Ronn Moss' decision to end his 25-year run as Ridge Forrester on CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful— reportedly over salary issues — is quite the industry shocker! It also comes as a major disappointment to the guy's massive fan base. What went haywire in his contract negotiations? A personal rep for Moss says the actor plans to make an explanatory announcement within the next few days. In the meantime Moss — one of the true gentlemen of the soap world — has taken to Facebook and urged his fans to not be "sad, angry, disappointed...It's been a great run and all good things end eventually. As this door closes, others are opening." What will B&B do without him? Will the role of Ridge be recast? TV Guide Magazine got the answers in this exclusive interview with the soap's executive producer-head writer Bradley Bell.
TV Guide Magazine: It's long been a point of pride that you've been able to hang on to B&B's original core four — Katherine Kelly Lang [Brooke], Susan Flannery [Stephanie], John McCook [Eric Forrester] and Ronn Moss. So how big a blow is this?
Bell: It's huge. And it came out of the blue. I only found out last Thursday [Aug. 9] about Ronn's decision not to renew. So I'm very sad but also very grateful for the 25 years we did have with him. Ronn is a wonderful man and a great actor and he'll be sorely missed.
TV Guide Magazine: This came totally out of the blue? You had no inkling?
Bell: Well, I did have a plan in place because when it's contract time you have to be prepared. It's always possible things won't work out but I did not think Ronn's departure was probable. There was a point in the negotiations where I was not hearing back from him, so just in case I went ahead and wrote a wedding for Ridge and Brooke — a real retrospective sort of wedding that honors the characters' 25-year relationship — and then I have them take off on a honeymoon. I've been in this business long enough to know I have to protect my show. The worst thing happened but at least I was prepared.
TV Guide Magazine: What can you say about the money you were offering him? Was it a big cut?
Bell: I will just say that I'm very proud of the offer we made to Ronn, especially in this day and age of daytime television and what's going on in our industry.
TV Guide Magazine: If the offer was fair, it seems like there's a piece missing here.
Bell: Well, Ronn has an announcement to make and that will be interesting for everyone, including me. I don't know what he has in mind.
TV Guide Magazine: Should we expect more such departures when other B&B biggies hit contract time?
Bell: No. I think Ronn's circumstances are unique. What happened here will not be widespread.
TV Guide Magazine: When is Ronn off the show?
Bell: Tuesday, Aug. 14 is his last day with us at the studio and he will make his exit on air Friday, Sept. 14.
TV Guide Magazine: What are your plans for Ridge? Death? Presumed death? How does a guy disappear during his honeymoon without a damn good excuse?
Bell: Right now I can only tell you this: Ridge will not be dead or presumed dead. He will just not be in the picture. I don't want to do a presumed death because I don't want the story that follows to be all about Ridge. This will be a Brooke story. Ridge is a pivotal part of the show and he will be back in a matter of time...and probably not all that much time. I will continue writing for the character. I'm looking at this in two phases, really. There will be a period of time without Ridge, which is where some new, interesting avenues for Brooke will come into play. But at some point it will be necessary for Ridge to return to the show. Who will be playing the role at that point remains to be seen.
TV Guide Magazine: So for all we know it could be Mr. Moss if he changes his mind? He wouldn't be the first mega-soap star to quit and return in record time.
Bell: It could be Mr. Moss or it could be someone else.
TV Guide Magazine: If you recast, would you take advantage of the situation and cast a younger actor? Not that Ronn, at 60, doesn't put most 30-year-old soap heartthrobs to shame.
Bell: I might go a little younger but we'll be true to the age range that's been established. I do have people in mind in terms of a recast — some very interesting people.
TV Guide Magazine: So this is a good thing for KK Lang?
Bell: Once I got over the initial shock and disappointment of Ronn's decision, his departure almost immediately opened my mind to story ideas I would never have considered otherwise. What happens with Ridge will send Brooke down a new and exciting path. She and Ridge have been through so much over the 25 years of the show that I've felt an obligation to keep them happy and maintain them as a supercouple. But now that's coming to an abrupt ending and Brooke will have an important new man enter her life — the first important one since Nick [Jack Wagner]. This is going to be a full-on relationship.
TV Guide Magazine: Man, you move fast! And you're confident the reason for Ridge's exit will make sense?
Bell: Perhaps some people will say, "Ridge would never do that!" But word is out and the fans know I'm in a bind. Hopefully, they'll cut me a little dramatic license.
TV Guide Magazine: Let's backtrack to those negotiations. Was this purely financial? Ronn, like pretty much everyone else on B&B, has taken a back seat to the Liam-Steffy-Hope triangle. It's been your only plot all summer and every character, including Ridge, has been bizarrely, unheathily obsessed with those three kids. Was Ronn's nose out of joint about it? If so, can we blame him?
Bell: I do not think this situation was purely financial. Ronn is a musician and an artist who really wants to explore what makes Ronn Moss tick. I can see the allure of wanting to spend more time with his music, and to really hone himself as a musician. He's a good, decent, very spiritual guy and he felt the spirit calling him in a different direction. It's hard to negotiate against that. You'd have to ask Ronn about his feelings about the [Liam-Steffy-Hope] story. Liam has become the front-and-center male on B&B, a spot long held by Ridge. Was that a frustration for Ronn? I don't really know. I do know that it's my job to keep B&B going forward. It's my job to use this situation to enhance Brooke and Taylor [Hunter Tylo] and Bill [Don Diamont] and especially Rick [Jacob Young] who is going to make his move on Ridge's company. The show must go on and I'm psyched — not because Ronn is going away but psyched because of how the fall of 2012 is now looking for B&B. If there was ever a good time for something like this to happen, this is it.