‘The Bold and the Beautiful’: EP Bradley Bell Answers Our Burning Sheila Carter Questions

The Bold and the Beautiful, Kimberlin Brown
Sean Smith/Bell-Phillip TV
Kimberlin Brown's newly returned Sheila Carter is already in trouble on The Bold and the Beautiful.

[Spoiler alert: This article includes spoilers from the June 19 episode of The Bold and the Beautiful.]

Katie’s the shooter! No, Sheila’s the shooter! No, Deacon’s the shooter! Watching CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful these past 10 days has been a rollicking experience, packed with astonishing twists and unforgettable turns. Old-school soap-making at its best!

So where does head writer/executive producer Bradley Bell take the show from here? We sat down with B&B’s boss man for an exclusive preview of the Summer of Sheila. Forecast: Sizzling.

Congratulations on pulling off the soap shocker of the year—or, hell, maybe even the decade—with the return of Sheila Carter.
Bradley Bell:
That’s so hard to do these days, but it was worth the extra effort. We gave Kimberlin Brown a code name, snuck her into CBS incognito every day and swore the cast and crew to secrecy. There’s nothing quite like a jaw-dropping soap surprise, so it’s good to know it’s still possible to pull one off, especially in this era of social media. I’m very excited to have Kimberlin back. [Laughs] She knows how to give good tag.

Back in the day, you soap megamoguls would have saved a big event like this for Nielsen sweeps.
The idea comes when the idea comes. Besides, with the newer ratings technology, sweeps isn’t weighted quite as heavily as it used to be. Every week is important. With only four remaining soaps, the heat is on us 52 weeks a year.

With apologies to Stefano DiMera, what makes Sheila Carter the greatest soap villain ever?
It’s amazing that she has committed so many evil deeds—including murder—and is still able to have viewers care about her and root for her, yet she can also invoke true fear in the audience. It’s uncanny, really. Sheila is so delicious in her demon ways, and such fun to watch. Kimberlin has a gravity and an intensity and a fierceness that few actors are able to bring to the screen. When she dials in her focus? Wow. Her eyes become laser beams. Her voice is whispering but deadly sharp. That’s real talent in a very powerful package.

So what took you so long to bring her back to B&B? Fourteen years is a long haul when we’re talking about such a huge fan favorite.
I honestly thought that the days of Sheila Carter were over, especially because of her last [storyline] on Y&R.

You mean, when Sheila had plastic surgery so she could look just like…
Michelle Stafford. [Laughs] Yeah, that seemed like way too much to deal with, so I really didn’t give Sheila much thought for quite a while. That Y&R story was so…uh…[Long pause]

I know, there are no words…
…original! So we are focusing solely on what previously happened with Sheila on B&B. That’s my universe and the only way I can embrace the character right now. What happened in Genoa City stays in Genoa City.

Meaning Eric Forrester never got word about the Sheila-Phyllis switcheroo? How can that be when it’s well established that he’s in touch with Lauren Fenmore?
Hey, one time they tried to freeze the world on GH, so this is not too far of a stretch! [Laughs]  At times we try to mirror reality on B&B and be grounded. Other times it’s “What the hell? We’re telling a story here.”

But you have to admit that the crossover potential is enormous, especially with Lauren.
I know! And with Scotty, too. Sheila was completely obsessed with him. So, yeah, there is definite potential there. We may do something, I’m not ruling it out.

Even if you just focus on Sheila’s B&B crime sheet, it’s frighteningly extensive. How do you create a scenario where Eric lets Sheila back into his life without making him look like an idiot?
That’s the challenge. It helps a bit that Sheila was immediately suspected of being the one who shot at Quinn and was falsely arrested and imprisoned for it, so that seems to back up her claim that she’s a changed woman. But how can we get this character to be endeared to the Forrester family again?  Well, some people do believe that our criminal justice system does indeed work and that you can come out of it with a new lease on life.

