May 7, 2012

The Bold and the Beautiful Land in Italy

Kim Matula (Hope) and Scott Clifton (Liam) studying their lines as the Italian crew looks on at the San Domenico Masseria in Puglia, Italy. Photo Credit: Mauro Sostini, Federico Guberti.

I am in Puglia – the heel of Italy’s boot – on an assignment for AP Entertainment, to cover the American soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” on location. I anxiously told my bosses “I’ve covered shipwrecks, earthquakes, elections and the Pope, but I have never, ever covered a soap opera, and I’ve never, ever seen “The Bold and the Beautiful.” But that’s what working for a news agency is all about.  Earthquake one day, soap opera the next.  Deal with it.

So I have been getting a crash course in “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

Well, let’s see, it goes more or less like this…Ridge and Taylor had a daughter named Steffy, Ridge then married Brooke who already had a daughter named Hope with a man named Deacon who was married with Brooke’s first daughter Bridget. Hmmm. But then Deacon went to jail and Hope never knew her father….and somehow in all this Hope lost her virginity and got addicted to anti-depressants by buying them on-line and on and on and on.  Blog readers, are you getting all this? Ok, let’s move on.

Their press office informed me that “The Bold and the Beautiful” is seen by 35 million people in over 100 countries.  I was not quite sure at first but then I began asking around.  My British friend, Mandy, who just moved from Cairo to Rome, said that is all anyone ever watches in Egypt.  At my Roman hairdresser’s everyone had seen some episodes of “Beautiful” as it is known in Italy, and most Italians remember seeing super-soap-star Ronn Moss “Ridge” on Italy’s popular show “Dancing with the Stars.”  It is also popular in India, I am told.

When I arrived in Puglia this afternoon was I driven to the San Domenico Masseria where the filming was underway.  My car crunched down a stone road through groves of ancient, twisted olive trees.  The spectacular villa was made of white Tufa stone,  a soft, white limestone, and walkways were lined with red, yellow and pink roses.  The actors and production crews were gathered around a pool in the middle of an olive grove. The olive trees looked like bunch of grouchy, rugged old trolls standing around watching this glamorous Beverly Hills bunch.

An Ancient olive tree looking like a rugged old troll in Puglia, Italy. Photo by Trisha Thomas

The first scene I saw had a sexy looking Kim Matula (Hope) in a bathing suit at the pool affectionately playing with Scott Clifton (Liam).  I am under strict instructions not to give away any juicy details, but let me just add that the sly, slender vixen Steffy, played by Jacqueline Macinnes Wood, was keeping a close eye on them.

The production team explained to me that part of the reason they have come to Italy is because it is the number one market in the world for their program.  In Italy, there are more than 4 million viewers compared to some 3.6 in the US, so they want to “nurture” the Italian market.

They also happened to need a “romantic”, “stunningly beautiful” and “isolated” place for Hope to escape to, so Puglia seemed a good choice.

“The Bold and the Beautiful” shoots 250 episodes in one year and are trying to do 10 episodes in five days of shooting in Italy.  So, no one is messing around.  Alluring actresses were popping in and out of outfits and on and off the set.  The Italian production crew was lugging huge cameras up and down the narrow staircase of the villa to the roof balcony, and I am told the Executive Producer, Brad Bell, was holed up in his hotel room with the script writers working away on the script.

The producers are trying to feature local culture, so they are walking their stars through groves of ancient olive trees.  Today it was Ronn Moss (Ridge) and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke) who had their turn.

Ronn Moss (Ridge) takes a souvenir photo of Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke) leaning on a 100-year-old olive tree on location in Puglia for "The Bold and the Beautiful". Credit Mauro Sostini, Federico Guberti

The highlight of this week will be tomorrow’s wedding, I’m told.  Will there or won’t there be a wedding?  Will Liam and Hope find happiness together?  No one is willing to give me an answer to that.  I did see an Italian stuntman dressed in black preparing  today so I am curious to see if something dramatic will happen at the wedding.  Will someone jump from the steeple or parachute in for the wedding? I’m told Brooke and Ridge are ditching their olive tree and bathing suits and will be at the wedding, but will Bill and Steffy?

