Jacob Young

When suds superstar Ronn Moss abruptly quit his role as Ridge on The Bold and the Beautiful last month, the show's exec producer Bradley Bell admits he was taken aback. But he wasted no time regrouping. Not only will Bell recast Moss's role and already has several high-profile actors in mind, he also plans to move Ridge's heartthrobby half-brother Rick (Emmy winner Jacob Young) into full Ridge mode.

"Rick is a young man sick of sitting on the sidelines and will finally come into his own," says Bell. "He'll become a passionate, sexy, driving force of the show, making a strategic play for Caroline [Linsey Godfrey] and going after Ridge's position as head of Forrester Creations."

Is this Bell's quiet revenge against Moss? If so, he denies it. "This was always my plan for Rick," Bell says. "It just works so much better now, what with Ridge going off on an extended honeymoon doing God knows what. It gives Rick a legitimate reason to take control."

Also this fall, look for yet another Emmy-bait plot for the fantastic Heather Tom. Her character, Katie, will discover how evil her hubby Bill (Don Diamont) truly is just as she's about to give birth to his son. "Katie's going to have big issues with the guy she's married to and will wonder whether or not she can share a child with him," Bell says. "She's going to have to really draw the line." Adds the boss man: "Heather may have four Emmys already but this story is really going to test her."

What about those lesbians? Bell made big news last spring with his same-sex story involving Karen and Dani, played by Joanna Johnson and Crystal Chappell, but after an intriguing start the characters went straight to the back burner. Blame it on Johnson, who grabbed a producing gig at the new CW series Emily Owens, M.D., and hasn't been available to the soap.

"Joanna will definitely be back, if only for a day or two here and there," says Bell. "And once her [Emily Owens] schedule backs off a bit I want her back for something meaty. We may not see Karen for the time being but we'll play her as if she's still around and that she and Dani are still a happy couple. [Laughs] I'm not going to have Dani go off and seduce one of our guys."

Bell surprised many when the assumed villain in the lesbian story —Karen's brother Bill — turned out to be okay with her sexuality. Karen stayed in the closet for much of her life fearing what her badass bro would think. How come he turned out to be such a pussycat?

"I originally had it written that Bill would be a real a--hole homophobe and was having a lot of fun with all the bad things he could do," says Bell. "Then I realized it made him seem really stupid and sheltered. I like that Bill was cool about Karen's secret, since he's so horrible about so much else. I liked having him come through at the end."

Was Bell worried he'd get flack from gay advocacy groups? "Not really," he says. "I think they would have stuck it out with me. There's value in having a homophobic character on the canvas to help show the reality of what gay people deal with. We can bring on other homophobes. I just didn't want it to be Bill."

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