General Hospital Team Talks of 'Rebuilding,' Plus 7 More Scooplets (Including a 'Jolie' Update)

Some may say the future of soaps seems grim — but the mood was anything but during General Hospital‘s showing at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Thursday. Several key cast members — including Anthony Geary, Kelly Monaco, Nancy Lee Grahn and Laura Wright, to name a few — and executive producer Frank Valentini took the stage to discuss the future of the ABC sudser — which is nearing its 50th anniversary — as well as preview what’s ahead for all of your Port Charles (and Llanview!) faves.

Here are eight key takeaways from the panel discussion:

ADDING NEW LIFE | At the start of the panel, Valentini was careful to note that he came in earlier this year to remodel, not rebuild General Hospital. “I think the show was in terrific shape, but there needed to be some tweaks.” And now? “It’s much more my taste and my sensibility for the show to go just a little bit faster,” he shared. “I also thought there were some key characters missing, not in terms of who they were, but certain archetypes that I thought were really important to bring on the show.” Valentini explained that his choice to bring on “some of the people from One Life to Live was a little bit of a way to honor that audience and also to create story that was good for the current cast of General Hospital.” For example, “John McBain being a police officer [on OLTL] was a good fit to merge into the PCPD.”

RELATED |
General Hospital Casting News: Kirsten Storms to Return! Jen Lilley Out!

A SHOCKING DEVELOPMENT | As you’ve probably figured out by watching General Hospital this week, Kimberly McCullough is back, baby! “Robin is back for a little bit,” Valentini confirmed. The EP explained that while the actress had chosen to leave the show to pursue her dream of directing prior to his joining the series, they quickly bonded and after a few weeks of working together, “I said to her that this is such a wonderful thing that [she'd created], so let’s try to keep it alive as opposed to snubbing it out. She’s open to it, and we’re going to try to work together.” Added McCullough’s on-screen cohort Jason Thompson, with a laugh, “And who doesn’t want to do a story about electric-shock [therapy]?”

THINK OF LAURA | For the foreseeable future, Luke Spencer will remain Laura-less. “Unfortunately, contracts forbid us from even discussing that,” Valentini said of the possibility of Genie Francis — who is currently on The Young and the Restless — returning to her iconic GH role. “I’ll just say we’re big fans of Genie’s and we wish her all the best — but I think we’re pretty solid right now.”

CHANGING IT UP | Michael Easton, who plays stalwart cop John McBain, discussed his “bittersweet” move from the axed One Life to Live to General Hospital. “It’s been exciting to come over and work with these guys. It’s been new energy for me… I was in a stupor a little bit [at the end of OLTL], and these guys have snapped me out of it. I’m really happy to be there.” And his new castmates are happy to have him. Shared Maurice Benard (Sonny), “I love that there’s new blood. They’re great… They’re bringing a different element to Sonny that wasn’t there before; maybe a little bit more vulnerable.” And speaking of Port Charles newbies that we love…

RELATED | SOAPnet Sets Dates for General Hospital‘s ‘Gold Medal’-Winning Moments

BLAIR WILL BE BACK! |  Valentini told TVLine following the panel discussion that, “Kassie [DePaiva] will definitely be coming back” as Blair Cramer. The showrunner also promised that it will “absolutely” come out that Todd did not kill his brother Victor over on OLTL. “We have all these great surprises to play out,” Valentini teased.

NO NAT… FOR NOW | On the possibility of further complicating John McBain’s love life by at some point getting his Llanview love Natalie to Port Charles, Valentini confided to TVLine that “legal issues, in terms of the Prospect Park deal [that almost gave OLTL an online home]” were among the reasons why Melissa Archer has yet to at least cameo. “I can’t really talk about it, but I will say that Melissa is a very close friend of mine and I adore her, and she’s a phenomenal actress.” (Easton, for his part, told us he’d love to reunite with Archer, since the “one-sided phone calls” between John and off-screen Nat are getting to be a bit much.)

