Bradley Bell - The Creative Talent Behind "The Bold and The Beautiful"
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - theirEarth's Christopher Wheat spoke with Bradley Phillip Bell, the Executive Producer and Head Writer of the television series "The Bold and The Beautiful" last week at the 2009 Monte-Carlo Television Festival. Bell's television series, "The Bold and The Beautiful", is broadcast in over 130 countries, and last week at the 49th Monte-Carlo TV Festival won the Golden Nymph International Audience Award for a daytime soap series by having an incredible 24.5 million regular viewers.
Bradley Bell brings his family's heritage to the "Bold and the Beautiful" as it was his father and mother, William J. and Lee Phillip Bell, who created the hit television series "The Young and The Restless" back in 1973. Brad's parents produced this series under their company Bell-Phillip Television Productions, and then in 1987 they expanded with a second successful series called "The Bold and The Beautiful". Unfortunately for the Bell family, Brad's father William J., passed away in April 2005, which was a huge loss, but his mother, Lee, still continues today as a driving force behind the cohesive success of the family.
Today, Bell-Phillip Television Productions produces the world's two most popular daytime television series - "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and The Beautiful", and it is Bradley Bell, along with his brother William James Bell, and their sister Lauralee Bell Martin who continue the creative traditions established by their parents in the company. Bradley Bell is unique in television in that he holds the positions of Head Writer and Executive Producer on "The Bold and The Beautiful" series. This makes Brad the creative core behind the writing of each script on the series, and hence he determines the destiny that each of his character's lives take on the show. The Bell family is originally from Chicago, but when Brad's parents decided to start "Bold", they all moved to Los Angeles to be close to the central theme of the show for filming - that is the glamorous and sexy lifestyle of Beverly Hills, California.
As you sit down and talk to Brad you get the sense that half of him is talking to you, and the other half of his creative genius is working in the background directing the next steps of the lives of each of his characters for future episodes. He became Head Writer of the "Bold and The Beautiful" in 1993 and then Executive Producer in December 1995. The four central characters of the series - Stephanie, Eric, Brooke and Ridge, played by Susan Flannery, John McCook, Kelly Lang, and Ronn Moss, are actors and actresses that have been with the series for more than twenty years, so for Brad everyone is really part of an extended family.
Chatting with Bradley Bell is a pleasure as he draws you into the lives of each of the shows characters and some of the ideas he has for what their future lives could entail. Bell has been the man behind the creativity and success of "The Bold and The Beautiful" series since the filming of episode 1 in 1987. To help him with his writing detail and episode plots, Bell keeps a profile map and photograph of each of his characters on his office wall, so that he can go over and stand beside each to help inspire himself with new twists and angles to the continuity of each character's life, and enhance their appeal to his viewers.
For Bell, "The Bold and The Beautiful" characters live in his mind each day from the moment he wakes up to the time he goes to bed at night. If he sees or hears something around him in his everyday life, he will often write it down on a piece of paper, so that the scene can become part of a future episode script. "The Bold and The Beautiful" has been filmed for the last twenty years on Stage 31 at CBS Television City in Hollywood, so just being in the Hollywood area gives Brad ample real life gossip and scenarios to transform into the fictional lives of his characters on the series.
Bell is also a producer of feature films, and he is currently producing a movie for 2010 called "God Is A Bullet" along with Daniel Bobker, who co-wrote the screenplay for the 2009 movie "Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen". Bell likes to keep his ideas young, and he has recently taken up the sport of surfing, and enjoys other sports like tennis, and skiing. He is also very keen on seeing different parts of the world and their cultures. Whilst travelling, his creative mind is always absorbing the scenery and people, and surely some of his time spent in Monte-Carlo for the 2009 49th Television Festival gave him many ideas to inject into future episodes and transfom into the lives of each character on "The Bold and The Beautiful".
Brad and his wife have four children, and the younger Bell's are already showing an interest in television. Two years ago his now 16-year old daughter said that "Bold" needed more real-life action, so Bell viewed his show with the same critical eye of his children and decided that they were right, and he began to freshen-up the sets for his viewers. He also keeps things very interesting for his audience by taking the cast to foreign location shoots for a few weeks each year and integrating this into the episodes.
When we spoke with"The Bold and The Beautiful" actor Ronn Moss (Ridge Forrester) and actress Ashley Jones (Bridget Forrester) last week at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival, both reiterated how fortunate they were to be part of the performing family that makes up "The Bold and The Beautiful" cast, and Brad says to us that he works very hard to maintain this type of professional working atmosphere on the series.
"The Bold and The Beautiful" is definetly a worldwide commercial venture, and Bell says that sometimes when contract negotiations don't work out with an actor or actress, he has to kill-off their character in the script. Then there are times, he says, he realizes that he has made an error in judgement, so the character is all of a sudden back to life again, along with the actor or actress, after suffering an incredible near-death experience in a subsequent episode. An unfortunate reality for the actors and actresses on the series, is that when a character dies, Bell says the show usually has its highest ratings. This is because the drama that both builds up to and follows a traumatic event on the show becomes a high source of interest for the worldwide television audience that watches the series.
Sitting with Bradley Bell and discussing the creative aspects of his show is an experience in itself. He is very open to discuss the methods he uses to make the world's most popular daytime television production, and to see him develop ideas, reflect on how he develops the lives of each of character, and to observe the enthusiasm he has for his work is inspiring. He speaks of his actors and actresses on the show as artists, but in Bradley Bell you can watch over twenty years of creative expertise come alive before your eyes, which is not an experience you get to take part in too often.
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