With B&B returning to the air today, Executive Producer/Head Writer Brad Bell outlines his plan for how the show is taking all of the precautions necessary to resume filming.
B&B is back in production, and Executive Producer/ Head Writer Bradley Bell reports that it’s so far, so good. “It’s going well,” says the exec. “It’s so exciting to be onstage. It feels very different in many respects. There are fewer people onstage. Everyone, of course, is wearing masks and washing hands and social distancing. It’s a new and exciting challenge that I never thought we’d face, mostly for our directors to create a sense of proximity and intimacy while the actors are across the set from one another. It’s a challenge, but our directing team is amazing and they’re pulling off quite a few different tricks.”
The show plans to use actors’ spouses as stand- ins for their scene partners. “They’re body doubles that we’re using in the intimate scenes, in hospitals and wherever people are close to one another,” Bell explains. “Very often we’re shooting one actor alone with the double. And then we shoot one side of the scene and then we take that actor out and bring the other side in. When you edit it together it’s very effective.”
Katrina Bowden’s (Flo) hubby, Ben Jorgensen, has already been put to work. “He was great,” praises Bell. “He is very close to the same build, same hair color and look as Darin Brooks [Wyatt]. When you dress him up in matching wardrobe and shoot over his back shoulder, it’s virtually impossible to tell them apart. You’ll never know the difference.”
Reports of the show utilizing blow-up dolls during intimate scenes got a lot of pickup in the press and on social media. “I didn’t quite expect the reaction,” Bell admits. “They’re all kind of innocent tricks of the trade. We’re doing the [doll] body doubles as basically props to get that proximity that we need.” The show already had some stored from past use. “Well, we’ve had a few over the years,” Bell reveals. “There have been stories in the past that we’ve made them. We keep everything over there at TV City. We dug them out and put them back to use and then we bought a few other ones that are readily available.”
Story-wise, Bell is excited to get new tales in motion. “I wrote 50 or so episodes while we were down with Michael Minnis [co-head writer] and my team,” he relays. “More than that, we’ve had this time to really contemplate these stories and map them out, the arcs from beginning, middle and end, planning the tender moments, the twists, the cliffhangers, the surprises…. So it’s wonderful to have this kind of clarity going into it. I think you’re going to see, in this summer and next fall, some of our best stories unfolding.”
Overall, Bell has a positive feeling about the future, despite the problems the pandemic poses. “We’re [coronavirus] testing every week,” he says. “We’re resuming our full schedule. We feel like we’re television pioneers all over again, which is a great feeling. There’s an energy on the stage that we can do this and we can be safe and that life goes on and soaps go on. To be the first one back, there’s an added sense of responsibility, but we’re determined to make it work and make it work safely and successfully. The mood is great even before the Emmy wins. The team is enthusiastic. It feels very good.”