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News for the week of 30-Sep-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Some behind-the-scenes gems c/o Carolyn Hinsey’s September 20th Tainted Dreams column:

Soaps can’t use newborns straight out of the womb. Babies must be at least 15 days or older, by law. If they’re 15 days-five months, they can only stay on the set for 20 minutes max. Hence, the twin rule. Even babies are paid ($413 a baby per day).

Writers getting bonuses for every successful new character on a soap is nothing but an urban myth, according to executive producer Frank Valentini. He said: “I have no idea where that rumor started. Writers tend to write for the characters they know better, but it’s always within the context of what’s best for the show. For example, we’ve got a lot of story coming up for [new character] Ava, but it’s all about Sonny and his family.”

There’s a sensible reason for not continuing a scene to the next day. $$$$. The director doing the last scene gets a segment fee if another director picks up on the same scene the next day.

It’s winter, but soap characters are practically in their bikinis and Speedos®. What gives? The hot studio lights make filming an eternally summer season. No one wants to see the characters sweating like pigs.

Maurice Benard (Sonny) and Jane Elliot (Tracy) treated fans to a special video message after the General Hospital received one million likes on Facebook. Benard thanked fans for going along with him on his character’s brave, bi-polar ride recently.

Sean Kanan (A.J.) made a Blog Talk Radio appearance last week in Daytime After Dark to joke around about his character’s murderous plight. Line of the day: “There could be a lot of problems if A.J. takes his clothes off in jail.”

Parry Shen (Brad; MTV’s Better Luck Tomorrow; Hatchet; The New Guy) isn’t gay. He’s just a damned good actor, and graphic novelist (“Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology”/The New Press), and public speaker, and my new hero. And a damned good social network presence on both his Twitter and Facebook. Naturally engaging, funny, and real, real, smart — you should see his LEGO® art with his GH character and notes about how he helps his five-year-old son improve his reading skills — more fans should like him. I already do based on his riveting, layered portrayal of a scumbag lab tech with the heart of a lovable, but bullied nerd.

When first taking on the new GH role, William deVry (Derek/Julian) didn’t have the benefit of all the character background or info. In many ways, he had to wing it, flesh out the character for himself and infuse his trademark humor into the situation to balance out the sobering, cutthroat mob angle. He said he puts humor in to avoid turning his characters into b/w cartoons and waits for TPTB to tell him to reel it back or not. So far, so good. –ABC Soaps in Depth

Kimberly McCullough (Robin) had many ideas about her character’s return, which she shared with her friend and mentor, executive producer Frank Valentini. One of them was that she couldn’t imagine a brainwashed Robin, despite the rumors. It just wouldn’t make sense for Robin’s escape and the audience would rather not be put through another brainwashing story. The trick is how Robin deals with another woman mothering her child, Emma, while showing her intrinsic unselfishness as Patrick’s wife.

Gossip for the week of 30-Sep-2013

by Carol Banks Weber

Executive producer Frank Valentini allegedly uses a “binge and starvation” approach to keeping GH alive. So far, it’s working. Daytime Dish insider Happy New Years claimed September 27th that it’s the “same strategy” employed last year, “which won them a renewal: ‘launch fall with a blockbuster September then keep up the momentum with returns and reveals all fall/winter long.’ Instead of timing all your events and surprises for sweeps only, this strategy works to prove GH can retain its viewership.”

Wonder why all of a sudden every story’s hitting a climax at record pace? Valentini asked head writer Ron Carlivati for it, according to HNY (September 22, 2013). As in a mandate “across the board this fall.” As the Jeromes go through their hit list, cleaning up the cast for TPTB, keep in mind what your beloved EP did on OLTL before it was through. HNY has. “I heard a few actors have received edited scripts the day before taping. They are cutting some things very close indeed now…. My source told me FV reassured KSu and as a result she was blind-sided…. Perhaps SK would benefit from speaking to Scott Clifton? SC also took his concerns to FV over his character being written into a corner.”

Guess what? Sean Kanan’s (A.J.) starting to believe the rumors he’s a goner. Actors. They never learn, right fans?

William deVry (Derek/Julian), it turns out, is a really nice, accessible guy on Twitter. Just don’t mess with him, trolls. Last week, he went on a blocking spree like some social network newbie, broadcasting the proceedings in a strangely riveting countdown (“What is that today? 8?”) using creative endearments like “Ding Dong.” Seems some of those trolls had alleged multiple accounts with which to lodge their attacks. Even Steve Burton (ex-Jason; Dylan, Y&R) got into the act, sending deVry a sympathy text: “Welcome to Twitter buddy....ugh.” The debate turned into a troll fiesta fast, when the subject heated up over GH’s preferential treatment of OLTL and newbie interlopers over veterans. deVry really stirred the pot with this tweet: “For those of u who think u kno it all, u r very annoying to those of us who do! To all unhappy GH ‘fans.’ Oops..groupies.”

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