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News for the week of 25-Jun-2012

by Carol Banks Weber

GH cleaned up well at the 39th annual Daytime Emmy’s Creative Arts Awards June 17. Among its wins: outstanding original song, “Dust”; promotional announcement, “Brenda Wedding” and “Kidnapping”; casting director Mark Teschner; costume designer Mary Iannelli; and technical direction/electronic camera/video control. The canceled ABC Daytime soaps, AMC (live and direct to tape sound mixing, multiple camera editing) and OLTL (lighting direction), also nabbed awards.

The good news: this year’s Daytime Emmys wasn’t half as bad as last year’s Vegas promo. GH also picked up quite a number of wins, too: Tony Geary (Luke) with his seventh Emmy (most honored daytime actor in history) as outstanding lead, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) for her surprising supporting actress win over industry favorite Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) — even Grahn, who was tweeting all night along with the fans, was shocked, supporting actor Jonathan Jackson (ex-Lucky) for his fifth win and second win in two years, the directing team, and the entire show for best drama. The bad news: that’s about it. The AMC/OLTL tribute blew monkey wads, showing only three actors from those canceled shows standing onstage talking. Cameron Mathison (ex-Ryan, AMC) of all newcomers (probably because of his mainstream talk-show-correspondent visibility), was allowed to share the stage with daytime divas Susan Lucci (ex-Erica, AMC) and Erika Slezak (ex-Viki, OLTL), as they spoke about how wonderful their soaps were without any montage or other significant co-stars. Lucci even turned fans off by going on about herself and her new show snags, while her industry peers remained jobless or faced possible joblessness under the scepter of GH’s cancellation. And let’s not even get started on Lucci’s beauty pageantry shpiel (oh let’s…).

In the night’s most dramatic moment, former executive producer Jill Farren Phelps — replaced recently by OLTL’s EP Frank Valentini, sitting in the audience — went up to accept the Emmy for outstanding drama, beating out AMC, DOOL, and Y&R. It could’ve gone either way with her. After all, she was let go. There’s bound to be bad blood. But surprisingly, JFP went noble on us, pointing to Valentini in her emotional speech, when she said, voice trembling, “From the old guard to the new guard, keep the magic going.” Class all the way. More reaction to the Daytime Emmys: Gold Derby, We Love Soaps, Live Blog-Daytime Confidential, and GH Gossip below.

Under the banner of General Hospital gets a facelift after almost 50 years, the HLNtv.com staff/Showbiz Tonight June 12th did a feature with several of the soap’s actors and the new executive producer Frank Valentini, to explain. Valentini gave his directive for the remaining ABC Daytime soap, to keep it entertaining and relevant, “…It needs to be a part of everyone’s life in 2012… [to be] contemporary in terms of music, the way it sounds, feels, looks… is very important to me, and I think we’ve been able to do that.” Finola Hughes (Anna), whose legacy character recently returned to GH because of Valentini, vouched for the man as an actors’ executive producer. “He’s on the side of the actors. He just stays out here with us to make sure that everything’s real, entertaining, and truthful.” Veteran GH actor Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) explained that the GH now is very different from the GH then, which presents its own challenges and heightens the stakes. “There’s no room for someone that cannot take the pace, the speed; you have to be on your game.” Kristen Alderson (Starr), who was one of four core OLTL characters brought over to GH, believes there’s still a place for soaps. “Soaps deal with everyday issues, sometimes they are a little built up, under extreme circumstances… but at the same time, everyone has a soap opera story in their life, and they can relate to it in some way.”

