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News for the week of 24-Feb-2014

by Carol Banks Weber

When a show makes it to 13,000 episodes – coming up on February 24, that’s a big deal. For GH, the natural question is, of all those episodes, which stories stood out? A recent GH addition, William deVry (Julian) found the natural evolution of Lulu and Dante’s love story tremendously rewarding to watch. He cited the heartbreaking and honest performances and top-notch writing as assets to this almost real-time love story. Kimberly McCullough (Robin), who probably isn’t enjoying saying goodbye to her on-screen family very much right now, went with Claire Labine’s story featuring Robin and Stone facing AIDSs together. Landmark. “It featured a heterosexual and teenaged couple—an important and groundbreaking storyline to do at that time [1995]. It affected me both dramatically and personally.” Parade article by Vi-An Nguyen, February 22, 2014

The usual topics of conversation came up at a recent National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences event: daytime’s rise in ratings, daytime relevance to primetime, and that age-old soap stigma. Glee casting director Robert Ulrich (married to former soap actress Kim Ulrich [ex-Ivy, PSNS]) doesn’t see it anymore. “No one ever says, ‘Don’t bring someone in because they’re on a soap opera.’ Most of the time, in most of the shows I do, which are now done on tape, nobody has any idea, because they don’t look at their resume. Michael [Graziadei, ex-Daniel Romalotti, Y&R] for instance, when he booked ‘American Horror,’ he went on tape, and I’m sure, in our office, I can guarantee that [nobody] looked at his credits… So nobody is really bringing this prejudice about soap opera acting or soap opera people to the choosing of the people, because they’re not looking at their resumes. They don’t have any idea.”

Anthony Geary (Luke) can’t say the same. But then, nobody in soaps is as famous. That fame cost the veteran soap actor a ton of other gigs outside daytime. Geary said director Oliver Stone wanted him for the role of Salvador, but soap fame got in the way. “He said, ‘You’re perfect for the role, and I’d like to work with you, but I can’t. I can’t put you in the movie, because for the 30 seconds or 25 seconds or whatever it is that people go, ‘Oh, that’s that guy from General Hospital, they’re out of my movie.’ I said ‘I totally understand that, I get it.’ And I stopped going out for films and I settled into my niche.” –Soap Opera Network article by Kambra Clifford, February 18, 2014

When Robin Mattson (Heather) met the great Kin Shriner (Scotty) – fresh from the Texas stint, it was … meh. Mattson admitted to TV Guide’s Michael Logan that she didn’t get the Shriner appeal. It took awhile. “It’s just that the buildup was so huge. Everyone kept telling me, ‘Oh, Kin Shriner is coming back to the show! He's so fun! He's so quirky! He's so in the moment!’ It took a year for them to make us a team but once we started working together we got a little chemistry going. Then I realized what everyone was raving about.” Mattson and Shriner got going down memory lane with a little journalistic prodding from Logan. They loved the freedom, the pampering, the wild days and nights being received like Hollywood royalty, because they were. “It was the best! Things have certainly calmed down since then, haven't they, Kin? They were always sending us out on the road to do public appearances, flying us here, there and everywhere, and always first class. We really helped the network sell the show back then and we got to see the country in the process. We'd go do a country fair in Billings, Montana, and I'd be up at 5 a.m. to go out fishing and eat fresh trout right from the stream.” Shriner inserted, “And while she was doing that, I was just getting in from the night before. I'd go out carousing all evening and then have to get it together because I was booked on one of the local talk shows, like, Good Morning, Montana! Those were the days. We were young. We could get away with it. Well, not always. We were asked to leave a few establishments.” Nowadays, Mattson gets recognized as Madonna and the vets are all just happy to be asked back on the show, even if it’s to jam a series of scenes in one, budget-conscious day (“We're like orphans in Oliver. ‘More! More! Please, sir, we want some more!’ We're always on the phone talking about how happy we are. [Shriner]”)

