Young and Restless’ Maria Arena Bell on Late Father-in-Law, Bill Bell: “I Think Even He Would Have Been Rocked By The Message Boards”

The Young and the Restless showrunner Maria Arena Bell admitted in this week's CBS Soaps In Depth that what she sees written about her stint atop Y&R on message boards can be upsetting.

"I know there was a Facebook page dedicated to firing me. I don't live in a bubble. I know all of that's there, and it can be upsetting."


Arena Bell went on to say she follows the advice her late father-in-law, Y&R's creator William J. Bell, gave her about sticking to one's own vision.

"Bill was so focused and so believed in his vision…I think even he would have been rocked by the message boards."

Sigh. Where do I even start with this? First off, yes, the late Bill Bell was reportedly very focused at all of the soaps he wrote for. His daytime dramas were his driving passion. His energies weren't divided between his stories and his work for MOCA or some other charitable cause.

Second, if MAB is going to keep comparing herself to her late father-in-law, she is really gonna have to write at least one story a quarter resembling anything he ever would have put on the air. Thirdly, if it was just the Internet giving MAB a beating over the state of Y&R, it would be one thing. It isn't. The soap magazines and revered, longtime daytime columnists have also taken the show to task.

Personally, I derive no real pleasure in going so hard against MAB here on Daytime Confidential, or on our companion podcast, but she and her co-head writers, Hogan Sheffer and Scott Hamner, have made Y&R a schizophrenic, plot-driven, unwatchable mess. I'd much rather be chanting, "Auntie Ri Ri has turned Y&R around again!" but she has to actually do so for that to happen.

It isn't impossible. We praised MAB during her first year at the soap, because she did things like rebuild the Abbotts, bring back old, familiar faces like Beth Maitland (Tracy) and Tricia Cast (Nina) for visits, etc. But, as I've said ad nauseum, from the moment she was done cleaning up after former showrunner Lynn Marie Latham, and had to begin writing storylines of her own, we've gotten psychotic chipmunks; "So-Long, Sister Killer"; Daisy (Yvonne Zima) wreaking havoc; Sharon (Sharon Case) altered from a classic heroine into an unrootable, pathetic mess; Jack (Peter Bergman) turned into a simpleton; deaths by volcano, and so on and so forth.

We get that MAB believes in her "vision," but if she is truly such a student of the late, great WJB, can she seriously say she believes any of the storylines I just cited were worthy of his legend? Seriously?

For more of SID's Q&A with MAB, pick up their March 12-26 issue.

38 Responses

  1. Profile photo of GHdoolFan

    She cannot compare herself to Bill Bell, but she is 100% right. If there were message boards back then he would have gotten destroyed at times. He was a genius and gave 110% to all of his work, but there would still be a small group on some message board tearing him down. I doubt he would have read or listened to the message boards, but they would still have existed.

  2. Profile photo of Smitty

    Well I know Bill Bell along with the fans would be upset if he saw the current state of Y&R.

    It’s upsetting that we have to sit through the nonsense that she puts on our screen!

  3. Profile photo of Smitty

    MAB is clearly out of touch with what is good for this show. Bill Bell had some mess but the mess never lingered on for three or four years!

    I wish she would just go run MOCA and quit “running” Y&R…

  4. Profile photo of jetty

    She is delusional. Her stories have been horrible. Her best stories haven’t even approached Bill Bell’s worst stories in quality.

  5. Profile photo of CarlyCfan

    [quote=Smitty]MAB is clearly out of touch with what is good for this show. Bill Bell had some mess but the mess never lingered on for three or four years!

    Exactly. Not only her stories are awful but she also doesn’t know when to end them. That Volcano mess lasted A YEAR ffs.

  6. Profile photo of beautreal

    No soap fan wants to take the writer/producer of their soaps to tasks but when they are royally screwing up they can’t expect us not to speak out against them.

