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News for the week of 30-Dec-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

The annual GH Fan Club Weekend for 2014 will take place July 31-August 4 at the same spot as last summer, Studio City’s Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel. So far, events scheduled include the kick-off cocktail party on July 31, the main GH luncheon, August 2, and the return of the “Blast From The Past” cast event, August 3. “Blast From The Past” turned out so well with cast and fans last summer for the GH 50th anniversary celebration that it’s back. Tickets go on sale January 13, 2014.

Executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati went over the highs and the lows of 2013 in Michael Fairman’s December 26th interview. Definitely integrating OLTL characters then having to reintegrate them successfully as different ones was high on Carlivati’s list of proud accomplishments. Valentini loved being able to bring back the Nurses Ball for GH’s 50th anniversary. When it came to bringing Robin back to her family and friends, both Carlivati and Valentini agreed they had to do it gradually, in emotionally gratifying installments that made the return last.

Valentini (ever the party line diplomat) played the role of the stalwart, stoic, almost scripted EP to the hilt, giving all the right, proper answers, limiting the emotionally charged personalization, while Carlivati picked on the usual topics in his usually over-focused, overly sensitive manner (he again referenced the bullying on Twitter by critical fans). Taking over GH after ABC Daytime canceled AMC and OLTL could’ve gone either way. They were cognizant of the risks. GH could’ve just as easily been another soap dead in the water, unsalvageable. Valentini avoided the dramatics in explaining what took place in turning things around. “I think again that kind of excitement and infectious energy starts with the writing. And when the actors are turned on by the material they are being given, they want to work harder,” he said. “I am mostly there to be supportive, and be someone to bounce ideas off of, or to ask questions to. I am very comfortable on the floor. I was a stage manager for many years. I also have been a director for many years. I am comfortable being close to where the actors are and with the pace in which we work. It is so fast, that you want to be able to literally think on your feet, and so I think best when I am on my feet. You don’t ever want to feel like if anyone’s there, and they need something answered, you can’t rush right in and sort of help out. I also think the big difference is the show was about to be cancelled when we started, and now we are in such good shape. That would make anyone happy if you knew you were going to keep your job.”

Carlivati was more dramatic about the turn-around, not beating around the bush about the stakes. (He is the writer.) They felt GH was in real danger of going away. “We went through a pretty dark time where there was this sword hanging over our heads, and it didn’t matter how well we did, what the ratings were, or what the quality of the product was of what we put out. You felt that the sword was hanging ready to chop off your head and you feel downtrodden. And when you live and work like that for so long, and then coming into General Hospital, and I don’t want to speak for Frank, but we both felt like this could be just a six-month job. Knock on wood … it has not turned out that way. All the remaining network soaps are doing well. Everyone seems to be talking about them and writing about them. We definitely feel the support and the enthusiasm from the network. So that is obviously a much better atmosphere to work in. It makes you more excited, it fosters your creativity, and it makes you think … ‘We’re not going anywhere.’”

Rebecca Herbst’s (Elizabeth) husband Michael Saucedo (ex-Juan) co-wrote with Nik Price the first installment in an e-book series about a fictional daytime actress — inspired by Herbst — named Liberty Strong. Herbst’s middle name is Liberty, she’s forever joking about her alter-ego pulling things in real life, and now, her face is on the cover of the first installment entitled, “Dead Extra,” recently released. “The idea came about as a combination of batting ideas around with my co-writer, Nik…, and a running joke with Becky,” Saucedo said. “She's always blaming things on her alter-ego, Liberty, .... When someone finishes the last cup of coffee, Liberty drank it. Or if there's an In-N-Out Burger wrapper hidden in the side pocket of the truck, Liberty left it there. Actually, now that I think about it, Liberty gets my truck dirty and eats a lot of my food!”

Look for Victor Cassadine (in the form of actor Thaao Penghlis/ex-Tony DiMera, DOOL) to return next year.

Gossip for the week of 30-Dec-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Teresa Castillo (Sabrina) is pregnant IRL, according to her husband who may have tweeted or Facebooked a confirmation then deleted it later.

What a lovely interview Michael Fairman has up now with head writer Ron Carlivati and executive producer Frank Valentini, as they wrap up the year that was GH. It’s too bad they couldn’t have thought up a better reunion for Sonny and Robin, like they painstakingly did — in gentle, teasing bites — for everyone else including Maxie. Tunnel vision strikes again. They also said they wanted to give some rooting value to Patrick and Sabrina, so that when Robin finally did show up at their wedding, he’d have reason to pause. “There are a lot of people watching our show who weren’t there during the heyday of Patrick and Robin. They fell in love with the Patrick and Sabrina story as she ultimately emerged as the swan at the Nurses Ball. We are really proud of the story we told, and now it’s about figuring out the next chapter,” Carlivati said. Too bad that reason was missing in considerable chunks during the Purina courtship, which played more as inadvertent kiddie porn than adult romance.

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