The Bold and The Beautiful is the first scripted network television show to resume production in Los Angeles since the coronavirus pandemic brought the Hollywood industry to a halt three months ago. A very delicate comeback for a show dependent upon romantic storylines served up in steamy close-ups. After trying to mute intimate encounters, writers and producers understood quickly that the show would not be the same.
To be able to please their fans but restart production safely, Bradley Bell, executive producer and head writer of The Bold and The Beautiful, is now using a bit of creative work and the magic of editing. In what could serve as a template for how other TV shows and movies approach production, Bell tells us how his team had to figure out how to keep the romance alive while the show had to resume with significant safeguards in place.
What do you think about this return?
It took months of groundwork by our producing team to get to this point. We consulted with governments, unions, and health care experts, and then worked with our broadcast network, CBS, and our studio, Television City Studios, to create a 50-page document outlining in great detail the protocols and procedures that will protect the health of our cast and crew.
Do you think the return of The Bold and The Beautiful will push other TV shows to do the same soon?
Yes. It’s exciting to be the first dramatic production back filming, but it also carried the added responsibility that we get it right and, above all, keep everyone safe. Other producers and networks have contacted us for guidance and will soon follow our lead back into production.
What are exactly the new rules and new securities measures on the set?
Adjustments had to be made at every stage of production. Scripts are written in a way that will limit risk. Scenes will be directed using special effects. In the final cut, actors will appear closer together than they really were. Cast will have to stay eight feet away from each other, even during filming. Cast and crew must all be tested before return to work, and there will be an ongoing testing strategy. We hired a Health Safety Team to monitor the implementation of the protocols. The studio is divided into zones for cast and crew, and the lines can’t be crossed. This offers actors the highest level of protection since they will take their masks off for filming scenes. Everyone in all zones will wear masks, and those who work closest with actors will wear the best available PPE. Crew size will be reduced for now, and all props and tools will be disinfected constantly. Casting will be done by video call technology. And handwashing stations and sanitizer will be everywhere. We can’t have buffets or common meal or snack areas.
How will you do for intimate scenes in the social distancing era?
We’re using some of the actors’ spouses and significant others as kissing doubles and we’ll also be using blow-up dolls!