    MAB needs to stop comparing herself to Bill Bell Snr and using his name to prop herself up. She will never be able to carry on what he did, Bill Bell would never have allowed things to get this bad. If he felt something wasn’t working he would stop and change it not allow it to continue for another 3 years. Daisy Cater for example if Maria really wants this character she should have recast years ago, Bill Bell recast Sharon 3 times before Sharon Case took over the role. She really has made characters who have been on the show 15+ years become shadows of themselves and unraveled everything Bill Bell Snr spent years constructing.

    Maria needs to learnt hat the show is not just about her and her vision its about the loyal viewers who have stuck with the show some from it’s creation. When your vision isn’t working or being reciprocated by the fans, soap magazines, bloggers ect. maybe it’s time to shake it up and change your vision.

    MAB really needs to decide if she wants to write, produce or be a philanthropist socialite before, she allows the show which at the moment only has at least 2 years left become completely unrecognisable even watchable which it close to being if it’s not already.

    If it wasn’t for the powerhouse cast with the likes of Melody Thomas Scott, Michelle Stafford, Michael Muhney, Jess Walton ect. who knows what this show would really be like.

  7. Profile photo of alstonboy4315

    This heffa is living in a bubble if she thinks that 90% of the bullbleep that she’s been writing for the past 4 years is actually what soap fans WANT to see!!

    Stick to fund raisers and dumpster diving for outfits, trick!

  8. Profile photo of yojoromo4469

    [quote=Smitty]Well I know Bill Bell along with the fans would be upset if he saw the current state of Y&R.

    It’s upsetting that we have to sit through the nonsense that she puts on our screen![/quote]

    Yes, if MAB really reads any of these posts, then she really should be smart enough to do something about the sad state that Y and R is in right now. I really do not believe it is possible for anyone to watch some of the sad, non talented characters that she has on the show and read how bad they are as actors and not do something about it. No one in charge of writing a number one soap should be that ignorant.

  9. Profile photo of Smitty


  10. Profile photo of beautreal


    I couldn’t agree more if any show needs a complete writers/producers shake-up then its Y&R !!

  11. Profile photo of Llanview76

    What were Bill Bell’s worst Y&R storylines? Don’t laugh but I remember in the late 80’s a plot device where somebody stole maid Mamie’s laxative in order to poison somebody else?
    …I can only wonder what product sponsored that episode.

  12. Profile photo of hey mon
    hey mon

    I am a MAB robot…I am a MAB robot…

    No I’m not. Pretty crappy of her to bring up Bill Bell as a type of protection for some of the lousy story-lines she has come up with. The worst of it all — The ethnic stereotyping of the Venezio Clan. The whole Italian mobster ‘thing’ she has going on. LML devastated the Latinos on the show, and MAB has done nothing to bring them back.

    The total re-writes of a lot of what she has done in story-lines. Diane’s murder, ended up being Diane’s attempted murderer of Nikki. The Newman stock sale from last June in which Jack owns all of those shares of Newman, but he never exercises control.

    But lately, things are getting better…

  13. Profile photo of MsAgentProvocateur1

    I am exasperated by this woman, and I as a woman don’t wish to be exasperated on International Women’s Day, but all I ever hear from MAB is defensive posturing in every article and every interview. There comes a time, when a writer must hunker down and make the neccessary changes, even if it means starting over with some storylines or yes, designating someone else to do the creative heavy lifting.

    As show runner MAB gets the final say…so why is she approving this dreck? Like others, I’m upset with the nonsense in this show and I’m haven’t watched in 2 years!

    Yes, I’m sure that the late great Bill Bell Sr. would’ve been criticized for certain characters/storylines but he had many more hits than misses. Even in the midst of the flops, there were other storylines that gave you reason to stay tuned, cheer for certain characters, cherish love stories, anticipate and savor comeuppances & triumphs. Do we have those reasons today? Last time I tuned in, I couldn’t find anyone to even root for, almost every character was barely tolerable. The one or two people that I know who even still keep up with this show, seem to agree that the only thing that this show seems to do well anymore is provide snarky lines for crazy/messed up characters. Not sustaining for me at all.

