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Isabel adds to Latin Hue on Beautiful

The Miami Herald

The bold, the beautiful . . . and the Hispanic.

After nearly 15 years on the air, CBS’ daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful is reinventing itself, continuing to add Hispanic sabor to its American style with national Spanish-language radio personality and former Miami-Dade schoolteacher Isabel Gómez-Bassols joining the show for 12 episodes beginning Friday.

Gómez-Bassols, whose popular personal-advice program Dra. Isabel is aired weekdays afternoons on the Doral-based Radio Unica network, will act in the soap beside Argentine actress Sandra Vidal (previously seen on Telemundo’s short-lived Angeles) and actor Paulo Benedeti of Colombian descent, who was reared in Fort Lauderdale.

Benedeti and Vidal joined the program in May as part of CBS’ first attempt to reach out to the Hispanic community.

“I believe [CBS] knows who is watching and they want to enlarge the viewing audience within the Hispanic ! community,” says CBS publicist Michael DiPasquale. The Bold and The Beautiful has a huge following in the Spanish community and [Dr. Isabel] also has a huge following.”

The Bold and the Beautiful, seen in South Florida at 1:30 p.m. weekdays on WFOR-CBS 4, is available in Spanish on Secondary Audio Program (SAP), where it is known as Belleza y Poder. In a casting not far from true life, Gómez-Bassols plays a psychologist who arrives in Los Angeles on vacation and comes across Brooke Logan (Katherine Kelly Lang).

“In August I received a call from my producer telling me I had received a call from The Bold and the Beautiful,” Gómez-Bassols says. “And I said, `Bold and Beautiful? What is that?’ I thought it was someone who had heard me talk and needed help.”

Gómez-Bassols, whose radio program receives about 8,000 phone calls a day, was partially right: somebody needed help.

“I asked [the producers], `Why me?’ ”! Gómez-Bassols says. “And they said because they knew I had a great impact on the Hispanic community and had been well-recommended. And I asked, `Do you think this will affect the Hispanic community in a positive way?’ And they said yes. That was it for me.”

CBS is apparently sincere in its outreach to Hispanics. In addition to Vidal, Benedeti and Gómez-Bassols, actors Erik Estrada and Rosana De Soto and Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval have also appeared on the soap opera.

For Gómez-Bassols, however, the world of TV was unknown territory. She had appeared on Spanish-language talk shows like Sevcec on Telemundo and El Show de Cristina on Univisión, but never with a predetermined character and script.

“On the radio, I give out my opinions,” she says. “It isn’t something prepared or taped. It is me and I respond.”

On the Bold and the Beautiful, Gómez-Bassols had to memorize the script and handle a difficult case in 12 episodes, which were taped in Los Angeles in November.

Although the situation and characters are pure fiction, Gómez-Bassols said she tried to treat it the way she does situations on her radio show, which is heard locally on WNMA-AM (1210).

“The power of television goes beyond what you may think,” she said, explaining that in many instances a case presented on TV can relate to a real-life situation someone is going through. “TV can do a lot.”

Gómez-Bassols, who was born in Havana, was working as a science teacher at Campbell Drive Junior High School in 1976 when she discovered her true profession was counseling.

She got a degree from Florida International University and returned to Campbell Drive to work as a counselor, then later pursued a doctorate in education with a specialization in early and middle adolescence.

She eventually became head of psychological services for alternative outreach programs for Dade County Public Schools.

“Everything that has come my way, I didn’t ask for,” Gómez-Bassols says. “If you believe in what you do, if you do it with passion, things will come your way.”

So what is next for la doctora? Soap opera stardom?

“The producers asked me if I would help them with the script,” she said, unable to hide her smile. “They don’t know what they got themselves into!”

color photo: Isabel Gómez-Bassols (a)

Copyright (c) 2002 The Miami Herald
Record Number: 0201030128

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