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER | Valentini, for one, is thrilled about General Hospital‘s upcoming “great” time slot change. “I like the way that we’re being positioned with the other shows surrounding us. I know that the network is doing a big push to inform the audience about the time change.” What’s more, the soap is planning “an umbrella story” leading into the move, and has “a lot of really fun surprises [and] terrific stuff coming on in September.”

STAYING POWER | And when it comes to life for General Hospital beyond its upcoming 50th anniversary, Valentini is “confident. All I can say is [ABC] invited us here [to TCA], and to me that’s a great sign.” He added that in anticipation of the show’s big 5-0, the soap will be “rolling out lots of different things between now and April — and past then… So, you just need to watch the show to catch the energy and the momentum that we have.”

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172 Comments
  1. Tam says:

    I can’t watch John without Natalie. It’s wrong. I especially won’t watch him with Sam.

  2. RedRobin says:

    Forget that McBam crap. I want Natalie back! John is the only reason i watch GH and Natalie is his soul mate! Jolie forever!

  3. Dale Reshotnik says:

    I’m so loving GH right. now!!! It’s better than ever!!!! KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK FRANK & RON!!!, I WAS A BIG OLTL IT WOULD B GREAT TO C MELISSA ARCHER ON GH!! HERE’S TO 50 YEARS OF GH THE BEST DAYTIME SHOW!!!!!

  4. Rick says:

    GH has a new energy. Exciting fast paced storylines. Its just not the Sonny,Carly,JAson show anymore.You care about what happens to everyone.GH needs to bring on Vincent Irizarry to play Dr David Hayworth from AMC.He could shake GH’s halls up.

  5. EmA says:

    As someone who has watched GH on and off from its beginning (almost 50 years), I am so relieved to read this article. I thought for sure GH was on its way out, having watched AMC & OLTL get cancelled, along with other long-running soaps on competitor channels. I am glad TPTB at ABC seem to have rethought their plans, especially in light of the disappointing ratings for the replacement programming. As for EP Valentini, thank you for returning to stories with heart and heat. Bringing back Anna Devane and Heather Webber, and introducing OLTL’s Todd Manning and John McBain to the mix, has made the show better than ever. Here’s hoping ABC realizes that soap fans are devoted and loyal, and we DO have spending power.

    • Ang says:

      Love you post!

    • sunnyandblessed says:

      True but also understand the its the fans of OLTL and GH that have come together to make this soap stay on the air with higher ratings. So lets not cause the fans to stop watching cause GH with be another pass soap like OLTL, AMC, TGL, and many other soaps that didn’t last. So understand and appreciate the fans because we have alot of power. GH fans alot of OLTL fans came over to GH so see their characters and if want to see more not all but a few so they to can be devoted to GH like you. Lose them you lose your precious GH and I’m a GH fan and OLTL fan as well. They need all the characters to make this soap work and stay on the air. The writer’s need to understand that as well, no viewers, no soap.

  6. grace says:

    Please no more invasion and lets concentrate on Gh actors and give them storylines that we can watch. Todd is on to much and hell NO to Blair.

  7. Rosemarie says:

    Thanks so much for posting this fantastic article!!! As a lifelong fan of GH (and all the ABC soaps),I’m happy to see that GH and its cast received the respect they overwhelmingly deserve by being invited to the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. Here’s to many,many more years of GH! Hope All My Children and One Life to Live return one day,too.

  8. luckyme777777 says:

    I am loving GH i have watched since the begining i am very pleased with the McBain and Todd characters i am very disapointed with the Starr character i cannot watch the show when she is on i am sorry. I am loving the twists and turns and i am so happy Robin is back!!!! Jason Thompson is breaking my heart playing Patrick one hellava actor you have there not a dry eye in the house!!!!! If there is anyway somehow to bring Jakey back you would be pleasing so many of GHs audience also we need one HAPPILY EVER AFTER please so can Jason and Sam and baby please reunite?? I love the show and you are doing great HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!