    I don’t mean to be mean but I’m tired of this woman and her excuses. I’ve had to start from scratch (I once put giant red slashes through 90 percent of a 114 page script! and rewrote a script) so I know personally that if this woman wants to improve the show (& not tank it) she needs to get over herself, and get cracking on some changes.

    In the words of Keenan Thompson’s SNL character, the nervous financial analyst when asked for a comment on the economy just after the Meltdown in 2008…

  14. Profile photo of BFluellen1

    I’m sure that Bill probably would’ve been taken to task for a few of his stories, but his bad stories (which I personally I can’t think of any b/c I enjoyed all of Mr. Bell’s works) are nowhere near the crap that Maria churns out. If she’d stick to Bill’s schema for Y&R along with what the FANS want then she wouldn’t get bashed. It ain’t that hard to do.

  15. Profile photo of MsAgentProvocateur1

    [quote=david46208]@MsAgentProvocateur1: Me and you gonna get together and work on a project. I got the perfect soap opera template that I created some years ago that would work well to create, Even if it was just for fun on the web.[/quote]

    I’m intrigued. Hopefully, I wouldn’t be disappointing. I’ve been focusing on theater and I’d have to put on my TV writer’s cap (that’s if I can find it). I’d be willing to try though.

  16. Profile photo of

    Maria Arena Bell says the following, “I know there was a Facebook page dedicated to firing me. I don’t live in a bubble. I know all of that’s there, and it can be upsetting.”

    THAT PAGE my friends was created by yours truly and my good pal Daphne from San Diego! The fact that she mentioned that page just made me squeal with delight! I called Daphne and told her about it and I had to pull the phone away from my only working ear and she too screamed! She’s going to pick up a few copies of that magazine and send a couple my way too! Maria, thank you for the free publicity! If you want to join our page that is dedicated to getting MAB fired from Y&R, here’s the FB link:

    This news could not have come at a better time. I’ve been down all week with a cold and pretty wiped out too. So, this lifted my spirits big time!

  17. Profile photo of Shopgurl

    I really wish MAB would stop talking to magazine columnist or throwing parties to support President Obama’s campaign but instead sit down in front of some old soap epsoides with a pen and paper and take notes.

    I have given up on Y&R and come to the realization that watching it is a complete waste of time because NOTHING every happens on it that makes any sense. MAB has her characters say things and yet when there should be fallout there isn’t any case in point this mess with Phyllis writing the article about Adam and saying “I want everyone to know I wrote it” and Nick telling Sharon “No one will know about what happend with Adam & Patty” only to have it mean absoultely nothing since Nick & Phyllis stay together. I also HATE how she changes her characters from what we knew them to be, Like Sharon is so man hungary that she would leave Faith to go be with Adam or Phyllis who came to the show a psycho and tried to kill Paul now has morals and is upset with her father for stealing money from older people.

  18. Profile photo of SoapArmageddon

    I’m sure she cares about the show. It’s ridiculous to say she wants it cancelled.

    She just doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. She does not have the talent to be Head-Writer/Executive Producer. And she also needs to stop casting these non-soap people. None of them attracts viewers.

    I wonder how many millions woke up a few weeks ago saying, “Girl, I gotta watch Y&R today ’cause Daisy Duke is gonna be on it.”

  19. Profile photo of Bartman202

    This woman is as f***ing clueless as she is a Head Writer!

    Vision – what vision would that be, Maria – creating one-dimensional, cardboard caricatures I/O mining story ideas from the finely honed, developed characters your Father-In-Law created?!?


