sanctum! YOUNG AND RESTLESS’ Jeanne Cooper (Kay) was on her way out after a day’s work and stopped in the hallway to chat. After we congratulated her on her recent AMEE Award from AFTRA, she talked about filming with Jess Walton (Jill). Then, Alley Mills (Pam, B&B), who had never actually met Cooper before, stopped to introduce herself. It’s always fun to watch actors have those kinds of moments! After Cooper went on her way, Alley and I had our own moment. Pam’s had a lot of story lately, so Alley and I get to chat quite a bit. It was nice to finally see her in person. She offered a friendly hug — and I have to tell you how un-Pamlike she looked in her casual jeans and white, tunic-y top! Still standing in the hall, we encountered Heather Tom (Katie) on her way out, and she revealed she’s headed to New York this week. (I also had massive envy for her cute, tailored and belted suit dress.)

We probably could have stood there all afternoon and run into everyone, but fortunately, we did actually get farther than the hall. The next stop on the tour was the offices of head writer/executive producer Bradley Bell and senior producer Ron Weaver — both of whom I got to meet. I couldn’t help but praise B&B to both of them, noting how much I enjoy covering the series for Weekly and watching the show daily.

After that, we headed toward the set, encountering Jennifer Gareis (Donna) by the elevators. She was a little worried about the short puff sleeves of the flowy blue blouse she’d been wearing in her scenes looking a little off, but we assured her they were fine, and admired her accessories, to boot! (If you can imagine, I had just spent five hours on a plane and felt decidedly wilted next to the incredibly well put-together cast members we were running into.)
We passed the edges of THE PRICE IS RIGHT’s set, and Jennifer and Eva noted that the wide hallway we were walking down was where they often wheeled the new cars the show gives away as prizes. On our way into the set, where filming was in progress, we spotted John McCook (Eric), who rushed over when Eva introduced me as being Mala from Weekly. Donna’s “Honey Bear” swept me into a big bear hug and was then swept away himself for some international press.

Heading into the set, I passed various Forrester and Jackie M offices — you’ll be surprised to know that the corporate rivals are right across from each other — and ran into Drew Tyler Bell (Thomas), whom I’d just interviewed on the phone about Thomas being Rick’s attacker. Puzzled by my sudden appearance in L.A. a scant few days later, he was all, “Wait, I thought you were in New York?”

Well, I was!

After peeking in at Ridge’s office and the Forrester Creations reception area and even getting a gander at a new set (Not telling you what!), we watched Drew, Ronn Moss (Ridge), Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke) and Hunter Tylo (Taylor) film a scene. SPOILER ALERT: Ridge was wearing jeans. Must’ve been Casual Friday!

Speaking of casual vs. formal wear, after popping into the production booth to meet supervising producer Rhonda Friedman and her team and visiting hair and makeup, one of the last stops on my B&B tour was into wardrobe. There, I got to meet the “real” Eric Forrester: B&B’s costume designer, Birgit Muller. The woman behind all those fabulous Forrester designs took me back to the clothes racks (and the shoes!), where a huge array of wedding dresses hangs from the ceiling. “Most of them are Brooke’s,” she laughed, before giving me a sneak peek at an utterly gorgeous soon-to-debut Forrester gown.

After that, it was time to wrap up the tour, and I said my goodbyes to my gracious hosts, Eva and Jennifer — who sent me off with a few B&B-themed goodies to commemorate my trip.

I did have one last sighting on my way out: Y&R’s Adrienne Frantz (Amber) rushing off after a day’s filming. As for grappling with someone on the Forrester Sky Lounge and catching up with yet more B&B cast members, that’ll have to wait for my next visit!

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