Young and the Restless Interviews Lauralee Bell

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Lauralee Bell's (Christine) latest creative endeavor, Family Dinner, is back with Cloris Leachman as Karen O'Connell's (Lauralee) wise-cracking and dysfunctional mom, Gladys. Bell contacted Robot Chicken writer, Mike Fasolo, who quickly climbed onboard for episodes 3 and 4. Dan Cortese is back as reality show producer John Graham along with Aaron Lustig (ex-Tim Reid on Y&R) as Lauralee's on-camera husband Steve O'Connell. Zack Cumer, Makaela Renae Johnson and Maxim Knight have returned as the O'Connell children. Episode 3 debuted on September 21st on and episode 4 will debut on October 12th. It will be posted on the main page so fans can vote it funny or favorite it, then it will move to The show's set around a dinner table and features Bell as a manic, attention-starved mom who's desperate to be on Oprah. Find out all the behind-the-scenes gossip straight from the creator's own lips...

Tell us about episodes 3 and 4…

"This group connected so well. After we shot the last 2 episodes, everyone was so enthusiastic, saying, 'This is such a dream team to work with. It would be so great to do this again. We had so much fun.' Even though it was 104 degrees on Emmy® day in Toluca Lake, when we shot episodes 3 and 4, it was so exciting to get everyone back together. Adding Cloris Leachman to the mix was huge."

"I added Mike Fasolo, the Emmy®-nominated Robot Chicken writer, and he responded to the concept so well that he wrote 4 episodes. We sent all 4 to Cloris and said pick your two favorites. She was great. Cloris was totally into it and thought the scripts were extremely funny. We told her that even with hair and makeup, we could get her in and out in a couple of hours. She was amazing!"

How was Cloris Leachman introduced into the mix?

"Our set designer had just worked with Cloris in another movie and mentioned the project to her and that's how it came about. Once she arrived on location and joked in the makeup room, it was like she had been with the cast since the beginning. I even gave her the option to not be in the Oprah dream sequence because people would be throwing things like cups and she said, 'I have to be in it and I have a couple of ideas like pulling your hair.' She really went for it in those scenes, even going so far as taking clothes off. And I thought, 'Go for it.'"

It certainly adds another layer to your character, Karen O'Connell…

"People who have seen the latest episodes have commented that even though my character is a little out there, she's easy to identify with. She is a frazzled mom at the end of the day just trying to get food on the table. It all goes back to my father's belief that everything stems from character driven stories. After Cloris' character is introduced, the audience can see why my character is dying for some attention."

She's definitely different from Christine, the character you played on Y&R. Was that strategic on your part?

"Whether people like the character or not, it is good that they see me in a different light. Christine was so serious, and this character is so wacky. Imagine a mom serving dinner, wearing an apron with nothing on underneath. People don't expect that from me, so I am happy to share a different side of me [Editor's note: no pun intended] with the audience."

What can we expect next on Family Dinner?

"Cloris asked, 'what are you going to do next? Why don't you do an episode around a pet or a neighbor,' and that's what I want is for the audience to be surprised and wonder what are they going to do next. Who's coming to dinner next? An uncle? A crazy niece? We have a lot of options. It all stems from those family holiday dinners where everyone one is just sitting around the table just rolling their eyes. That's how the best kind of 'Family Dinners' evolve."

"We learned so much from filming the last two episodes, which is why I am determined to continue in this mode of filming. It's low budget, a one-set show, with big-name actors who may have other jobs, but are willing to shoot a quick scene. Other actors don't even have to be there. We can shoot around them and adjust the schedule as we need to. Theoretically, if we could re-create the chair and the backdrop somewhere else, say like New York, we could shoot a scene from anywhere and edit into the show seamlessly. The possibilities are endless!"

What kind of feedback have you received so far?

"The great thing about the third and fourth episodes is that the audience has already doubled. People can identify with the characters. I have heard fans say, 'I have a grandmother like that.' Or they have ideas of the kind of family members or characters that can be added. There has even been some interest into making it a 22- minute episode [the length of a sitcom]. So, we will see what happens. Instead of just doing 2 episodes and letting it die, I think it is important to continue on and build a fan base with each new episode. At the Y&R Fan Club Dinner, there was a family from Belgium that came up to me and said they couldn't wait for the next episode of Family Dinner. That was fantastic!"

About the lobsters…

[Laughs] "We wanted to put up a disclaimer that 'No dogs or animals were harmed while filming this episode.' Lots of people asked me if the lobsters died or were they eaten by the crew after filming? Was that real frost on the dog? I had forgotten to tell the makeup artist about the scene with the dog in the freezer, and it was the first scene we shot that day with Dan [Cortese], and she said 'I wish you had told me because there is this great spray that looks like real frost!' and Scott and I just looked at each other and said, 'Can we make this work with our tight schedule?' I thought about it, and we decided that we really had to get the spray and do it because it would be worth it. So we got the spray and shot the scene again and banked it. It was so worth it!"

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via The Young and the Restless (

Posted byLauralee at 8:39 AM  


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