After opening her thoughtful gifts and singing a Disney tune (“It’s Small World”) together, Kimberly McCullough (Robin) interviewed child actress Brooklyn Rae Silzer (Emma), 7, real quick. McCullough asked Silzer how it was working with Jason Thompson (Patrick). “He’s fun, plays with me a lot, and helps me with my lines.” Thompson taught her to relax her eyebrows, so she can look more natural. Silzer’s favorite GH scene was when she saw Robin and ran to her saying “Mommy,” because McCullough came back and she never really got to work with her before. McCullough’s favorite part was getting to know and hang out with Silzer. Michael Fairman, February 20, 2014

Don’t stop watching GH on account of her. That’s the takeaway from Kimberly McCullough’s (Robin) last Soap Opera Digest interview. She didn’t like hearing fans were planning on abandoning ship once her character left again. Remember, McCullough only returned in 2005 for six months, but wound up lasting seven years. For this return, however, the stay went by in a flash, way too fast for the actress. Despite some fans reading discontent and phoning it in from McCullough during last week’s goodbye scenes, the actress said she endorses head writer Ron Carlivati’s (temporary) exit story for Robin. It opens up Robin for a return somewhere down the line and really was the only idea Carlivati could’ve gone with given the time constraints. Watching Robin say goodbye to her daughter Emma was probably harder on the actress than it was on fans and especially fans who are mothers. McCullough could barely bring herself to gaze into those little eyes.

Kimberly McCullough (Robin) brought the walls down long enough to love on her co-star Jason Thompson (Patrick), who gave her a most unique friendship while filming their popular Scrubs story. It’s one of the most honest, poignant portraits of both McCullough as narrator and Thompson, the subject of her admiration and love, written on the eve of her next GH departure and going beyond the usual PR bullet points. Here’s an excerpt: “When I was a kid, I kept my work life and private life very separate. I had my friends at school and when I went to work, I was surrounded by adults who loved and supported me. It wasn’t until I came back to the show after an eight-year hiatus that I was able to develop adult friendships. So when I first met Jason, I was nervous. I tried to keep a distance simply because that’s what I had always done. This is how I believed I stayed ‘normal’ and not sucked into all the Hollywood bullshit. But there was something about this dude from Canada that helped me let my guard down and entertain the idea of becoming friends with my onscreen love interest.

“We tease each other a lot. We are both good at that. He’s better. He’s better because he’s such an amazing observer. To this day, he still teases me about my fake yawn. Apparently, I yawn when I’m nervous or afraid of conflict. I yawn to get out of the situation. How passive aggressive of me, right? Anyway, I notice myself doing it sometimes and have to laugh because he’s so right. Our banter has always been top-notch. But in the case of bantering, I’m not sure which came first, Robin and Patrick or Kimberly and Jason. Onscreen and off, it seems like our favorite thing to do. People in the make-up room always say we argue like a divorced couple who are still friends. I’d say that’s accurate.”

When talking up GH’s 13,000th episode — on February 24, 2014 — Tyler Christopher (Nikolas) and Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) found themselves trying as actors to justify TPTB’s decision to throw their characters together at Lucky’s expense not so long ago. For Christopher to go against his character’s intrinsic nobility like that, it had to be a grand love he couldn’t resist. That’s what he used to justify going after his brother’s significant other, which Herbst vouched for while acknowledging the controversy of that writing move. Christopher tries to explain: “And the one thing I was told at the time was to not to try and defend the character, and [it was] difficult for me to not do that. Because, how do you defend something, a betrayal of that nature? And the only thing that I came up with was that he’s truly in love, completely head over heels in love with Elizabeth. And then, ok, I’m away from the show for two years, so we go away from that, and now we come back, and that’s one thing that I’m trying to reintroduce into the story, is that it has to be that way. Otherwise, why would he do that? We spent so many years creating this persona of Nikolas being this upstanding, very noble [guy] of the highest morality, and then in that one instance, we strip it all away. So how do I bring that back? And that’s the only thing I could come up with as an actor and me personally, is complete and utter love.” –Soap Opera Network interview by Kambra Clifford, February 20, 2014