  20. Profile photo of Carol2

    Message boards WERE around when Bill Bell wrote for Y&R. They weren’t as prevalent as they are now, but they were around. So were websites like Genoa City News which the show knew about. Bill Bell still managed to write a good quality show. There were dips, but you knew Y&R would always get better. And when Bill Bell wanted to take less responsibility, he gave more control to people like Kay Alden who loved Y&R and wanted it to succeed.

    No one running Y&R today cares about Y&R. MAB cares about publicity. Hogan Sheffer cares about telling the same sick stories he’s told at every soap he’s been on. Scott Hamner cares about finally, after 15 years headwriting soaps, managing to write a not-horrible murder mystery (still waiting).

    I can’t count the number of times MAB has used her father in law as a shield. She was doing this even when the soap press loved her “vision.” It’s tacky as hell.

  21. Profile photo of Camp is not a sustainable model
    Camp is not a sustainable model

    Vision: The manner in which one sees or conceives of something.

    Few writers and EP’s can take a show and completely changed how it was envisioned by the creator and make it work. Trying to recast a show as something other then it was intended to be generally never works and in this case it failed.

    Yes Bill Bell refocused his creation away from the Fosters and the Brooks to the Abbott’s and the Newman’s. Then later added in the Barbara/Winter’s clan. Yet, people like Bell and Agnes Nixon had years…decades of experience working under the master Irna Phillips and each went on to turn soaps on the verge of cancellation around. Agnes did this with Another World and introduced Jamey’s favorite Rachel Cory based off of her character Eric Kane. And in 6 months AW was beating General Hospital in the ratings. Then Bill went on to take an ailing Days Of Our Lives and created a supercouple out of Doug and Julie. He also brought up Days ratings.

    Each of these talents were rewarded with creating daytime drama’s that have or had outlasted most in the industry. So when times of trouble came they both knew how to turn a sinking around before it sank. And eventually knew how to plug a hole before the ship even dropped an inch.

    Great soap writers know how to write long storylines. And that consist of a story bible that generally covers where the stories are going to be headed for the next 2 to 5 years. Sally Sussman Morina wrote a 7 year story bible for Generations and James E. Reilly (wacky as he was) wrote a 5 year story bible for Passions.

    Stories are also supposed to build to something while keeping in-line with who the core of who their characters are. And when you are going to have a character engage in activity and behaviors that are not normal to who they are you have to drive them there over a longer period of time.

    On Days they spent a year and half setting up and moving the story along that would eventually turn good old Lexie into Alexandra Dimera. So when she became a mother desperate to keep her adopted baby, one could believe she would do the things she did.

    Agnes and Bill also kept up with what was going on in the world today. I cannot say enough that they not only knew their audience, but they also knew how to interweave socially relevant stories that both educated and entertained the audience at the same time.

    So to close on a play from scene in Lean On Me

    The aspiring daytime writers: Bell Bill was like a mentor to us who didn’t have one. You don’t know a thing about Bill Bell!

  22. Profile photo of Laurel Twist
    Laurel Twist

    She refers to the Facebook page in past tense. It is still there! Bill Bell, Sr. would have probably been able to go to the message boards as he was talented and capable. Two things MAB is not. She best go find another “vision” as hers is killing the show….simple.

  23. Profile photo of Chilly Fan 25
    Chilly Fan 25

    Difference is that people actually liked Bill Bell’s writing. So no he wouldn’t have been “rocked” by the message boards because there was never so many people who are generally upset with the show.

    And we have every right to be. Characters make zero sense, the storylines are boring, and I can’t even force myself to watch these days.

  24. Profile photo of SoapArmageddon

    [quote=Shopgurl]I really wish MAB would stop….throwing parties to support President Obama’s campaign …….[/quote]

    It’s actually her brother-in-law and his wife that do President Obama fundraisers. If she did, I might actually be able to forgive her for making such a mess of the show.

  25. Profile photo of DaytimeFan0001

    Maria would make a good writer, just not a head writer. I wouldn’t say the show is unwatchable, but in the current climate of daytime soaps, she just can’t keep doing what’s she’s doing and expect to stay alive in the soap game. This show needs long story- and am umbrella story stat.

