Joanna Johnson, Crystal Chappell

Who saw this one coming? Certainly not us! Next month on CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful it will be revealed that Joanna Johnson's character Karen Spencer — known to viewers since 1991 — has been quietly living as a lesbian for years. What's more, Karen is happily married to a luscious lady named Danielle, to be played by Daytime Emmy winner Crystal Chappell. Johnson returns to the show May 16; Chappell arrives May 17. TV Guide Magazine got the exclusive deets on this wild development from exec producer-head writer Bradley Bell.

TV Guide Magazine: Is this seriously the first gay-oriented story ever done in the 25-year history of a show set in the L.A. fashion industry? How can that be?
Bradley Bell: Can that really be true? I don't know, actually. I'm going to get my researcher on that. If there was something done in the past, it certainly wasn't anything huge.

TV Guide Magazine: Tell us about your decision to reveal this secret side of Karen.
Bell: Once we decided to bring Karen's daughter, Caroline, onto the show, the question naturally arose, "Who is the father? Why doesn't she seem to have one?" I started thinking about all the story possibilities and decided, "Why not give her two mothers?" Everyone on the show has a mother and father and that's getting a little dull. So I talked to Joanna Johnson and asked if she'd be okay with this story and she was very excited. When it came to casting Karen's partner, I thought immediately of Crystal Chappell. She was at the top of my list. I called her, she was interested, so here we are. She's a great actress and such a good kisser.

TV Guide Magazine: And you know she's a good kisser because...
Bell: Because I'm a big fan of her web series Venice.

TV Guide Magazine: Does this mean we'll actually see some lesbian lip locks on CBS Daytime?
Bell: Oh, sure! Absolutely.

TV Guide Magazine: Because Crystal wasn't allowed to do that when she played the girl-girl romance on Guiding Light. There was a lot of pinky touching and smouldering glances, but kissing wasn't okay and certainly no sex. It was very 1950s.
Bell: I didn't know that. This happened on CBS? [Laughs] Perhaps I spoke too soon. Nah, Karen and Danielle are a modern married couple, so why wouldn't they kiss? We plan to discuss the real issues, present some prejudices, and try to get people to move forward in their thinking, instead of backward. I want to do this story because I listen to all the political debates on the subject of same-sex marriage and can't believe I share the same country with people who think so differently about human rights. I want to put my hat in the ring and, hopefully, help change some thoughts and opinions on the issue.

TV Guide Magazine: How long has this Karen-Danielle thing been going on?
Bell: A very long time. We're going to see that they have created a wonderful family together, raised a great daughter and have been living a terrific life in New York, completely free about who they are. Well, except for the fact that Karen's brother, Bill, who lives in Los Angeles, has no idea she's a lesbian.

TV Guide Magazine: Why keep it a secret from him if she's living openly? It's 2012! 
Bell: This sort of thing is a big issue for the Spencer men, and Karen just didn't want any negativity from her brother. We'll find out that she got enough of that from her [late] father, Bill Spencer Sr., who knew about her lifestyle and was very against her saying anything about it. He forbade her to bring it into her business life at Spencer Publications, the company that bore his fine name. But Karen will handle her brother in her own way. The reveal will be fun and it will be serious. Karen's [sexuality] is obvious to everyone but Bill. He's never been particularly close to his sister or had much interest in her. [Laughs] He just doesn't understand why she can't seem to get a man.

TV Guide Magazine: If Bill has no interest in Karen, why would she care what he thinks?
Bell: Her attitude has always been, "Why waste my time?" Bill only thinks about Bill, so she has stayed mysterious. Now she's getting sick of that. Bill's reaction will be very interesting. I'm patterning him a little bit after Archie Bunker.

TV Guide Magazine: Is Karen the birth mother of Caroline? 
Bell: Yes. I'm keeping it vague for now just how long Danielle has been in the picture and who Caroline's biological dad is. I've got four or five ways to go with that, so I'm not committing to anything just yet. The audience knows Karen was involved in the past with Thorne and with Connor. She even flirted with Ridge, so maybe there was more there than we thought...

TV Guide Magazine: The first person to spill the beans is Caroline, right?
Bell: Yes. She tells Thomas because she wants him to know about her two moms. Rick will know relatively soon. Even Bill's wife, Katie, will know. And now that Karen and Danielle are moving to L.A., Karen knows she needs to finally tell Bill. But, before she can do that, Bill meets Danielle. She's been in the publishing business and is looking for a job in sales and advertising so she goes to see Bill on a job interview. Bill knows she's a friend of Karen's, but that's all he knows. And, of course, he's convinced Danielle is hitting on him. He's Bill Spencer! Why wouldn't every woman hit on him?

TV Guide Magazine: I gotta ask this since we know the twisted way you work, sir. Is Danielle going to stay lesbian or will she have an affair with Bill in the ultimate Brad Bell triangle?
Bell: Well, that is certainly not in the plans. But, hey, a triangle is not a bad idea. [Laughs] Who knows, maybe Danielle will end up with Katie instead of Bill!

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!