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News for the week of 11-Jun-2012

by Carol Banks Weber

Tony Geary (Luke) admitted he’s had his issues with former head writer Bob Guza Jr. But when Guza previewed Geary’s next storyline, where Luke would be unveiled as the driver who ran over Elizabeth and Jason’s toddler son Jake, all those issues dissipated. Geary couldn’t wait to tackle this controversial child-killing storyline; whereas many other actors would’ve shied away for fear of the damage to their reputations. The after-effects of this storyline have paid dividends, including an Emmy nomination, his 14th. The submission reel that got Geary the nod was thanks to Jonathan Jackson’s (ex-Lucky) advice to go with the brothel scene over the more obvious Haunted Star confrontation scene. In the brothel scene, Luke must send Lucky away by practically embracing the fact that he is a child killer. “It was a rough one. It even had Luke telling Lucky, ‘I feel liberated for having killed your child,’ which is just a horrendous thing to say and maybe too much for people,” Geary described to TV Guide’s Michael Logan [June 6, 2012]. “But I feel comfortable with it, basically because I feel so uncomfortable. That episode is difficult for me to watch and I'm way more exposed than I'm used to being. But if you're exposing yourself to the point where you have to look away, that pretty much says you're going the distance. Of course, with Jonathan that's what you always do. For my money, he's one of the five best actors on the planet. He just unzips his heart and bleeds for ya. We've known each other for so long now that our connection is almost on a spiritual level.”

Finola Hughes (Anna) preached to the choir in a June 3rd interview for Tulsa World when she told Cindy Elavsky that soaps should not focus only on one demographic (the youth demo) when telling stories. In her mind, the focus should be on telling good stories for the audience the soap already has. Hughes referenced the canceled soaps AMC and OLTL as examples of what not to do—focus so much on making a budget without building on existing, established assets. The veteran actress has high hopes for GH, because OLTL executive producer Frank Valentini is on the job, and he has a history of getting the job done under impossible circumstances (tight budgets, limited rehearsal time, high ratings anyway). Right now, according to her, Valentini is making sure nobody on staff blabs spoilers online. The cast doesn’t even know what’s happening either, only what they need to know to perform, she said. Makes the show more exciting to watch when everyone’s surprised.

The rumor going around that the GH Fan Club Weekend’s Karaoke Night was canceled is unequivocally false. Held at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Event Center July 22, 9 p.m.-midnight, Karaoke Night’s still on, featuring Sean Blakemore (Shawn), Jill Larson (ex-Opal, AMC), Bobbie Eakes (ex-Krystal, AMC), and several more GH and AMC actors. Also on tap is a live auction to benefit the Free to Breathe charity, a charity spearheaded in the soap community by Stephanie Gatschet (ex-Madison, AMC) and a part of the National Lung Cancer Partnership. Some auction items include lunch with Gatschet, lunch with John J. York (Mac), Hats N Flats Evening with Gatschet, autographed memorabilia from Emmy winner Jonathan Jackson (ex-Lucky), and more. Order tickets through PayPal at mdmholly@earthlink.net. For more info, contact Claire Mullan.

A lot of long-time fans found it frustrating that Sonny couldn’t see something mentally wrong with his girlfriend Kate Howard. Even worse, that he refused initially to even entertain the idea of Kate’s DID when presented to him by Johnny and Jason. Ever vigilant about preserving the integrity of his character (not looking stupid), Benard told Michael Fairman in a May 1st-posted interview that he made Sonny focus on the betrayal foremost. Here’s Benard explaining: “I did not want him to seem stupid, anyway. So every time I was in a scene, I made sure Kelly [Sullivan, Kate/Connie] did not do anything to make me look stupid. So I would stop and catch it right there. So far for me … so far so good. I am sure the part of the audience that are Sonny haters will think that I am stupid anyway. But I don’t believe I have done anything that didn’t feel right in my gut, yet. I played that she was probably having an affair and I did not want to see it. But before that, there is no way Sonny would think that she is mentally ill. Even though she told him she was going to see a psychiatrist, Sonny feels like she probably has a woman problem. But there is no reason in the past, which is good, to think that she would be mentally ill. That was out of the question. So with the stress of life and what is going on with Sonny, I played that part of it stronger. And towards the end, when I thought there might be something off, that is when I started playing, ‘She is seeing some other guy.’ And Sonny did not want to believe it. So that’s my choice, you know.” Woman problem. LOL.

Plenty of fans are annoyed to no end by the influx of OLTL actors. Maurice Benard (Sonny) is not one of them, as tempting as it must be to paint him with the one-size-fits-all petty diva brush. He’s one of the few innovative thinkers who always thought cross-over integration would only be good for soaps. Now that former OLTL executive producer and current GH executive producer Frank Valentini has brought over three or four core OLTL characters to mingle with the GH ones, Benard is right on board. It helps when the leading men of OLTL are good sports and approach their GH cross-over material with the right touch of self-effacing, respectful humor. Benard said he feeds off the great dynamic with both Michael Easton (John McBain, OLTL) and Roger Howarth (Todd Manning, OLTL), and has only great things to say about his OLTL co-stars, all of them.

