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Home Features Where Are They Now Where Are They Now ~ Young and the Restless' Lauralee Bell

Where Are They Now ~ Young and the Restless' Lauralee Bell

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Lauralee Bell (Family Dinner; ex Christine, Y&R)It may be the dinner you are longing for, or the dinner to die for, but either way you spoon it up, or fork it down, you're cordially invited to chow down with Lauralee Bell (ex-Christine, Young and the Restless) and her TV family in the new web series, "Family Dinner," that she created and is producing along with her husband, Scott Martin. The show premiered in June.

"I made this script a few years ago during the writers' strike. I let my creative juices flow," Bell said. "I also have been working on a movie. I always had these (scripts) put away for a rainy day. It's something I enjoy doing."

Along with starring in and producing, Bell wrote episodes one and two of Family Dinner and came up with the story ideas for episodes three and four (which were written by Mike Fasolo, an Emmy-nominated writer for Robot Chicken, which airs on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.) Check out the most recent episode which is episode three.

For all Christine fans from Young and the Restless, Family Dinner is a must see and a first for Bell to really step out of character as she portrays Karen O'Connell, and dare we call her a bit psychotic, who is turning her kids into neurotics? And not to mention the attention that she craves to survive every minute of her life.

"Yes! That's me. And a bit on the trashy side too," Bell jokes. "I've always had the comedic in me, and now it's time to let it out. I really wanted to create and be a part of a dysfunctional family, and this family is as bad as it gets."

The idea for this series really came to life after Bell got together with Martha Byrne (ex-Lily of As The World Turns), who introduced her to producer Anne Clements. "We got together for lunch and really got into this," Bell said. "Then like everything else a couple of weeks went by and then the call said, lets go."

The series began to materialize real fast. In fact, in "just a few weeks," Bell added. They first signed legendary comedienne Phyllis Diller, who has been friends with Lauralee's mom (Lee Phillip-Bell) for years. And of course, Phyllis is like the energizer bunny, she just keeps going, and not to mention gets funnier every time you see her. Oh by the way, Phyllis plays the mother-in-law. You already know what to expect?

Not to mention the perfect casting of Aaron Lustig (ex-Dr Tim), who plays Steven, her husband, and Dan Cortese of MTV, the ensemble really began to fall in place.

Then came the kids! "Oh I have to tell you, they are unbelievable," Bell said. "It is such a joy to work with such highly talented kids."

Bell said the kids were picked after seeing a tape of them, and immediately, it was an instant choice. And talented they are. Makaela Renae Johnson plays daughter, Kim. Maxim Knight plays son, Ryan. Then there is Zach Cumer, who plays oldest son, Jeremy. The twist is that Jeremy doesn't speak, but breaks the fourth wall and does talk to the audience. However, Bell noted, "Just wait! Probably when he starts he won‘t shut-up." All have been in several projects in their young lives and are true professionals.

Bell comes from one of the most talented and creative families in the television industry. Her dad, the late great William J. Bell, and mom, Lee Phillip-Bell, together have co-created the Young and the Restless and the Bold and the Beautiful, two of daytime TV's dynasties. Lauralee Bell is a firm believer that to make a show a success there is one main ingredient.

"I have been taught at an early age that in order of a show to be a hit, it must be character driven," Bell said. "My mom and dad always said that a show with rich characters will always survive."

Soapdom wants to know: What would your dad's take be on this? "Well, I'll tell you. We were and are a fun loving family. We are jokingly funny. At home we'd sit and watch TV and shout back the answers at game shows, joke around, and have a good time. I believe dad would find this show totally hysterical, and not be surprised that I'm doing this."

As for mom? "I really think this is great. I'm so proud of Lauralee. She comes up with great thoughts and ideas. I really think and believe that this show can go somewhere. It's just so funny," said Lee Phillip-Bell.

"Family Dinner" has a unique concept. First, it is only about four minutes in length. "Every actors dream," said Bell. There is only one set. A kitchen, which is actually filmed in a real home in Toluca Lake, California. She also loves the idea of working with husband, Scott. "He is so passionate about his work. Being a photographer, Scott grabs things. He also offers constructive criticism, which I value and am used to with my dad. I love it when Scott taps on my shoulder and says do this or do that."

The show is very low budget to produce along with a short schedule, but the standard of quality remain in tact. "Oh without a doubt. We have hair, makeup, the whole nine yards. The quality in this show definitely comes across to the viewer. And with the given economy, it's giving Hollywood a chance to again become creative, which seems to be lost."

The show is garnishing big names. So far only three episodes have been shot and October 12th, Clois Leachman will appear. Now anyone that knows Cloris can come to expect shear madness.

"Oh she is great and wonderful,"Bell said. "I know the people will just love and adore her."

Since the beginning of "Family Dinner", Bell as received email from many celebrities wanting to be on the show, including her Y&R cast mates.

"I just love having these famous people come to dinner. Boy! Would I love Oprah," Bell said. "With all the technology that is out there, we can literally invite anyone to dinner."

Bell has plans to produce more shows and said that already the online viewership had doubled. She would like it to go to a half hour and perhaps with the success that it is showing, the show can be made into a series and branch out to network television.

"I feel I have something here. It would be a great proposal. I believe this is adapting to be sellable, and the audience is already being established. It's fun. Today the American family is really divided. Busy with there lives, no time to talk, and just spread apart," Bell said. "That is why with ‘Family Dinner' I want to bring back the family to laugh and be together again."

Bell wanted this show to connect with the audience. On the website there are recipes that are from the actual shows. The viewers can send in recipes, as well as story ideas, and can even receive a credit on the show. Someday she would like to produce a family cookbook from the series. "This is all about being interactive with the audience," she added.

"I always joke, because if we win an award for this show, I'd say, hey no Bell has ever won a Webby!"

"Family Dinner" can also be viewed on funnyordie.com, a site filled with celebrities doing the outlandish. You can also rate the episode.

So come hungry. Enjoy yourself, sit a spell, and you don't even have to being a dessert.

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Linda Marshall-Smith (QueenRuler, www.Soapdom.com)
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