General Hospital Shake-Up: Jill Farren Phelps Is Out as Show Boss, New Headwriter Named!
Christmas came early for some General Hospital fans late Wednesday night, when Soaps In Depth broke the news via Twitter that Jill Farren Phelps is on her way out as executive producer.
What’s more, what soon will be ABC’s lone daytime sudser is getting a new headwriter.
Taking over the reins at GH will be Frank Valentini, who had been with One Life to Live since 1985 and served as EP there since 2003. The well-regarded show boss became a free agent last Friday when Prospect Park formally abandoned its plan to keep Llanview on the map via an online video hub. (OLTL airs its series finale on Friday, Jan. 13; the lifestyle show The Revolution seizes the soap’s time slot the following Monday.)
ABC confirmed the changing of the guard on Thursday, also announcing that Valentini’s No. 1 for the past four years, Ron Carlivati, would be taking over as GH‘s headwriter. (He replaces Garin Wolf, who joined the soap this past summer.) Both gents take office Jan. 9.
“Frank and Ron’s creativity, passion and outstanding leadership will be a welcome addition to the cast and crew, as well as viewers and longtime fans,” ABC Daytime president Brian Frons said of the transition.
Added Valentini, “I look forward to this next exciting chapter working with the wonderful cast and crew of General Hospital. This is an incredible opportunity for me to extend my passion and expertise for daytime television.”
JFP, who had helmed GH for a decade, had come under fire as of late in the wake of 1) wilting ratings that threaten to make GH extra-dispensable to ABC affiliates when Katie Couric’s daytime talker debuts next September, and 2) the announced exit of Emmy-winning fan fave Jonathan Jackson, who in leaving cited several requests of TPTB that fell on deaf ears. Similarly, another Emmy-winning GH vet, Kimberly MCullough, recently announced her plan to vacate the role of Robin, so that she may pursue a career in directing.
What do think of the GH shake-up? Is ABCD looking to bolster the show’s future or put in place the best team to prepare its swan song?