  9. ripper says:

    I need Natalie in my soap life. Please bring her on.

  10. Me... says:

    K. Monaco’s shoes are really stupid and ugly, sorry! Everyone else is pretty and cool! Love GH.

    • madeline says:

      She looks like Minnie Mouse.

    • Kelly Monaco is the best dressed actress on GH, She is bad ass! How old are you 50! I could care less who comes and goes I just want my JASAM back! Sam is way to pretty for McBain, That long ugly hair of his makes me want to throw up in my mouth! Hell, when there is a kissing scene between Sam and McUgly I get all mixed up with both of their long hair flying all over the place! GH will never be the same without Jason and Sam, their chemisty is untouchable! Shame on GH for not doing whatever they could to keep Steve Burton from leaving. Now my only hope is for Kelly Monaco to go to Y&R as well! The GH that I have always loved is becoming a distant memory. Peace out GH, I mean OLTL, oh wait, I mean GH…..Who knows what to call this show anymore! The true GH fans know that we need Phelps back, hit the road Frank!

  11. I’m so glad that Kimberly is back and I’m LOVING GH!! Keeping me on the edge of my seat and that’s what I like in a tv show or movie!

  12. gdjdhd says:

    As of right now, as long as Todd’s on, I’ll tune in. It’s not that I don’t like the other GH characters. They grew on me, but Todd keeps things interesting and he’s a sight for sore eyes. :3

    As for Natalie, NO NAT ATTACK!

  13. Everybody have story go on but Elizabeth need her own story really.Truly Steve Burton is leave GH.We be wait for Elizabeth story to start every time you list to they writers bull carp tell us something else again.

  14. Vicki says:

    Michael Easton & Melissa Archer had a unique chemistry. Natalie made John a much more interesting character. She’s the one who pulled him out of his demons. He went through full redemption and finally made his commitment to Natalie, after 8 long years of ups and downs (more downs than ups), so I think it’s time that we see John being happy with Natalie and raising his son! As it is, he has lost the first 2 years of his kid’s life, and John not being there is just wrong. Him kissing on another woman completely negates the character development he went through the past 8 years! John is such a deep and strong character, and what we saw of him towards the end with Natalie and Liam (being happy) needs to be completed. Otherwise, his romping around Port Charles and hanging around a woman who is a virtual stranger will just ruin him in my eyes.

  15. Rick says:

    Love the direction GH going. The existing characters are much more fun to watch and the addition of OLTL charaters is brilliant. I personally would love to see Natalie and Blair join the canvas, as well as Viki.

  16. JASon says:

    Frisco!!! Frisco!!! Frisco!!!! Donnelly!!! Donnelly!!! Donnelly!!!!

  17. Jenny says:

    I need Jolie back really soon :(

  18. em says:

    I used to watch OLTL on and off, but I was very skeptical about the “new blood” coming into GH and even when all the OLTL stars started coming in, I found it to be pretty forced. But after Starr’s accident/trial got wrapped up, I’m more interested in GH now than I have been in at least a year. Todd and McBain have been integrated really well in very logical ways. And the storylines with the regulars have been really interesting, too – without having to resort to mob wars and the high-production big explosions.

  19. dea says:

    I would watch if MA came over. I would love to see her hook up with Johnny for a while They were both from AC and are both the same age…they could have a great back story…it writes itself….also bring Liam too..love that babe.

  20. I'mcuteandSouthern says:

    YAY! The news about Kassie DePaiva’s (Blair) return made my day! I had a sneaking suspicion it was only a matter of time, but it’s nice to have it in print! Blair has been gone 2 days and it feels like 10 years. Hope Blair brings the “boys” (Jack & Sam) to Port Charles. I want my Manning Family back in all their glorious dysfunction.

  21. StupidPeopleShutUp says:

    Thanks for an excellent piece and as always, your generous and steady coverage of GH, and the real life backstage ABC soap opera.

