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Actress Denise Richards discusses resuming filming on “The Bold and the Beautiful” and how she has to speak her lines to a mannequin. (All TV clips in this piece were filmed before the coronavirus pandemic). (July 6)

AP Entertainment

Bold and beautiful and back. 

The CBS soap that has been on the air for more than 30 years returned with a new episode Monday, following the show’s shutdown by the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March. “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which last aired a new episode in April, used Monday to catch viewers up on the drama of months ago.

The soap opera opened with what felt like an obvious wink for fans: A beaming Katie Logan (played by Heather Tom) presents a campaign for the newly relocated Forrester Creations boutique and announces to Carter Walton (Lawrence Saint-Victor), “I am so, so happy for all of our customers that the wait is finally over.”

Carter, at the other end of a conference table, begs Katie to fill him on what’s going on, providing the perfect opportunity to flashback to previous episodes. Carter learns that Katie’s estranged husband Bill Spencer Jr. (Don Diamont), and sister Brooke Logan (Katherine Kelly Lang) shared another kiss, showing the moment Katie learned of the betrayal. 

Later, Zoe Buckingham (Kiara Barnes) enters Carter’s office, reliving her disaster of a wedding day with Thomas Forrester (Matthew Atkinson). For their interaction, single shots of actors were used. Carter remained seated behind his desk, while Zoe was shown standing on the opposite side. 

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Later in the episode, Katie joins Zoe and Carter, informing him that Sally Spectra (Courtney Hope) is “dying.”

Only the interactions between Katie, Zoe and Carter were filmed after the pandemic. Episodes that will air Tuesday and Wednesday were shot prior to the shutdown. Those airing Thursday and Friday were filmed after production resumed in June. 

The return of “B&B” had some on Twitter talking.

“So excited for new #BoldAndBeautiful!!” a fan wrote.

“Kudos to #BoldandBeautiful,” complimented another. “What a creative way to do the first show back!! Not the typical ‘previously on Bold’. Special times call for a special reboot. Thanks for all the hard work.”

The return of “B&B” – the first scripted broadcast series to return to production following mandatory shutdowns – meant Tom could retire from being “Professor Mommy” to her 7-year-old son, Zane. 

The show is in production four days per week, producing eight episodes, as the series did prior to the shutdown. The shoot takes longer, Tom says, because of new precautions.

“We’re very very conscientious of all the things we have to do to keep everybody safe, especially when the actors have to take off their masks – because when we’re doing a scene, we really can’t have our masks on,” says Tom. “That does require us to kind of get creative with the blocking, and with how we shoot things. So that does take a little bit longer.”

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“The Bold and the Beautiful” actress Heather Tom. (Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

She says the first day back “went very smoothly,” despite new safety protocols for music, TV and film production. Los Angeles County requires all cast members to wear face masks when not in front of the cameras, sanitize their hands before and after scenes, and participate in regular symptom checks.

On the set, Tom says actors receive a band indicating their temperatures have been taken and they’re permitted to go to select zones. “We have a lanyard that says OK, you’re allowed to be in this zone, you cannot be in that zone.”

The stage manager coordinates when actors leave their dressing rooms for hair and makeup. “They space out the hair and makeup room, so there’s basically one person in there at a time,” she says.

Actors rehearse shared scenes in “this big giant space where you can learn your lines – distanced, of course,” Tom says. “Once you’re on the set, everyone is distanced, everyone is wearing masks. Once the actor takes the mask off, we actually have to be 8 feet away from each other.”

Reopening protocol also discourages scriptwriters from including scenes that require close contact, such as intimate or fighting scenes. But Tom says executive producer/writer Brad Bell has made it his goal to maintain the tone of the soap.

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Tom, far right, who has played Katie Logan since 2007, in a scene with her onscreen sisters, Katherine Kelly Lang (as Brooke Logan) and Jennifer Gareis (Donna Logan). (Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS)

“We didn’t want to suddenly watch ‘Bold and the Beautiful’ without any romance, or without any kissing, or without any things that make our show so much fun to watch,” says Tom. “So those things are still in the script. We’ve just had to get a lot more creative in how we shoot them.” 

That includes using mannequins and actors’ real-life spouses to convey physical closeness. When asked if her husband would be stepping in for Diamont, Tom predicts their physical differences might make it a challenge. Diamont is “this kind of big burly guy” with a “giant head of hair,” whereas her real husband, composer James Achor, is a “very fit man, but he’s a very little man” and bald.

Tom says mannequins are used “to give a slice of someone’s hair, or that kind of thing,” and she thinks it’s all quite believable. “I’ve seen some of the ways they’re cutting it together, and it’s convincing. It looked good. I don’t think the audience is going to notice a thing.”

Tom’s fellow “B&B” co-star Denise Richards, who plays Shauna Fulton, chose to shoot her racy scenes opposite onscreen husband Thorsten Kaye, who plays Ridge Forrester, with her real husband, Aaron Phypers.

“There was no question whether it was going to be my husband or a mannequin,” says Richards. “Aaron said yes; he was more than happy to step in. Obviously we’re married and have a lot of chemistry, which is very helpful.”

Contributing: Bryan Alexander and Jenna Ryu 

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