Soapside: Advocate 's Guide to Daytime
BY Michael Fairman
June 04 2009 12:00 AM ET
For those awaiting the return of Lauralee Bell (Christine) to The Young and the Restless now that Thom Bierdz and Tricia Cast are back on the canvas, it may be sooner than you think. But first you can find her online starting next Monday in her new Web series, Family Dinner , co-starring Phyllis Diller and Dan Cortese. In it Bell portrays a dysfunctional mom whose ambition is to be on Oprah, and what goes on at the dinner table is anything but your normal family gathering.
Bell says she had a "gay ol' time" on the set.
"When we wrapped up Family Dinner, one of the men who helped edit the show said, 'I just want to thank you. Not only was this the best experience, but this was the gayest crew I have ever worked with ... 99% except for you and your husband, Scott.' And I said, 'They were the most talented, fun, and brilliant group, and whenever we shoot more episodes this is the group we are having back. In fact, our website guy and editor left last weekend to ride in the AIDS/LifeCycle San Francisco to Los Angeles, and I gave them huge checks, and I made them Family Dinner T-shirts for their cross-state challenge."
In Advocate.com's recent interview with Thom Bierdz, the gay actor admitted he believes he may have come out to his former costar, Bell, at a very awkward time, but his recollection remains murky. In response, Lauralee told me, "Sure, I had a crush on him, and probably when I was working with Thom I was 15 or so. I am about as open as they come, and I think there are a lot of women who are quite hot myself. When you work on a soap, you learn so many lines and work so fast ... and so my recollection is not so good, but I felt we did have the talk. I almost feel it was when we were toward the end of our stay on the show. And if it was, as I say, he knew it would be such a nonissue to me. I am so glad Maria Arena Bell [head writer and co-executive producer of Y&R ] has brought him back, and it should hopefully be a story line where everyone learns from it. I wish Thom could get married on the show to a man. It would be so great! We need that."
And what of a possible return for Lauralee to Y&R ? The actress teased me, "I think it's understood with the right time and the right people, I would, and with Thom and Tricia back ... my curiosity piques more and more."
The Engen Who Couldn't -- UPDATE!
So since the last column, Chris Engen, the dearly departed Adam Newman of Y&R, posted what he calls his "Statement to the Public" on his MySpace page last week. In the end, he said, his walkout had nothing to do with homophobia.