Marc Samuel (Felix) asked the universe to help improve his dialogue and the universe sent him in to GH to make history as the next Amy Vining who just happens to be gay, no big deal. Doing a soap has helped the actor tremendously with switching gears on a moment’s notice, a definite leg up in the competition. GH is also quietly revolutionizing the content of its characters by featuring one of the hottest surprise hit love stories to ever grace daytime. The Felix-and-Brad love story has taken over gradually, organically, and naturally, making audiences cry for more (at least this audience). With the insertion of Lucas into the mix, it’s bound to get deliciously complicated. Samuel realized during the interview that he was also a part of another history-making facet of the love story: diversity in numbers. “Just now, I realized the triangle is a nice mix or races. One black, white and Asian. I didn’t even think of that to be honest with you. I’m going to give a high five to GH for that too. Those things are hugely important because when someone looks at the television set and they see themselves or a representation of their ethnic group, their religion, even their state. They’re like ‘oh man, they’re looking out for me.’ It makes you want to participate and be a part of the show.” As intrinsic to the show as Samuel has been with some core members — Carly and Patrick, for one — he’s also itching to be in Sonny and Shawn’s orbit. Those guys are cool to him.

When Samuel isn’t holding his own with the vets at GH, he’s taking classes, doing voiceovers, honing his skills, and even appearing in a few flicks: Hot Guys With Guns – showing in the film festival circuit and out this spring on limited release, and the upcoming Eric Roberts shortie, Trust Me. –The Backlot interview by Jim Halterman, February 14, 2014

When Parry Shen (Brad) isn’t watching some asshole get carted out of a basketball game for heckling or making colorful pancakes at fans’ Twitter requests, he’s busy promoting his directorial debut in a movie about some friends who encounter alien life on the way to Vegas. The Dark Sky film, Unidentified, Shen described, is like Hangover meets Paranormal Activity.

Shen’s love story on GH is what’s really taking hold with daytime audiences who don’t even notice the gay part. They’re just extremely frustrated by the stalling tactics to Brad and Felix’s inevitable romance. To go from a minor, easily dismissed character to a contender in a burgeoning love triangle? All Shen. He saw his opportunity to make Brad into more than just a lab tech dick in a scene with Spinelli, right after Ellie got hit by a BEEP-BEEP. “I always saw a potential for Brad when I was reading these lines. There could be some humor in the snarkiness. I did this a couple of times, and it seemed to work. Whenever I would get a script, I would try to find the funny, but not be too outrageous.” Shen pulled a Geary by replacing the emphasis on “car” in the line, “Maybe because she took all that time off after getting hit by that CAR, that’s why she lost the job,” with “BEEP-BEEP,” accentuating Brad’s dick factor and Spinelli’s distaste. “It would make Bradford [Anderson/Spinelli] elicit more of how callous Brad was, and the writers liked it. Now when I get the scripts, the writers are writing that stuff in! I’m all, ‘Oh, good! I don’t have to come up with it anymore! [laughs]’”

Buzzworthy Radio interview, podcast #547 by NaVell Lee

Casting needs the right 20-something actress to take on a bad girl role. No minorities need apply. Just blondies. For contract.

Gossip for the week of 24-Feb-2014

by Carol Banks Weber

Friday, February 21st’s episode was perhaps the best example of GH’s natural gift with rhythm, timing, and character sequence. Almost every character featured in the episode delivered dialogue like a heavyweight standup comedian or jazz artist, filling the spaces with unique energy. Kristen Alderson (Kiki) ranted and raved charmingly about her dilemma with hard-lining Michael before a befuddled but adoring Michael Easton (Silas). The same with Chad Duell (Michael) backpedaling and almost schoolgirl-obsessing in front of his dad, Sonny, who mastered the underpinning of diplomacy and dry humor with fewer words. Lucy, who has suffered from excess since her return, benefitted greatly from the duet dynamic of Tracy in the police station, sparring over the missing Scotty and Luke, finishing each other’s lines.

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