  22. Kristen says:

    I wish Natalie would crossover. Figure out this legal mess GH! John needs the love of his life :)

  23. mike says:

    GH is better than ever. This is a solid show and this is coming from someone who doesn’t even watch network tv. I just watch Showtime, HBO, and AMC. The only network show I watch is GH on ABC. Tell that to the people who care about ratings…

  24. Maria Reis says:

    I am still convinced that this PP is being used as the scapegoat for not bringing Natalie to the canvas. If the fans saw her with John they would not want the boring, eternally pouting Sam as a love interest for John. Talk about a forced pairing! I find them totally mediocre when put in a scene together, ME does not shine at all with this character. The fact is if they can bring John, Blair and Tea they certainly could bring Natalie but that of course would eclipse Sam. JMO

    • Kristen says:

      This is so true. They just seem so dull. I guess it’s because John is a solemn character by nature and Sam is just so monotone. I feel bored watching them. I don’t know if the statements about PP are true, but I hope she comes eventually

  25. Sherriesse says:

    I want Natalie! This better mean Natalie and MA’s coming if what they have said is true about PP. I tend not to believe. Think they thought John and Sam would be a hit and they are nothing but a horrible snoozefest. They underestimated how many still want Natalie and making excuses for their mistake by coming up with this PP wouldn’t allow Nat or MA because of contract reasons Explain the others that were signed with PP and on GH then. If they’re not lying then in a bit we’ll hear about MA and Natalie coming to GH.

  26. Toni says:

    I am so excited to hear of Kassie DePaiva’s return to GH. Started watching it for her return 2 weeks ago and was surprised how much I enjoyed all the stories. This news will definitely keep me watching!

  27. Angie says:

    Have watched GH 40+ years and it’s best it’s been in a long time. Fast paced & exciting. Loved John McBain on OLTL but he is even better on GH and love him with Sam their chemistry is on fire. Love Todd on GH when I never really cared that much on OLTL. Love that Luck is a leading man again & loving him & Anna. Anna is back to her old kick ass self. Looking forward to all the twists @ turns. Keep it up RC & FV I think you are doing a great job.

  28. shelia ainsworth says:

    I am so glad that Blair is coming back! i just hope she gets to stay for good. Kassie is amazing actress. looking forward seeing more of Todd and Blair!

    • Lauren Esposito says:

      I am also very delighted to hear that Kassie DePaiva will be heading back to GH soon. She is an extremely talented actress and, along with Roger Howarth as Todd, creates sizzling hot chemistry on our tv screens. Blair and Todd need to be together in PC forever, not a week or two at a time. Frank and Ron, please keep Kassie aka Blair on our tv screens.

  29. sandee says:

    Been a long time watcher of GH and truthfully for a few years it sucked but now is the best hour of TV veiwing.

  30. Erica says:

    I seriously hate PP right now. It’s their fault Natalie isn’t on my screen.

  31. madeline says:

    mcBam sounds like a porn couple. Ugh.

  32. madeline says:

    Frank is really tall and handsome. Best looking guy in the room.

  33. Renee says:

    I want MA on GH. Jolie was my fav couple. I would also like to see Victor.

  34. Jennifer says:

    I love the Roger Howarth’s Todd. I hope they hook him up with Carly. Watching all the actors from OLTL make me long for it to return even more. They need to keep with Anna and some of the old WSB. Felicia’s return wasn’t as good as I had hoped for. I love Kristina Malandro but there’d be better ratings if the show could snag Frisco, even if it would mean Kristina M’s exit.

  35. lizzing says:

    Come back to stay kimberly GH needs Robin and the fans need the Scrubs back together.What ever you have to do GH do it,just bring kimberly back

  36. shelley says:

    I liked watching GH, but i wish that the John and Sam storyline would turn out to be Sam was his sister and that she was not killed by joe jr. Which would make sents way there is a connection between them

  37. loks750 says:

    Crazy calling, Crazy calling,Crazy calling!

  38. Patti says:

    I love The Scorpio family. Love Robin. Glad she is back. Hopefully Patrick will realize it soon.

