"The Bold and the Beautiful" turns 23 years young on Tuesday, March 23, and fans of the hit CBS soap opera can look forward to a whole new generation of conflict between the Forrester and the Logan families, according to executive producer Bradley Bell, who fills ET in on the drama still to come -- and Betty White's Daytime Emmy-nominated role.
ET: What does 23 years mean to you?
Bradley Bell: It is a great feeling. It is a feeling of success. It is so much fun to look at, especially our four original cast members -- John McCook (Eric Forrester), Susan Flannery (Stephanie Forrester), Ronn Moss (Ridge Forrester), and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke Logan) -- we have been together for so long. When we started out in 1987, we were never thinking about the year 2010. It is a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
ET: Especially in this climate in which soaps are being cancelled.
Bradley Bell: Yes. It is amazing that we are the last one to succeed to still be on the air -- [note: "The Bold and the Beautiful" is the youngest of the soaps still on the air] -- the only half-hour show and things are still looking bright for us.
ET: Not only are you a success in the U.S. but you are the most-watched soap in the world. What do you think makes "The Bold and the Beautiful" internationally appealing?
Bradley Bell: I think it has been about the Logans and the Forresters for so long. It has remained focused and consistent on these characters. As difficult as it is to keep them front and center -- Brooke against Stephanie and Taylor and Ridge -- I think it has been a big key to our success that we are presenting the same actors, the same families, while trying to keep the story fresh. When you turn into "B&B," you are going to see your favorite actors. You know the players, whether you like them or not. It is that consistency that we have had with the writing and acting that, I think, has paid off for us.
ET: "The Bold and the Beautiful" is set in the glitzy fashion industry. Is that its appeal, or is it the core families?
Bradley Bell: The strong soaps are the ones with strong families. Recently, we reinvested with the Logan girls: Heather Tom (Katie Logan), Jennifer Garies (Donna Logan Forrester) and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke Logan). Then, we firmed up that family adding Patrick Duffy (Stephen Logan) and Robin Riker (Beth Logan). It feels that the Logans vs. the Forresters is a fresh look at them, even 23 years into it.
ET: Last year you won your first Emmy for Outstanding Daytime Drama. You have been a fan favorite for years, but what was it like to finally be recognized by your peers?
Bradley Bell: It was wonderful. It was a complete shock, having never won before. We always felt that being a half-hour show, we were the underdog. But I was hoping at the end of the program -- we were running out of time -- I was just hoping that they would have time for our clip. I loved our clip. That was my main concern. It wasn't winning, because I didn't think that was possible. It happened and it was wonderful.
My thoughts immediately turned to my father [William Bell, who created both "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful"]. I had sat next to him for many years when he accepted his awards. He taught me everything I knew about writing. It was a moment I shared with him.
ET: Your dad isn't here, but your mom, Lee Phillip Bell [co-creator of "Y&R" and "B&B"] is. What did she say?
Bradley Bell: She said, "If you win, you go up. I am not going up." I said, "Don't worry about it." I won and it was very exciting. I ran up to the stage and she had beaten me there. She was so excited.
ET: Who knew when you cast Betty White that she was going to be one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood. I understand she has been submitted for a Daytime Emmy for her role as Ann Douglas.
Bradley Bell: She is [pre-]nominated for supporting actress. She is really the core character in the shows we submitted. There are scenes where Ann Douglas dies on the beach. They are some of my favorite episodes in the whole series. Now they star the hottest actress in Hollywood. That never happens on a soap opera. She does a great job. She certainly deserves the award for an incredible performance. It is exciting to see Betty with such fanfare.
ET: What are you looking forward to for the future of the show?
Bradley Bell: I think we have some great young actors. It is an exciting time to be looking forward to the next generation. I love the people we are building: Kimberly Matula as Hope Logan, Jacqueline Wood as Steffie, and Zack Conroy as Oliver Summers -- our young triangle. It is exciting to see Brooke and Taylor in the more maternal roles. Brooke has a daughter -- miraculously -- who is sweet and a virgin. She is just a darling; and Taylor has a daughter who is trouble. She knows how to manipulate men and she is very sexual. Go figure. It is so funny to see Brooke champion her daughter; and Taylor, who did everything by the book, have a daughter who is trouble.
ET: You have aged Hope. What kind of feedback are you getting?
Bradley Bell: We had a lot of positive feedback right way. She is an interesting character. She is flawed in that Deacon (Sean Kanan) is her father and she was born out of Brooke's most guarded secret -- that she had an affair with her daughter's husband. It makes Hope a multi-dimensional character. Kim has stepped into the role and she has the most wonderful eyes, genuine delivery and a warmth that made people support her from the very beginning.
"The Bold and the Beautiful" airs weekdays on CBS.