Then what was with that scary villain music played over Sheila’s last scene in the June 19 episode? Doesn’t that pretty much give it away that she’s still the devil incarnate?
I don’t think so. Because evil thoughts lurk in the minds of all of us. I have them. You have them. Sheila will definitely have those moments when she needs to take deep breaths and remind herself, “No, I cannot kill this person” or, “No, I cannot push this person off a ledge.”

What exactly was Sheila jailed for?
We are keeping that vague and moving forward. Was it murder? Attempted murder? I’m not pinpointing that right now, but she’s done her time. This is a story about whether or not she was able to conquer her demons while she was put away. She has very little money, so she’ll need to do something about that. As for her claims of wanting to apologize, is that the real Sheila? Or is evil still lurking in the deep recesses of her brain and the dark crevices of her heart? And, if she is truly redeemed, could she be the next Forrester matriarch? Is she the next one to have her portrait on the wall above the fireplace?

Yes, please! You’ve signed Kimberlin to a one-year contract. Do you see possibilities beyond that?
This is a big arc. We will watch it closely and hope for success. We all thought Stephanie was pretty bad, but now that Eric is caught between Sheila and Quinn, Stephanie’s looking like a pussycat. I think we have all the ingredients for a great, long story. Yes, it looks like we’ve brought back the devil, but Sheila’s first moves on the show have been good. She even thinks Quinn is a great person and she’s really happy Eric married her. But then Sheila will learn more about Quinn and what she’s been up to and suddenly it’s, “Hmm…maybe Quinn isn’t so wonderful after all. Maybe Eric needs my help.” So she and Quinn will become rivals.

Was there any concern that Kimberlin’s speech at the Republican National Convention would alienate certain viewers? She says some of her fans don’t want to watch her anymore. Or did you consider the controversy surrounding her to be a plus?
Kimberlin was concerned that her career may have ended that day [at the RNC], but her speech really had nothing to do with whether or not I brought her back. More and more people are personalizing politics, but I keep that separate from my work. I respect Kimberlin’s right to speak her mind.

Let’s discuss your decision to make Deacon the real shooter. Why bring back Sean Kanan and then get rid of him so quickly? Wasn’t there more potential there?
This is it for Deacon in the near term. Sean is a terrific actor, and I love writing for him but—for some characters—the worst thing you can do sometimes is to give them too much story. Deacon is at his best when he shows up out of nowhere. We can’t really do anything with Quinn’s attempt to kill him because there were no witnesses. It’s his word against hers, which is why he felt it was perfectly okay to shoot at her. Tit for tat.

Are you aware there was a fan theory going around that Deacon was indeed dead when he appeared to Quinn draped in seaweed a few months back? She’s the only one who ever saw him.
No, I never heard that. You mean, like, a ghost?

Or a figment of Quinn’s mad, guilty mind. Otherwise, it made no sense that he would still have seaweed on him a couple of weeks after she pushed him off a cliff into the ocean.
He just wore the seaweed for effect—to terrorize Quinn and scare the crap out of her. It was all done to freak her out.

Even though we now know Katie wasn’t the shooter, it was still pretty freakin’ insane of her to pull a gun on Quinn. Will you continue to play the crazy?
You know, I rarely use guns on B&B but we’re going through a stage now where there are guns everywhere. We’re looking like General Hospital these days. We’ll pull back from that. There’s going to be no major change in Katie‘s personality. When she pulled that gun on Quinn she was just having a very bad day. She had no intention of actually using it.

So Katie and Sheila won’t team up, given their mutual dislike for Quinn?
We’ll be moving Katie in an entirely different direction. She’s going to find a new love. One of the ultimate goals in bringing back Sheila was to specifically pit her against Quinn. Kimberlin Brown and Rena Sofer going at it in a war to the death! [Laughs] It doesn’t get any better than that.

The Bold and the Beautiful, Weekdays, 1:30/12:30c; 12:30 PT, CBS