  26. Profile photo of mafelix86

    Woman, if what the fans have to say about you and your shitty work at Y&R REALLY upsets you, then that right there should be a clue that you’re doing something wrong, DON’T YOU THINK?!

    And trying to compare yourself to Bill Bell is a huge insult to his memory. Yes,not everything he wrote was a slam dunk, but Bill Bell at his WORST is a zillion times better than you at your BEST!!!

    If you want the fans to stop being so vocal and critical of you and Y&R, then you need to fire Hamner and Sheffer. Hire somebody who knows and loves the genre (Lorraine Broderick, Claire Labine)and DO YOUR JOB WELL instead of being out on the town schmoozing with celebrities all the time!!!!

  27. Profile photo of

    You can’t tell me that Maria, Scott and Hogan is in that writers room smoking that ooh wee. These writers have to be high, for the crap they’re writing. Maria needs to get a clue and listen, you can’t write a story to save your life. However she should never compare herself to her father-in-law who was the master at story telling. She’s the master of making things become a hot ass mess!

    My problem with Maria is she got all the praise, the honor, and glory the first year, and I think it went to her head. She got the big head and felt she could be all things, but she has spread herself thin. She at MOCA, she on the red carpet, and she thinks she doing us justice. Maria sit your ass down and let somebody that gives a shit about this show the headwriter job!

    The Bells (along with The Cordays) need to look at their business portfolio and need to expand their offerings. The Bells have;
    Bell Dramatic Serial Company. They need to create a made for television movie division and team up with Hallmark Channel & Lifetime. Maria could write, produce all the movies and cast all her favs from AMC & GH. ( I wonder did she ever love OLTL ;she seems not to get any snatch and grabs from them) While she creating movie of the week; Sony brings back Kay Alden and Jack Smith. Cut the fat from the writers, alot of the younger actors who get on my nerves (Lily/Cane/Angelina/Kevin/Daniel/Dasiy) Im talking about you!

    This show needs a good ole fashion house clean and it starts at the top with Re-Re in that writers room passing the blunt to all the writers. Jess Walton, Melody Scott, and Sharon Case need to be a snitch and tell Sony Maria got weed, or better yet give her a take home drug test! IJS

  28. Profile photo of RebeccaJ

    Sounds great, Bill, but what do you do when your d-i-l’s vision is so blurry she can’t see three feet in front of her face?!

    Apparently she puts great value on her “abilities” if she thinks her vision is on par with Bill Bell’s.

  29. Profile photo of Dyllan

    And it is pretty obvious why Y&R is such a mess. She comes across as so arrogant and she never questions herself or her “vision”. She writes what she finds entertaining. For example, Daisy. AWFUL storyline. Does she drop this storyline? No, she double downs and sticks with this garbage. Its like she is determined to make this crap work because she originally visioned Daisy as the new Sheila. She doesn’t know when to let go of a crappy storyline.

    You know this women is PISSED. She hates the message boards. And there are soap writers who get credit where credit is due (i.e. RC). She’s just a sucky writer. I love how she mentioned the fire MAB thing, LOL

  30. Profile photo of hey mon
    hey mon

    SoapArmageddon — What is sad, is that I actually said to myself and my wife, “Hey, Ken Howard is going to play Phyllis’ Dad. That’ll be some good watching.” Why wouldn’t we all feel that way. The guy has awards, we all remember the TV show, “The White Shadow”. It was good television.

    So MAB & The Gang has him lying in a bed, terminal, grunting every 2 minutes, in between Michelle Stafford’s speeches — which are becoming more numerous by the day. He is on for all of 3 minutes, and MAB has him die. No drama from him, no telling Phyllis off. Nothing. This is what we waited 8 months to see, since the crazy s/l was first brought up when Bobble-head Avery first came to town?

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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