With a two-year pickup and plans in place for production, Executive Producer/Head Writer Bradley Bell has a lot of hope for the future of B&B
Soap Opera Digest: CBS recently announced some wonderful news, that B&B has been picked up until 2022. Congratulations!
Bradley Bell: Well, it’s always wonderful to get a pickup. A multiyear pickup is fantastic. We’re thrilled. We’ve loved our relationship with CBS all these years. We’re really feeling that we have a great cast and a great team. The writers are charged up. We’re looking to produce, hopefully, the best years of the series.
Digest: Does it help you to know that it’s a multiyear pickup when you’re planning ahead with the story you want to tell?
Bell: I think it does. We go under the assumption that the show will go on, but knowing that we have all this time really frees our mind and it takes that component out of the equation. We’re just going to let it rip and have some fun.
Digest: How have you been doing during the past few months of sheltering in place?
Bell: The writers and I have been working a lot. It’s kind of strange to have almost unlimited time to write these episodes because you can rethink them and you have more time so you can define the characters more, refine the story more. You can also have, in a way, too much time because you can think things to death. Soap operas, as a genre, have just kind of always been fly by the seat of your pants. We’re just eager to get back into production. We’re going to be cranking out as many shows as we can as quickly as we can. We definitely have a stockpile of scripts to draw from now. We have a few new characters com- ing aboard. You know, having all this time to name a character … you come up with 100 different names. And then you think, “Maybe this one is better,” or “Maybe we can tie it into this family.” It’s really a great luxury more than anything else.
Digest: How have you been keeping in touch with the cast and your writers and the crew?
Bell: We’ve been Zooming. We’ve been getting on Zoom calls on Fridays, very often with a glass of wine in hand. We’ve been communicating through memos. I’ve been telling them our target work date, which began, I think, early May and then mid-May and then June 1st and they keep getting pushed back. I’ve been optimistic through this whole COVID in terms of getting back to work, but I’m feeling still that’s it’s not too far off. I think we’re very close. We’ve been at the studio and we’ve totally revamped the control room and the hair and makeup room. We’ve got plastic dividers up and 6 feet distance between everyone in the booth. We’re going over all the precautions with the studio heads. We feel like we’ve got the ball teed up, we’ve just got to get the green light and off we go. Some parts of the country are almost fully open. There’s risk, I guess, in everything we do every day in life. We just have to see who is comfortable going back. But the overwhelming majority of the BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL team is chomping at the bit to get back.
Digest: Have you watched any of the classic episodes that have been airing?
Bell: Yes, I’ve been watching them. It’s so fun to go back. Oh, my gosh. It’s great to see [the late] Darlene Conley [ex-Sally] and Susan Flannery [ex-Stephanie] and Winsor Harmon [ex-Thorne] and all the classic episodes and the location shoots. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s like a trip down memory lane. We’ve been working with CBS in choosing the episodes. That’s a process, going through 8,000-plus epi- sodes. We know we’re missing some good ones, but we’re really trying to pick ones with some good entertainment.
Digest: Congratulations on all your Emmy nominations. Any you are particularly excited about?
Bell: Well, you know, I have to say all of the actors. Annika Noelle [Hope] had such a big year for us and performed hugely. The baby Beth story was a great one. It was a great, I think, success on many levels. We kind of made history with winning the demo of day- time for the first time in our existence. I’m so thrilled for Annika; she had the lead on the story and just did a brilliant job. It’s great to see that Thorsten [Kaye, Ridge] is nomi- nated. He’s such a fine actor. And Katherine Kelly Lang [Brooke], I mean, she delivers every year. And Heather [Tom, Katie], of course. All of the actor nominations are just so exciting to see.
Digest: You have people represented from all of the big stories that you told.
Bell: Yeah. It’s a very good year looking back. The writers, directors, all of our departments just really brought it last year, so I’m glad to see them recognized.
Digest: How do you feel about the show being back on network and broadcast on CBS?
Bell: I think it’s amazing. I think it’s fantastic. I’ve been hoping for this for years. I think a two-hour broadcast on network television again is fantastic. I’m just thrilled. And to be on CBS makes it all the more special.
Digest: Have you figured out what you’re going to do that night?
Bell: No. We’ve talked about some people gathering — I think people are going to get really creative with it. They’re so creative inherently it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with, what they’re wearing. It won’t be drab and boring. I think everyone is excited. I’m not sure where I’ll be or who I’ll be with. We have time to think about that. I just know it will be a lot of fun.
Digest: Obviously, the show left off with what turned out to be an incredible cliffhanger. First of all, how did you feel about the fact that’s where you were in story — that Flo is knocked out and her body is being dragged out and the last thing we saw was Wyatt reacting to it? You couldn’t have scripted it better if you tried.
Bell: I know! It worked out beautifully. Those guys are doing such a great job with that story. Courtney [Hope, Sally], when we realized her dying story was all a put-on, she played it so beautifully. She really embraced it. She’s a Spectra to the core. Spectras do things like that. So Sally Spectra strikes again! I thought it was a great place to leave it for what I thought was a few weeks. But we’re going to do, I think, a recap episode before we get back into the rotation and just remind people where we were.
Digest: Anything you can tease about what plans you have when you do resume production?
Bell: Well, we have a new actor joining the show, a new character that will be working mostly with Jacqui Wood [Steffy]. We’ve already cast him but we haven’t announced it yet. We’re very excited about that. And a storyline for Steffy that should really be interesting, informative … it’s a bit of an issue storyline. We’re getting back into taking on an issue that’s challenging in America and around the world. We’re looking forward to getting right back into intense drama. It will be different. We have a lot of love stories, but it’s going to be up to the director. There will be no kissing. I think that maybe we’re going to be panning to the fireplace again like we did in the ’70s or doing scrims and seeing their silhouettes. We’ll find ways to make it sexy. But it’s really a great challenge to have.
Digest: Are you going to address the pan- demic on camera?
Bell: My feeling is that there’s been a lot of pandemic coverage. We will make reference to it, but we’re not going to really go deep into the story. We feel like people need a break, an escape to some adventure and romance, and that’s what we’re going to focus on.
Digest: Now that you have had time to reflect on the show and the future, how are you feeling about what’s coming up for B&B?
Bell: I’m enthusiastic because we have this great cast. We’ve got a great story com- ing up for Denise Richards [Shauna] and Rena [Sofer, Quinn] and [Katherine] Kelly [Lang]. We’ve got great stories. Having this time really has given us time to do long-term story arcs and it’s wonderful. I think we’re ready to go like never before. We’re going to have a sensational year.
Digest: Do you have a message for the fans?
Bell: I always want to thank the fans for their incredible dedication to the show. I hope they’ve enjoyed the classic episodes. As eager as they are to have the show on the air, we’re just as eager, if not more, to put the show on. We can’t wait until that opening day, whenever that shall be. Hopefully, in the month of June.
Bell was awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama series and Heather Tom (Katie) won the Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy on Friday night.