In a nod to Italy’s car industry, I have been told that Italy’s famed three-wheeled mini scooter-car, the APE (wasp in English) will have a key role. APE’s were first built by Piaggio in 1948 and were common in the post-war period when people couldn’t afford a larger four-wheel car.  They are still popular today.

In a moment of economic crisis, “The Bold and the Beautiful” are apparently successful enough that they can make forays abroad.  They have brought 16 crew members from the US, plus six actors, two people from the publicity department and the executive producer.  They are also giving a mini-boost to a region of Italy that is struggling economically. They have hired a 42 person film crew from a local company, as well as using local drivers and luxury hotels.

I am staying in the fabulous Borgo Egnazia Hotel with the production crew.  I think it is the most spectacularly beautiful hotel I have been in since the Kempinski Palace Hotel on the Bosphorus in Istanbul.  It is made entirely of the white Tufa stone and is exquisitely decorated all in beige and browns.  My balconys look out over two big swimming pools with Tufa stone terraces and surrounded by olive groves.  Not bad.  So even Mozzarella Mamma is getting a moment to relax.

After several hours on the set I rushed back to the hotel to dive in the spectacular pool and kick up my feet. Photo by Trisha Thomas

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Trisha Thomas

Author: Trisha Thomas

Trisha is a TV journalist working for AP TV News in Rome. She is married to an Italian and is a Mamma of three.

28 Comments

  1. avatar

    Thank you for this article. As an on again off again Bold and Beautiful fan, and wife of an Italian, I was mildly intrigued to learn that they are once again shooting scenes in Italy. The show is in desperate need of a fresh new perspective. Doesn’t sound like they’ve succeeded. If only…
    I sense you came away a bit underwhelmed. Could I be wrong? If I’m not: My sympathies. On the other hand… Puglia! What a great way to salvage the day. I’m putting it on my bucket list.

    • Trisha Thomas

      Hi Ann, I was not underwhelmed, I was having a fabulous time being on the set enjoying gorgeous Puglia and trying to under “The Bold and the Beautiful”. The whole crew was so incredibly nice and eager to explain the show to me. I don’t have your knowledge, so I couldn’t make any judgments at this point. Let’s see how it goes today. Thanks for your comment. Trisha

  2. avatar

    As a long time the Bold and the Beautiful fan, I am so envious… can’t wait to see these episodes in Australia!!

    • Trisha Thomas

      Cat, Sorry, I misunderstood and responded incorrectly in my earlier reply. I have no idea when these episodes will come to Australia. Every country seems to have their own schedule but I am glad you enjoy them.

    • Trisha Thomas

      You are absolutely right, don’t know what I was thinking WASP in Italian is VESPA — also the name of an Italian vehicle.

  3. avatar

    Are these the red toe nails you wrote about in your previous post? If so, nice job, Chiara!

    • Trisha Thomas

      They definitely are the red toenails I wrote about in the previous post and I put them in because another blog reader — Adri Barr — prompted me. Yes, Chiara did a nice job sprucing up her messy Mamma just in time for the big “Bold and Beautiful” shoot.

  4. avatar

    Hi Trisha,

    First, love the pedicure. Compliments to your daughter! And Puglia!! Soap opera!! Stop pit! This is too good to be true. Although B&B is not my show (I am a General Hospital fan, and have been since it first came on the air), I still will watch the B&B Italian episodes. See, the deal is I am dying to go to Puglia, and while I am forever whining that positively everyone is going there except me, now I can whine with confidence and conviction! Thanks for a truly fun and really quite enlightening post! As always, you are a joy to read.

    • Trisha Thomas

      Thank you Adri — I put the picture of the toes in just for you!! I will pass your compliments on to Chiara, she will be thrilled. You absolutely must find a way to visit Puglia– it is such a beautiful region of Italy and so unique. The food is fabulous and I have never seen olive trees anywhere like the ones they have here. So many people go to visit Tuscany and miss the hidden gem of Puglia.