  39. Kathleen says:

    John and Sam have the most potential couple wise. Look forward to see where this connection is taking them. I agree John’s girlfriend from OLTLL is definitely no longer needed now that he and Sam has connected. Give him part custody of the kid and let he and Sam raise him.

  40. sandee says:

    I was a viewer of OLTL and watch GH. I know people who watch one or the other and a few like me who watch both. I think the OLTL characters fit in perfectly. I am loving Todd and Carly as friends and love how Carly (for a change) is the voice of reason. Kelly and Micheal were put together because of their chemistry from thier days on the soap Port Charles.

  41. ctwildheart says:

    If it’s true that some actors cannot come to GH due to contract issues with PP…well, that would explain why Viki wasn’t around after Starr’s accident and later trial…

  42. Sedrick says:

    I had watched GH literally my entire 33 and a half years (although sometimes taking a break for Santa Barbara at its height and some Guiding Light). However, I had turned it off completely during the reign of terror the show went though under Jill Farren Phelps and Bob Guza. The destruction of history, contempt for older and long-running characters and actors, the extreme and graphic violence, the emphasis on dark criminal mobsters as the good guys and law-abiding citizens and cops as fools and villains, and most offensively, the disgusting treatment of female characters made weak and violated repeatedly with no consequence, plus the general dark and gloomy tone of the show, made me swear off GH and in the “sweepstakes” of which of the three ABC shows would go, I wanted it to be the show formerly known as General Hospital. When instead All My Children, and then most horribly One Life to Live, got the axe, I refused to watch GH, which was a poor shell of a formerly great program. However, the news of Valentini as EP and Ron Carlivati as HW made me decide to check the show out to see if they could work the same magic as they had on OLTL. Thank God THEY HAVE! I watch GH now LIVE every day faithfully, and the show keeps getting better and better. I love it all, except for Starr Manning, whose warping is not what I consider to be music to my ears, and Jason the Hitman, and but his presence isn’t as overbearing as it was before, and Sonny, while still prominent, is now not swallowing the show, and he is no longer the “moral” center of Port Charles. The renewed focus on characters that have been around from the glory days, and the references to theirs and others past, is a great treat. Heather Webber is THE BOMB, and her LSD iced teas and obsession with Kelly’s BLT’s leave me both laughing out loud and shaking my head in disbelief. The show is firing on all cylinders, and giving what audiences used to get from daytime drama. I am happy yo be back in the fold, and I hope GH has a brilliant and wonderful 50th anniversary, and that ABC maintains clear and better sense with the show and realize what a historic and cherished drama they have on their schedule, and keep the door of GH open for many years to come!

  43. MLO says:

    John and Natalie = boring. Personally, on OLTL, I liked him best when he was with Blair. Now I’m liking him with Sam. And as for Laura coming/not coming back – who really cares? Her last two comebacks flopped – whatever chemistry there was between Genie and Tony is long gone and has been ever since she got all frumpy and house-wifey. Tony Geary, on the other hand, is still a commanding presence and he deserves to be partnered with some one who can challenge him. Let the teaming of Luke and Laura remain in the past where it belongs. Please.

  44. Gentry Ashmore says:

    I have been watching soaps for 35 years. Not since Luke and Laura has there been a couple as fantastic as john and natalie. OLTL survived the last 9 years based on their amazing love story. I stopped watching GH when the Mob Took over Port Charles. GH needs to go back to its roots, dump Sonny, return Jason as a Quartermaine and bring on the Buchanans. There is no chemistry between John and Sam. Sam should be his long lost sister. Natalie (Melissa Archer) is John’s soul mate, Just look at the eight years of clips on youtube. John Mcbain would never leave Natalie and Liam after what they have been through. GH is destroying the integrity of John McBain if he cheats on Natalie and leaves her. It was sickening wjhen John was with Marty. Jolie fans are not watching GH because it’s just too painful. John and Natalie and Liam deserve a wedding and some happiness. I stayed loyal to OLTL because like Bo Buchanan, John McBain is loyal to his woman and through it all, Natalie (Melissa Archer) is the love of his life.