Back when it looked like GH would face the same cancellation as AMC and OLTL, Maurice Benard (Sonny) said he was revved up, he was even angry about the possibility of any cancellation, and he was prepared to fight. When EP Valentini came on board with OLTL head writer Ron Carlivati, nobody was more happier than Benard, who found these professionals worthy allies in the battle to save GH. “When Frank and Ron first came to GH it was like all three of us felt like, ‘This is not going to go down!’ We were like a football team and we said, ‘We are going all the way here, and this is not going to happen on our watch,’” said Benard. “But, you put that pressure on yourself, and it’s actually a good kind of pressure, because it makes you work harder. I don’t think there is any more pressure now. That goal was accomplished.”

Maurice Benard (Sonny) doesn’t live in a cave. He knows very well that he has detractors who are sick of his face on their TV screens all the time. He agrees with them! Think of all the work he has to do memorizing all those lines in a hurry. But the man has been put in an untenable position of damned if he’s on and damned if he’s not. “Now when Garin Wolf (ex-head writer, GH) came in, I was barely on and people were complaining about the show anyway. (Laughs) You can’t win for losing, right?” Benard said. “I think what they are doing now is spreading the story out all over the place. Right now, I don’t think anyone is on necessarily too much. I think Frank and Ron are doing a good job using Tony Geary (Luke), and other people they bring back from the past. But I do understand people’s feeling on that, but if the show is good, that is all that matters.” Michael Fairman interview, May 1, 2012

Kelly Sullivan (Kate/Connie) has been killing it in her DID storyline. But with such a major storyline comes major script memorizing — often on short notice with a tighter and tighter budget. That’s an awful lot of pressure for a soap newcomer recast. But usually, she’s up to the task, even if sometimes she brings home some of Connie to her baffled boyfriend. Every so often, she’ll also find herself in what she calls, “The White Room,” where everything goes white and she forgets her lines. She and Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) would half-joke about this phenomenon. Herbst even experienced it for herself. Forgetting lines and putting a co-star on the spot are awful experiences for any good actor. Sullivan feels mortified and apologizes profusely when she does it. But it happens. –Soap Opera Digest

Not a lot of actresses, least of all soap newcomers, could tackle a DID story right off the bat. Kelly Sullivan (Kate/Connie) hasn’t had too much trouble cueing up the waterworks or the double identities. Credit her ability to completely immerse herself in the emotional truth of a character as mesmerizing as Kate. A plus has been her ability to really be in the moment, for her character and her co-stars, as Maurice Benard (Sonny) recently attested to. “For me, I just looked at it as an opportunity to bring my own self into a role and knew it would be different. That's all you can really do,” Sullivan continued. “It's your version of a character. I took it as a really great challenge. I also became aware early on of the soap fans [laughs]. I don't think I was really privy to that before. It's all been a great learning experience. It's a really fun character.” Soaps.SheKnows interview by Lori Wilson, June 7, 2012

When OLTL was canceled, Michael Easton (John McBain, OLTL/GH) felt the worst for the cast/crew and the fans, who’ve invested so much in this inter- and multi-generational piece of Americana, only to see it go away without so much as a reprieve. He suspected that OLTL was a goner for a while, before the official end, and offered some insight that ABC Daytime might do well to heed with only GH left. OLTL’s situation “is a good lesson of: you can’t throw away anything anymore. You can’t have bad storylines that go on for too long, and you can’t regurgitate stories or fall back on old things. You really have to keep story moving at all times. I think that is really the focus of Frank and Ron right now at GH. They are really trying to tell as many good stories as they can and make them work, and really pull the audience in, because you can’t afford a lull anymore. It used to be ‘Well, we had six bad months. We will pull out of it!’ Now, the future of your show could be decided in those six months.” Michael Fairman, June 7, 2012 interview

Erik Valdez (90210, The New Girl) was picked to play Mob Princess’s producer, to show up on-air June 11.

Gossip for the week of 11-Jun-2012

by Carol Banks Weber

The following spumors come from Daytime Dish’s Remember this: throughout June and up till July 13th, Sam will go on believing her newborn really did die after birth, nobody else in her life will realize anything’s amiss either, Sam and John as sister and brother will also not be hinted at on-screen, and Johnny will continue to get away scott-free. Additionally, John McBain and Natalie will break up, and Maxie, not Elizabeth, may get closer to Patrick: “Maxie and Patrick will lean on each other more and more. They're going to surprise one another. Patrick/Scrubs fans don't have to worry about Liz at all.”

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