  5. avatar

    Nice pedicure Trish! Even though I’ve never watched the soap, your post is witty & interesting. But I think that olive tree behind “Brooke” is WAY more than 100 years old.
    What a nice break for you from your usual strait-laced Vatican routine

    • Trisha Thomas

      Thanks Barbara. Glad you like my toes, everyone is getting a kick out of them! You may be right about that olive tree. And yes, what a nice break from the Vatican, Italian politics and depressing economic stories.

  6. avatar

    Finally you are able to cover something of real significance to so many people in countries the world over. Let’s all thank AP for its wise management. And yes, the red toenails befit a Soap Star….

    • Trisha Thomas

      Hey Tom, thanks for your comment. In terms of AP, by going to Puglia for AP Entertainment to cover “The Bold and the Beautiful” I left to my colleagues in Rome the coverage of the Turkish Premier Erdogan visiting Rome today. It would have been interesting to me to be at his press conference given my recent trip to Istanbul. As far as AP’s choices are concerned, I will say that our TV Entertainment department is doing extremely well, while our wire side has had to tighten the belt over the past few years (this is not a secret, it is all public information). AP is making lots of changes to cope with the rapidly changing technology and information world.

  7. Pingback: The Pretty Traffic Cop, the Ferrari and the Sexiest Man Alive | Mozzarella Mamma

  8. avatar

    Hi Trisha – great post – B & B was very big in Crete when I lived there in the 80′s and 90′s and is also so in Australia today. My Greek girlfriends loved Ridge’s chiseled faces and smouldering eyes ( Not sure I can say the same)! I pick up an episode every now and then and am still able to glean what happened in between in that half hour! F

    • Trisha Thomas

      I can’t tell you if Ridge had “smouldering eyes” because he refused to take his sunglasses off when I asked him to for our interview. AP has a rule — no tv interviews with sunglasses on, or with someone smoking a cigarette. He didn’t seem to care though.

  9. avatar
    Daggi from Germany 2012/05/09 at 07:05 Reply

    Thank you so much for these article. It is very interesting. For me this time it was not possible to go there, but I remember Portofino and it was so very interesting with crew and cast.
    I hope to read more.
    Daggi

  10. avatar

    Thanks for this post. Without it I would have been completely bewildered by a comment my son’s scuola materna teacher made today at a parents’ meeting. Apparently, the emerging love lives of our 3 year olds are “come Beautiful”! I have never seen the show (and don’t really want to imagine what preschool fidanzati do to warrant the comparison) but I felt a bit less foreign at least knowing what she was talking about.

    • Trisha Thomas

      That is hilarious. Perhaps the scuola materna teacher is a “beautiful” fan. I am amazed at how many people are familiar with the show.

  11. avatar

    What a great job you have, a country you love, with the people you love, bring on the beastly rude actors of California and get paid for the priviledge. That taxi driver had no idea what you said to him. We just got back from the boot of Italy but missed Puglia, we saw Montenegro and Croatia, wonderful! My husband’s father landed on the Foggia Island in 1943 with the US Army. Karen
    Votare!! Tiamo, Italia

    • Trisha Thomas

      Thank you Karen for your comment. I highly recommend Puglia next time you are in Italy. How interesting about your husband’s father. The US and Italy have so many ties both at a national and on personal levels.

  12. avatar

    Do you perhaps know the name of the place in Puglia which has a lovely cove with houses on each side? It appeared quite a lot in the B and the B episodes when they were in Italy. Someone said to me it could be Polignano a Mare. But not quite sure. Thanks, Les from South Africa.

    • Trisha Thomas

      Les, sorry to be so slow in getting back to you. Yes it was Polignano a Mare where the Bold and the Beautiful shoot was done with that fabulous cove. If you are thinking of a vacation in Puglia I can tell you it is absolutely gorgeous and hard to go wrong, there are so many stunningly beautiful places to go there. In addition, the food is great, and the people are very hospitable. One of my favorite places there is the town of Lecce. I must dedicate a separate post to that though.

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