OVER 21 - In the beginning.
For those of you who have seen producers’ names on the screen for many years (over 21 in my case) and wondered who we are, I’m Ron Weaver, Senior Producer.
My first day on the job was October 6, 1986. I had been interviewed by Gail Kobe, the show’s first producer, and Bill Bell, Jr. who has handled the show’s business affairs since the beginning. Bill Bell, Sr. was a television legend and, since I had not yet met him, I sat outside his office on my first day feeling awed and lucky to be a part of this new adventure. When he came out with a warm greeting and pointed me toward a temporary desk (our offices hadn’t been set up yet) I knew I was in the right place and I hoped I’d be here for the long haul. I didn’t realize how long the haul would be, and we’re still hauling.
People often remark about the warm family atmosphere at B&B and it’s true. This is a business where big egos can sometimes make you yearn for another job. But B&B egos have always been tempered by a genuine caring for people and a tolerance for larger-than-life personalities and individual eccentricities. That makes it easy to enjoy coming to work every day.
We had a generous, six-month pre-production period and I labored over my IBM PC (you know, the ones with 64KB of RAM and a clunky dot matrix printer) to develop an array of documents for managing schedules and tracking costs.
After about two months of intense work I was pleased with what I had accomplished. Those of you who were around in the early PC days know that you had to format discs before you used them. As I recall, the command to reformat a disk in those days (which erased anything that was on it) was CTL/ALT/DEL. Whatever it was, I had one of those moments where I pressed some keys and had that sinking, blood-draining-from-my-face feeling that I had put the disk in the drive with two months work on it instead of a blank one. I hadn’t. But after that I made sure to make regular backups and keep them at home.
Also during this pre-production period, Gail and I interviewed more than a hundred people for staff and crew positions. Her attitude was that we’re all going to be working intensely with each other 52 weeks a year and she was adamant about putting together a compatible group of people with good hearts and loads of talent. To Gail’s credit, many members of that original group are still here. I had worked with Rhonda Friedman on a soap called Rituals and brought her in to meet Gail. Rhonda was our first production coordinator and is now our supervising producer, responsible for the studio execution of everything you see every day. Cindy Popp started as our office manager and is now a producer and director. Michael Stich directed episode #6 and has been here ever since. There are quite a few more “originals” on our crew as well. And, of course, our fearless leader, Bradley Bell, started by writing a script a week while learning from his dad how to create story and, ultimately, run the show. Lucky for all of us, he got it.
I’ll do my best to respond to questions. Just ask.