In a year that saw vulgar displays of inmates (read: wannabe diva actresses) running the asylums—not to mention re-writing scripts— while executives worked on their golf games at one soap; ridiculous, costly special effects taking precedence over story, sensible pacing and character at others; and beloved veteran actressess being blacklisted for seeking out better employment opportunities at yet another, one daytime drama rose above the muck to actually provide top notch drama onscreen for a change. That soap opera was Days of Our Lives. Snort. Just kidding. I wanted to make sure you were awake! We all know the soap in question was Guiding Light! Ha, ha, okay I'm killing myself here!
The year's most spectacularly-revitalized daytime soap opera was of course, The Young and the Restless, helmed by the incomparable Maria Arena Bell. Bell proved all it really takes to please the fans is to write a good story, rooted in history, featuring beloved characters, with sexy, talented younger stars tied firmly to the core. No CGI or handy-cams for La Bell, just good-old-fashioned drama. Okay, so the splashy trip to Paree didn't hurt either!
For her efforts, TV Guide Canada's Nelson Branco has named Bell— whom he rightly compares to the late Princess Diana of Wales, in calling her the "People's' Princess"— daytime's Entertainer of the Year. We couldn't agree more. Like Lady Di, Bell isn't soap opera royalty by birth, but she has quickly proven to be the only executive in daytime worthy of wearing her late father-in-law's crown.
Here's what Bell tells Branco about the strategy she employed this past year to fix daytime's number one soap:
I didn’t want to be one of those people who came in and changed direction by forgetting what viewers had experienced onscreen during past regimes. Instead, I felt it was really important to build on what was already here; wrap up stories that were left dangling for too long; and give viewers the satisfaction of a resolution and pay off. After we accomplished that, we moved in a new, fresh direction. But… I had to take that time, so I could organically jell the show in every respect. And I have to say that mantra and evolution really defined our show this past year.
A daytime executive who actually respects her fans? Could there be anything better? Of course there can, two of them. Bell is joined by her co-executive producer, the legendary Paul Rauch, for this can't miss interview with Branco. You won't believe what Rauch says about working with the late Irna Phillips. Read it all here.