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News for the week of 25-Mar-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Katie Couric goes in depth to explore the arc of the iconic soap opera General Hospital for a special 50th anniversary, 20/20 edition, April 6, 9 p.m.-10 p.m. ET. In the special, “The Real Soap Dish,” Couric goes on location to the studios for behind-the-scenes footage and interviews some of the major cast members, including Tony Geary (Luke), Genie Francis (Laura), Maurice Benard (Sonny), Rick Springfield (Noah), and Jack Wagner (Frisco). She’ll also pay homage to past GH cast members who’ve moved on to become major stars (Demi Moore, John Stamos, Kristin Davis, Richard Simmons).

The jaded Tony Geary (Luke) automatically assumed he and Genie Francis (Laura) would go on a CGI adventure and not the real thing. But for the 50th anniversary of the iconic soap opera, only the best would do. Geary told TV Guide’s Michael Logan (March 19) that he was pleasantly surprised by what executive producer Frank Valentini had in store for them; it took the multi-Emmy-winning veteran back to Gloria Monty’s on-location extravagances. “These episodes are pure nostalgia — the kind of high-stakes, high-energy, really well-conceived plotting that's reminiscent of the Luke and Laura glory days. When I saw in the script that Genie and I would be getting on a helicopter to go chase down Lulu, I figured we'd fake it on the set with CGI or something. But then [exec producer] Frank Valentini says, ‘We're going out tomorrow morning! I'll have a real helicopter in the parking lot!’ It reminded me of the great Gloria Monty era when you'd get a script and think, ‘How are we ever going to shoot this?’ Then Gloria would suddenly say, ‘C'mon, honey, we've got a boat!’ or ‘You're jumping out of an airplane. Let's go!’”

Originally Kelly Monaco (Sam) was set to dance onstage for the April Nurses’ Ball with her real-life Dancing With The Stars professional dance partner, Val Chmervokskiy. But because he’s currently on this season’s DWTS, Monaco’s been paired up with his brother Maksim.

When Lucy Coe told the GH nurses last week that the Nurses’ Ball partnered up with amFar (The Foundation for AIDS Research), she wasn’t kidding. GH partnered up with the important HIV research foundation in real life, a first, to do this story right.

Kristina Wagner (Felicia) was as nervous about reuniting on-screen with her real-life ex-husband Jack Wagner (Frisco) as her character. While the two are on friendly terms, they’ve both been through the wringer. Even though the reunion was only a scripted one, accepting and playing it presented an emotional challenge for the veteran actress. She said she leaned on her female GH colleagues, people like Lynn Herring (Lucy) and Finola Hughes (Anna), to talk it over, as well as regular viewings of The Good Wife on CBS, which depicts a broken relationship between a husband and wife. “These women who have come back have been very loving and supportive and I think they mean the best. So I'm feeling grateful for all of these women who talk to me when I need to talk about it, Lynn and Finola, all of them. Anybody who is my age [laughs]. Nothing against the younger generation; I love them dearly!” –Soap Opera Digest, March 25, 2013

Kelly Sullivan (Kate/Connie) owes an enormous debt to co-star Lisa LoCicero (Olivia) for welcoming her to GH not so long ago. Before anyone else from the cast, LoCicero reached out to Sullivan in a text, “What’s up Bensonhurst?” to kind of break the ice and let the GH newcomer know she’s available to help get warmed up any time. “I told her I'd never forget that gesture of kindness and friendship. She's one of my dearest friends at work and I just love her.” Shortly into the new soap gig, then-head writer Garin Wolf let her know ahead of time that Kate would splinter into another, darker personality. Sullivan’s the one who asked if it was similar to what happened in the hit movie, Black Swan, taking Wolf a little by surprise, because yeah, it was a lot like that. Right now, Kate/Connie is off-screen receiving integration therapy, the actress surmised, and would return, just as soon as the next story’s right. “I think they're trying, story wise... to find the next place for my character... and just timing wise, it just worked out that I can kind of go away off camera, get my integration and then come back, so I actually haven't been around. I don't know what's going on. I just get little texts and I read the tweets.”