In today’s go-go-go society where action is king and expository is boring, Maurice Benard (Sonny) went against the grain and surpassed everyone’s expectations in a talky scene with fan Michael Easton (John McBain). In these scenes, McBain demands Sonny explain what really happened to his dead sister. There are no shoot-outs, fisticuffs, or even loud verbal exchanges. Emmy-winning actor Benard was tasked with having his character go back in time and describe McBain’s half-sister’s final, violent days—at the hands of a mobster’s son. It’s a quiet, emotionally moving, revelatory moment that had Easton appreciatively stunned. “For me, personally, it was the best thing I’ve seen Maurice do the whole time I’ve been there. I thought he was fantastic. He had to recount the story [of what happened to McBain’s … sister]. It’s just two guys talking, telling the story. There’s no flashbacks, no nothing. And as he retells the story, you’d swear that you were in the room with him, living the story he’s telling.” –Soap Opera Digest, June 18, 2012

The influx of some core OLTLers has delighted veteran GH actress Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), who has become a huge fan of Roger Howarth (Todd) and Florencia Lozano (Téa) for their exciting dynamic… similar to legendary, unpredictably quirky Tony Geary (Luke). “These two guys have exactly what I like,” Grahn enthused. “They like to play. They have that Tony thing going on, especially Roger. He’s got that quirky, offbeat irreverence that I like.” –Soap Opera Digest, June 18, 2012

When Dominic Zamprogna’s (Dante) wife took a pregnancy test, he initially thought it was negative. She took it early in the morning, and wordlessly went back to bed with him, when he started reassuring her that they can always keep trying for a baby. That’s when she surprised him by stating that the pregnancy test was positive! She wanted to take a second pregnancy test, Zamprogna relayed, and that one confirmed the first. “We are very blessed and grateful that all went well, except for her nausea. That was really, really bad.” –Soap Opera Digest, June 18, 2012

When Bradford Anderson’s (Spinelli) wife/yoga instructor Kiera got pregnant, everything changed. For the actor, his already high esteem of Kiera increased exponentially. She had to face more challenges than most normal pregnant women, including a prodromal labor (on and off contractions that would last for a week, taking them to and from the hospital during L.A.’s Carmageddon), a difficult delivery (baby Juna was born with Meconium in her system and the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, forcing some quality time in the NICU), and a protein allergy suffered by the nursing baby, which required the vegetarian mom to give up dairy, soy, eggs, and nuts. “We didn’t even know it was a food allergy [for the first six months]; our doctor just thought she had colic,” explained Anderson. “It was frustrating because we didn’t know what was going on. She was still gaining weight and hitting all those physical things that the doctor looks for. She was uncomfortable, in pain, but still healthy.” This unhappiness went on until a GI specialist diagnosed the allergy to proteins in the nursing milk. Also, Juna — from the warrior name Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita — turned out to be a light sleeper, not giving her new parents much Zzzzs, and quite a restless, active baby. “My respect for [my wife], my awe of her abilities, of her patience, of her intelligence, of her instincts, have all just grown. If you marry someone, you have a pretty high opinion of them, right? But I have seen the depths of her character and it’s pretty astounding,” Anderson said. –Soap Opera Digest, “It’s A Brad Dad World” by Mara Levinsky, June 18, 2012

If it looks like Jason Thompson (Patrick) really loves the little girl playing his on-screen daughter Emma (Brooklyn Rae Silzer), it’s because he really does. What’s not to love? Silzer really is as adorable as she seems. Thompson is forever astounded by the little girl’s openness on the set and in front of the cameras. She never flubs a line, she’s always ready for spontaneous direction, and she can handle heavy material like the pretend death of a mom. “It’s just very, very easy for me to do scenes with her, no matter whether it’s fun ones or dealing with the loss of Robin. She’s just right there. She looks at you with these big brown eyes and it’s impossible not to melt.” Thompson’s such a fan, and such a fan of kids in general, that he actually wished he could work with them more, because he feels they’re more natural actors than grown-ups. “They’re just there and observing; they’re not trying to act,” he said. “I listen to her and it’s impossible not to let it just hit me. I really enjoy working with her and all the kids that we’ve had.” –Soap Opera Digest, “Pop Stars,” June 18, 2012

Soap Opera Uncensored’s Nelson Branco got the scoop on whether Trevor St. John (ex-Victor, OLTL) would make a shocking appearance on GH soon. The operative words from the actor were, “Not going to happen,” which doesn’t necessarily mean never. St. John also told Branco that doing soaps didn’t exactly give him a boost in mainstream acting opportunities, however, “The stigma still exists in some instances. But it has helped because I’m a better actor now.”

