ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Soap opera’s kisses outwit virus with tests, spouses, dolls

Jul 10, 2020, 5:36 AM
This 2017 image released by CBS shows Joshua Morrow, left, and Melissa Claire Egan in a scene from ...
This 2017 image released by CBS shows Joshua Morrow, left, and Melissa Claire Egan in a scene from the daytime drama "The Young and the Restless." The series is scheduled to go back into production next week after halting due to the coronavirus epidemic. (Johnny Vy/CBS via AP)
(Johnny Vy/CBS via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood’s technical expertise can awe us with monsters and imaginary worlds. But is it capable of delivering a simple screen kiss during a pandemic marked by masks and social distancing?

Yes, according to the soap opera producer who is making that happen with a strategic approach to romance. “The Bold and the Beautiful,” in the vanguard of TV series that have resumed taping after an industry-wide shutdown in March, is relying on health advisers and coronavirus safeguards to bring cast and crew together.

There’s also ingenuity involved, which includes employing actors’ real-life partners as smooching stand-ins and, for more limited purposes, using a mannequin to eliminate the risk of breaching a co-star’s infection safety zone.

“We feel almost like television pioneers all these years later because we’re the first ones out, blazing new ways of producing the shows with the current safety standards, and we’re getting the job done. It’s very exciting,” said Bradley Bell, executive producer of CBS’ “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which debuted in 1987 and is at roughly 8,300 episodes and counting.

Denise Richards, who plays Shauna Fulton, said she was excited to be back at work and pleased with the protective measures in place for the soap opera that, true to form, includes “a lot of love scenes.”

When “The Bold and the Beautiful” scripts written pre-coronavirus were reviewed in preparation for the new normal of production, the clinches initially were dropped. That was the cue for Hollywood creativity.

The solution: A carefully remote actor recites lines as their on-camera scene partner responds in a “low, intimate voice” and engages in “beautiful, yearning eye contact” with an off-camera doll, Bell said.

“But the fact is they’re all alone on the stage, making television magic,” he said, with dramatic flair.

One of the stand-ins is a mannequin relegated to the prop room some 15 years ago after starring in a cemetery scene about the faked death of character Taylor Hayes (Hunter Tylo). The other is a life-sized doll with no known TV credits.

But what about the payoff, the embrace and heart-stopping lip-lock? That’s where actors’ partners come in, which recently included cast member Katrina Bowden’s husband, musician Ben Jorgensen.

When Bowden’s Flo Fulton (daughter to Richard’s Shauna) is kidnapped and chained to a radiator, it’s co-star Darin Brooks, as Wyatt Spencer, who comes to the rescue.

“It really called for a big embrace and a kiss,” Bell said. “So once she was freed, we stopped tape, Katrina’s husband came in and they finished the scene. We see the back of his head, and I think it’s very convincing it’s really Darin.”

Richards was looking forward to taping a love scene with her husband, Aaron Phypers, standing in for co-star Thorsten Kaye’s character, Ridge Forrester.

“The Bold and the Beautiful,” which had never before halted production, remains among the TV and movie outliers in getting back to work.

The industry’s reboot has been “gradual and cautious” since state and local bans were lifted in June, the Los Angeles film office for location shooting, said Wednesday. The office, FilmLA, has tallied about 14 permit applications daily since its June 19 reopening, about 20% of what would be received in a typical period.

Among the other network serials, CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” plans to resume production next week, NBC’s “Days of our Lives” is targeting September, and ABC’s “General Hospital” has yet to announce a date. Prime-time shows also are in limbo, including those intended for the fall season. In the UK, the soap “Emmerdale” resumed filming last month.

The “learning curve” is steep, said Ken Corday, executive producer of “Days of our Lives,” which has been airing since 1965 and has efficiency down pat. When the shutdown occurred, the serial had enough banked new episodes to air through October.