–Access Hollywood on, March 21, 2013 interview by Jolie Lash

Richard Simmons and his short-shorts will make a comeback next week as Lucy Coe’s special guest choreographer for the upcoming Nurses’ Ball. Of course, the fitness guru is mad for executive producer Frank Valentini’s leadership skills, comparing him to “Michelangelo's David who comes out of Florence into L.A. He is very sensitive and he cares about the show and the people, and he is really one of a kind. It’s been a wonderful experience to come back.” –Soap Opera Digest, April 1, 2013

One of the big surprises of this season 16th’s Dancing With The Stars March 18th premiere, according to the first winner of the show, Kelly Monaco (Sam), was GH co-star Ingo Rademacher’s contemporary dance with Kym Johnson. The modern dance, full of sensual lunges and lifts, landed the pair high on the scoreboard with a 20—not the highest (24) but not bad. Monaco fairly beamed with pride for her co-star when surveying this season’s contestants for Good Morning America the next morning.

Gossip for the week of 25-Mar-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Ingo Rademacher (Jax) will return to GH only for the short-term, because he feels he needs to focus more on his Dancing With The Stars. He doesn’t see himself as multi-talented as the first DWTS winner, Kelly Monaco (Sam), so he has to try harder. Maurice Benard (Sonny) did a nice thing, tweeting to Rademacher some words of encouragement March 19: “Thumbs up @IngoRademacher. Just to be out there is an accomplishment. Keep going.”

Luke rules Scotty out as the perpetrator of Lulu’s disappearance through a series of key circumstances. Luke, Laura, and Dante come upon possibly the real culprit—Helena—when they open the door and catch her in bed with Ethan. Helena claims she’s innocent, while Ethan agrees to be her boy toy to avoid getting his throat cut (or really went into league with her this time). Maybe another villain is behind this.

The Nurses’ Ball will bring plenty of welcome and unwelcome surprises. Most of the acts will please and delight the audience, especially Patrick singing an emotional duet with his darling daughter and possibly Epiphany bringing the house down with her vocal performance.

Jim Romanovich is the executive producer for several TV shows, including Marie Osmond’s talk show on Hallmark. He got Y&R its 40th anniversary, but tweeted last week that he was unable to convince ABC Daytime to do the same for GH’s 50th.

Romanovich also tweeted, March 19, his relief for pal Sean Kanan (A.J.), finally enjoying a story on GH that he should’ve gotten a long time ago: “Glad my friend Sean Kanan is getting a true AJ storyline. He was never supposed to be a punchline.”

Marlena De Lacroix noticed the same lackluster, dowdy, mousy Laura Spencer the rest of the viewing audience has in this mixed nostalgic bag. While most of the other ongoing stories are working, De Lacroix wrote in her March 23rd blog entry, “General Hospital: Think Of The Real Laura,” the one featuring Laura with Luke and Scotty fails miserably on several points. Mainly, De Lacroix doesn’t understand why Laura isn’t allowed to evolve at all. “The worst part of this travesty – the real sacrilege – is the way they are writing Laura. Totally passive. Looking vacant and confused. Mostly just standing around. Why waste the valuable time of the very accomplished Genie Francis — and ours? Let me re-iterate: This is no slam on Ms. Francis. She is simply given nothing to do but stand there in that ridiculous wedding dress with those godawful peplums and try to look concerned during those anemic arguments between Kin Shriner’s Scotty and Tony Geary’s Luke (how can any writer go so wrong with such accomplished actors?).” It’s true. Laura just stands there while the two men in her life bellow, strain for the next, best cutting insults, gesticulate wildly, and fight over her like an inanimate prize. And that matronly wedding dress! What were they thinking in wardrobe? Lucy Coe must’ve grabbed a straight jacket from Ferncliff by mistake on her escape out.

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