Gossip for the week of 25-Jun-2012

by Carol Banks Weber

Live tweeting with other soap fans during the Daytime Emmys June 23 was probably the best part of watching. The worst parts were watching Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) lose to Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) in the outstanding supporting actress category, enduring time-wasters like best viral video (WTF?), the same goofy space-aged soundtrack on a loop throughout, and that dreadful AMC/OLTL tribute with automaton Susan Lucci (ex-Erica, AMC).

When Grahn won, everybody was shocked. Grahn and Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda) were sure Herbst had this. No offense to Grahn or her fans but, 1. The actress didn’t have much of a story the past year compared to Herbst (death of a child), 2. The actress should by all rights be in the leading actress category, 3. Everyone assumed Herbst winning was a no-brainer, for her compelling performance as a mother faced with too much loss — her toddler Jake killed in a hit ‘n run, her ex- asking for the kid’s spare parts to help her enemy Carly’s daughter Josslyn, her relationship with Lucky falling apart, and 4. Let’s ask ourselves why Herbst wasn’t the focal point of this Jake story in the first place, why it had to be about Lucky, Luke, and Jason’s pain. There is a rumor going around that former ABC Daytime president Brian Frons never wanted Herbst around and always tried to get rid of her, or at least reduce her airtime to inconsequential. What about that?

As an aside, what the hell was up with Susan Lucci’s rat’s nest hair and the red, bargain basement disco dress? Other tweeting soap fans were disgusted by her seemingly overly rehearsed insincerity and shilling for her own career advances. LisaM tweeted: “Susan Lucci reveals her excitement over her new show, at #DaytimeEmmys! while many of her costars r still unemployed. As a fan, Tx SL!” Fans were treated to Farah Fath’s (ex-Gigi, OLTL) cutting, on point observations: “What died on Lucci's head?” “Another thing I'd like to point out is: look how Erika [Slezak] talks like a real human being...”

Wanna bitch some more? I’ve got a Facebook SZ Group

The fabulous Marlena De Lacroix (formerly of Soap Opera Weekly’s “Critical Condition”) has already put up two juicy GH columns — June 19th’s “More General Hospital: Outrageously the 'M' Word” and June 13th’s “General Hospital: Cuddly but Problematic” — and plans to post weekly throughout the summer months. There may even be a little web renovation. Go over there, read, and give her your comments. She appreciates every one.

Kirsten Storms (Maxie) and TPTB have been hard at work trying to hammer out a mutually satisfying agreement for a big return. This, according to the latest from Soap Opera Digest insiders and supposedly even confirmed by Storms’ mom. Meanwhile, the Jen Lilley (Maxie recast) fans have been Spamming TPTB’s Twitters with their campaign to keep their shiny new toy.

Both Sam and Elizabeth, who’ve in the past been attached to various men like pretty useless appendages, are currently undergoing modern updates — as strong, individual, independent women, according to a Daytime Dish rumor-dropper named, -C. –C posted last week, “Like Sam they are trying to make [Liz] more independent and strong. I wouldn't count on her turning out to be the bad guy. Neither is Sam. They are both being built up the same way for a reason. They are both mothers who have been through hell and it's going to be about their own journeys this summer instead of about being in the background of a man.” [And no, I am not –C.]

In blogging June 22nd about her return to GH (as of the third week of July), Kassie DePaiva (Blair, OLTL) reported that OLTL’s publicist, Lauri Hogan, was made GH’s and The View’s publicist — like it’s a good thing. Some members of the online soap press know better. Hogan is notorious for not doing enough to get publicity for OLTL’s cast in terms of press access, according to past comments made by Daytime Confidential’s Jamey Giddens, and my own experience. I was assigned to interview Timothy D. Stickney (ex-R.J., OLTL) a few years ago, for SoapTown USA, and given Hogan’s e-mail to contact. I did, but she never returned my queries.

General Hospital News & Gossip, Copyright © 2014 Carol Banks Weber. Published by SoapZone.com / Jeff Jungblut. No part of this page may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher. Opinions expressed on this page are those of the author and may not be representative of SoapZone.com or its advertisers. Don't steal scoops.