Before the pandemic, “we were producing eight, one-hour episodes a week. That’s basically 40 or 50 scenes a day,” Corday said. “That’s going to be basically impossible to reopen, so to speak, at that pace. We’re going to have to be more careful. So will there be five shows a week, or more? Yet to be determined.”

It will certainly cost more, he said. Preventing the disease’s spread is labor and time intensive, as “The Bold and the Beautiful” is demonstrating.

Cast and crew are tested weekly for coronavirus, with temperatures taken daily when they arrive at the studio and again on the set. They answer health screening questions and are given a mask and sometimes a face shield, along with a small bin for scripts, water and hair and makeup brushes to be kept from contact with others.

A designated coronavirus coordinator is tasked with overseeing the production, including keeping people safely separated, masks or not. An initial testing glitch, which resulted in a high rate of inconclusive results, forced a production pause and revised procedures.

So far, all cast and crew have tested negative, Bell said.

Reel Health, which launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to serve the entertainment industry, hires medically trained workers to monitor sets and enforce protocols developed by a company epidemiologist and in accordance with industry and government standards, said Mario Ramirez, president and CEO.

“You need to be able to make sure that everyone entering the site, first and foremost, is healthy,” and that safeguards can keep a production running, Ramirez said.

Finding ways to put romance on the screen is inevitable and necessary, said Alicia Rodis, a veteran intimacy coordinator who helped the actors guild develop guidelines for taping scenes of romance and simulated sex.

“At the end of the day, intimacy isn’t going anywhere. Physical intimacy is a part of the human experience,” Rodis said. “And we’re going to have to find a way to be able to continue to tell these stories, even in extraordinary circumstances.”

___

AP writer Alicia Rancilio in New York contributed to this report.

___

Lynn Elber can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Arts + Entertainment

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 03: Grammy trophies sit in the press room during the 64th Annual GRAMMY A...
Marianne Garvey, CNN

How to watch the 2023 Grammy Awards: Time, channels and more

The biggest night in music is here with the 65th Grammy Awards on Sunday. If you want to see Harry Styles, Lizzo and more perform, here's how to tune in.
1 day ago
FILE - Motown's Barrett Strong arrives at the induction ceremony for 35th annual National Academy o...
CNN

Barrett Strong, Motown singer and songwriter, dead at 81

   (CNN) — Barrett Strong, the voice and songwriter behind Motown Records’ first hit, has died, according to a post from The Motown Museum. He was 81. “It is with great sadness that we share the passing of legendary @classicmotown singer and songwriter Barrett Strong. The voice behind @motownrecords’ first hit, the iconic “Money (That’s What […]
7 days ago
January 28 at Uta's Hogle Zoo is its Cats and Cocoa event, where families can learn more about the ...
Waverly Golden

Utah’s Hogle Zoo “Cats and Cocoa” event

January 28 at Uta's Hogle Zoo is its Cats and Cocoa event, where families can learn more about the endangered cats of the zoo.
10 days ago
KSL Newsradio's Park City correspondent Joe Davis says Slamdance showcases important independent fi...
Mark Jackson

The Slamdance Film Festival; a fun, quirky alternative to Sundance

The Slamdance Film Festival offers an alternative to the Sundance Film Festival. The event screens movies through Jan 26.
12 days ago
Senator Mike Lee is among those working on an amendment to protect religious liberties in The Respe...
Aimee Cobabe

Sen. Lee quotes Taylor Swift lyrics during Ticket Master/Live Nation hearing

Who knew Sen. Mike Lee is a swiftie? The senator quoted Taylor Swift lyrics multiple times at a senate committee hearing Tuesday.
13 days ago
After causing outrage by making over the Green M&M and launching a special bag featuring its new Pu...
Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN

M&M benches spokescandies for Maya Rudolph

After causing outrage by making over the Green M&M, M&M'S says it is taking a step back from its candy reps.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Soap opera’s kisses outwit virus with tests, spouses, dolls