The folks at The Bold and the Beautiful have done an admirable — and Emmy worthy — job drawing attention to the homeless. And they're sticking to it. On December 22, cancer victim Stephanie Forrester (Susan Flannery) will purchase the show's hipster hangout Insomnia Café and then, on Christmas Day, she'll hand the keys over to Dayzee (Kristolyn Lloyd), the Skid Row youth she befriended several weeks ago. The place will be renamed Dayzee's. What's more, two real-life residents of L.A.'s Union Rescue Mission shelter, Anthony Ortega and Leilani Zachary, have joined the B&B cast and will be seen in recurring roles as employees at the restaurant. An additional 18 people from the shelter — including seven children — were hired to play homeless guests for Dayzee's Christmas dinner. The kid "actors" all opened presents on-camera — Nintendo DSs and American Girl dolls — and got to keep the loot, natch. Too cool! TV Guide Magazine spoke with B&B show runner Ed Scott about his soap's staunch determination to stay committed to the homeless.
TV Guide Magazine: On the rare occasion that a soap does tackle a social issue, it's eventually dropped like a hot potato. Glad to see that's not happening here.
Scott: Dayzee's restaurant will be dedicated to helping homeless people earn a living and get their lives back on track. We'll be hiring more homeless as the show moves along. Everyone at B&B is looking at life through a new pair of glasses these days. Before we shot those episodes with Susan Flannery talking with the people at the Union Rescue Mission, we all went down to that Skid Row area and immersed ourselves. We met some really wonderful people, many of them homeless, while others are living and working down there to help the homeless. We met families just like yours and mine. They are people who want to climb out of a bad situation, get their education and put in the work to make their lives better. There's a perception that they are hopeless. Nope, just homeless. When you walk around Skid Row, you see faces that remind you of some of those famous photographs taken during the Great Depression by Dorothea Lange. I saw one woman sitting there looking pretty down and out but she was wearing a T-shirt that said "Tough Times Don't Last But Tough People Do." It changes your life.
TV Guide Magazine: In a way it's not surprising that you cast Leilani Zachary and Anthony Ortega as recurring players — they shined so brightly in those episodes at Union Rescue. They actually had star quality!
Scott: Leilani will be one of the waitresses at Dayzee's and she is such a natural! You knew it right away. She has kids and has since moved up at Union Rescue and now has a job there. A remarkable lady! Anthony was an Iraq war vet who was injured in an accident over there and was sent back home. He was so disappointed in himself and felt like such a failure — even though his injuries weren't his fault — that he didn't even tell his family. He just dropped out of society altogether, feeling like he'd never accomplished anything worthwhile in his life. We ended up interviewing Anthony on B&B, and his mother just happened to see the show and was able to make contact with him and they've now reunited. It's so damn heartwarming!
TV Guide Magazine: How was it to bring the homeless families to the CBS studio to shoot the Christmas episodes?
Scott: It was so much fun inviting them into our world and they had a ball. [Laughs] One child opened the wrong gift and started crying, so it was just like a real Christmas. The kids loved their presents and they were so quiet playing with them — they were perfect on camera! I have to say that [B&B executive producer-head writer] Brad Bell is just a chip off the old block. [Brad's father, the late Bill Bell, and his mother, Lee Phillip Bell, created both B&B and The Young and the Restless.] I think his dad would be very proud. I know his mother is. Lee came down to Skid Row with us on one of the days we shot there — the day the temperature in L.A. hit an all-time high of 113 degrees. I told Lee, "I always said I'd willingly follow your son into hell. Well, I just did." But I didn't care. Nobody did. We were so f--king happy to be there telling this story that we didn't know the thermometer broke.
TV Guide Magazine: You were the line producer on Y&R for years while Bill Bell wrote the show. Is it déjà vu all over again?
Scott: Bill did a wonderful homeless story on Y&R many years ago and now Brad's carrying the torch, but not just in his storytelling. Like his dad, Brad is a wonderful leader and a hands-on guy who knows what he wants and is passionate about it. It's like being back in the old days with Bill. If B&B is the last show I ever work at, then this is the one to go out on!
TV Guide Magazine: You guys have received raves across the boards for this homeless storyline. Will it catch on? Will other soaps find a way to entertain us, yet make us better and more enlightened peeps?
Scott: Hard to say. There's a big temptation these days to try to make soaps more like prime time, to make them more like action shows. But we really don't have the time and the budget to do that well. We have to move too fast. And, anyway, I don't think that's what our audience wants. A soap is primarily about relationships. It's people-to-people stuff. If Susan Flannery can go down to Skid Row and just sit there and simply, honestly talk to the people about life and be absolutely riveting, then what more do you really need?