  45. Mario says:

    Natalie IS A MUST for General Hospital!

  46. David G says:

    The show was in great shape when he came? What kind of crack has he been smoking? The show was tanking and on death row, where it remains. Valentini is very naive and out of touch if he believes ABC wouldnt Ax GH without a second thought if Good Afternoon America gets good ratings and could be a viable replacement!
    The lame stories he and Carlavati are creating dont have the teeth to gain strong ratings. So far GH is barely above 2 million viewers. So much for them as saviors, lol.
    And he’s also stupid if he thinks the majority of viewers are just going to sit there while he strings them along with this Robin the Hot potato story.
    Eventually they will have to resolve this and still break up Patrick and Robin because Kim doesnt want a long term commitment to the show. And if he has half a brain he will stop wasting scarce budget money on One Lifer visits and recast an iconic villain from the past to drive the Robin story ( Paging Brian Patrick Clarke ( Grant Putnam) or ( Anders Hove-Faison).
    Until that time I will once again tune GH out like I’ve done consistently since Kim jumped ship. The so called stories are a lame waste of time. I’m tired of Roger Howarth’s retarded facial expressions and the big 4 Steve Burton, Kelly Monaco, Maurice Bernard and Laura Wright. Robin Mattson’s Heather is a zany cartoon with no direction and Im tired of that too by now. What will she do next, cast a spell and raise Steve Hardy and Jessie from the dead as zombies to do her bidding?
    Or better yet will she wake up in ferncliff, Shadybrooke, Forest Hills or whatever nuthouse and find out everything she’s done since returning to PC has all been an LSD flashback?! Lol. Ridiculous. (Hey that’s a good idea for a fan fiction-Ill get on that, lol)
    Until Robin’s fate is decided Ill stick to the shows I truly love now…Dallas, Mad Men and a little Y+R. Cartini can have GH. Too bad I have to say that after over 42 yrs of watching, but things change and life goes on. I’m parkin the GH Ambulance in the bay of The LA County Med Center for now. SMH. lol!

    • ctwildheart says:

      David I agree that GH was NOT fantastic when Ron and Frank came in. BUT you are SO wrong about it still not being fantastic. IT IS! GH is rejuvenated and sparkly now. You say you tuned out once Robin left…then you haven’t seen the best of Ron and Frank’s work. That was about the time their influence was just starting to air and they were wrapping up other old storylines and starting their own spin. So how can you know about Todd’s facial expressions or Heather’s crazy shenanigans? I guess you really ARE still watching and you just like to vent?

  47. now that Edward has passed, I think Stuart Damon should appear as the long lost twin of Alan , everyone else comes back, why not Stuart?

  48. Fritzi says:

    I’m sorry to say, I don’t like the new Christina on General Hospital….she looks much too old and much like a hooker..She’s a pretty girl but not my cup of tea for the role of Christina!!! Why not use the original???

    • CTwildheart says:

      Fritzi…the new regime did offer the role of Kristina to the original actress, Lexi Ainsworth. She has other obligations, roles she took since her firing, so she is unable to return. But I am glad they asked her first. I also agree, this girl is very pretty, but I am still not feeling her as Kristina.

  49. Jeanne Cupal says:

    I wish nat would come on g h with John.

  50. Sandi says:

    I still General Hospital does need all of them coming to PC John MCbain is
    all we need because he been on GH before He was on port charles with
    Kelly who plays Sam now.I’m also glad that Jason is the father of Sam
    Baby but still think he belongs with Elizabeth Webber. Sorry for the fans
    Of Sam .

    • Sandi says:

      Next Year 2013 April 1st,General Hospital will be on there 50th Anniversary
      That’s a very good thing. I wish Steve Burton was going to be on the show
      When that happen that not we will be think about him anyway.Along with the
      Rest of the cast & Crew

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