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.”
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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…
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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.”
Thanks for always covering General Hospital! :)
Damn you PP. I want Jolie back.
I sure do too! I miss Natalie so much and her beautiful little son! John belongs with Natalie! I feel like the big speech he gave her and asking for her forgiveness is all for nothing now because he has cheated on her!
I miss Natalie & Liam too!! John BELONGS with Natalie! RC needs to make it happen!!
Me too!! John doesn’t belong w/ sam they are boring!! McBain needs to reunite w/ his family. I don’t know why RC doesn’t reunite families. He took forever w/ Jason,Sam & Danny, it’s been almost a year for Natalie/John/Liam. Natalie/John are more entertaining then Sam/John. I don’t like theie sweet friendship, in real life I would LOVE it, but on a soap it’s boring. Caleb & Livvie I LOVED, McBain/Sam not so much.They have chemistry of friends not lovers.
I want Natalie
Am confuse? He saids that because of legal problems with PP that Melissa can’t come on the show.!
But what makes her contract different than Michael’s Florence’s and Kassie’s contracts with PP. They were signed with PP too. And their not have any problems.
Am just curious about this that’s why the question?
At ME’s FCW event, a fan asked him if MA would be on the show, and he said PP was causing some issues. Apparently, only several of the contracts can be released at a time, and ME, KDP, FL, etc were already on the show. We have to wait for her contract to expire. I HATE Prospect Park.
I hate Prospect Park too. Brian Frons looks like Ghandi compared to those fools at Prospect Park these days. Ironically, were it not for PP’s interference, I’m almost certain OLTL and AMC would have been brought back into production by now. Instead, we have no OLTL, no AMC, and Prospect Park is even preventing certain characters from OLTL from appearing on GH? It simply galls me to know end. I CANNOT WAIT for their contract with ABC/Disney to lapse so the shows and their characters will finally be out of Prospect Park’s incompetent clutches.
I DON’T WANT NAT BACK…SHE WAS A PAIN…TERRIBLE ACTRESS…JUST PATHETIC… I DO LOVE LUKE’S SLACKS THOUGH !!!!!! WILDDDDDDDDDD
I do not want Natalie on GH! They have got to bury that story and move John forward with GH stories and new love interests. It will stifle John if they do not do this. They have to end John and Nat.
Enough with the OLTL characters. These three are ok but there is only so much room!!! We need Spinelli and Maxie back at the forefront. We need Lulu and Dante back at the forefront!! ANy more additions will cut into their time.
That being said I’m loving the return of Anna Devane. What we need is a big adventure to send the whole gang on!! MAybe Valentine Cassadine will finally show up and try to take over the world to be stopped by Luke and Anna.
I have a strong feeling that the Cassadines are behind Robin’s kidnapping/fake death/electroshocking. So you might see a Cassadine/ Luke & Anna battle soon.
Speaking of Cassadines, wouldn’t it be awesome if Helena teamed up with Heather. That would be freakin great!!
Maybe Ewen really is working with the Cassadine’s and was the entire time he was “working” with ‘Cassandra’. Finally meeting Valentine would be sweet!
Agreed, however I miss Anna and Robert! Why can’t Luke be single? I think he is perfect for Heather! I was looking forward to Sam and Jason…and now I have to watch them split up Carly and Jax AGAIN! I was hoping to see them get back together. I would love a pairing of Tea and Sonny though…I am a die hard GH fan but I really enjoyed Tea. I can tolerate the OLTL characters as long as they lose a few of the ones on GH that do not contribute to the story. I am anxious to see how they are going to filter in the Robin story, the actress clearly wants to leave, but the show needs her to wrap this up! I would love it if Ewen was Mac Scorpio’s son. Mr. V please bring us back Frisco and Felicia.
So true all of the signed the contract for PP and that’s alot of bull if you ask me. I want the truth why he atleast wont allow her one visit to GH.
Why would the Prospect Park deal keep Natalie off of GH, but they allow John, Todd, Starr, Tea and Blair to crossover? I don’t need Natalie to join GH, just wondering why she can’t even do a cameo?
Roger & Kristen never signed with PP
“Todd”, Roger Howarth never signed with PP. The guy obviously saw through the smoke and mirrors.
I actually love what they’ve done to General Hospital these past few months. I think it the best it’s been in years, and I can’t wait to see what this “umbrella storyline” is.
Thanks, TVLine, for always covering GH.
Kudos to ABC for showing that General Hospital means something in their line up. Did NBC take anyone from Days of Our Lives to their TCA presentation? Were (Will they if CBS hasn’t done theirs yet) the CBS soaps represented at theirs? Very curious.
This TCA panel was to mark GH‘s 50th Anniversary.
PP Sux. They ruined OLTL ending and now they have my Natalie. I’m not amused by this at all. I want Natalie back and I want Jolie back.
I’m not amused either. Screw PP. At least when the contracts expire in january (too long) she’ll probably come over.
It never ends with PP. Now we know why Jolie hasn’t been on screen, even though TnB and TnT were.
So Natalie will be coming eventually. HELL YES
Nothing was said aboit Nat coming eventually.
DAMN YOU PP. I want jolie back!!!
Natalie should be on GH. Something needs to be done about those contracts.
So FV claims to be remodeling GH. Which really means screw over Jolie and Jasam. Not to mention throwing John McBain under the bus. Guess he really loves his OLTL fans. Way to screw up a happy ending.
Exactly! This John/Sam crap has been horrible! At least Jason/Sam’s baby gives me hope eventually things will work out.
Heard Jason is leaving next week..Sam should be w/Jason and Nat, I wish would come back..Love the cross over between OLTL to GH..Its Great!!! Thanks Writers!!
Jolie love. I’m not here for that McBam crap
I don’t care for McBain/Sam pairing, it didn’t happening naturally and they don’t really have a story behind them, it’s almost a year and still nothing interesting for them, I like for them to remain friends and for Jolie and Liam to reunite.
YES!! Some Jolie news, thank god. I’m going to throw up if I see McBam on my screen any longer. Fix the contract mess, FV
I am actually really enjoying GH again. The new characters and the new storylines have brought new life to GH. I never watched OLTL so I have no background on any those characters and I know some people are upset about the storylines of the OLTL characters, but I say be glad that some of your favorites from OLTL have found a new home at GH. The best thing about GH lately thought has been Todd. My favorite new addition without a doubt.
Thanks Tvline for covering GH!
I recently started watching GH again because of the return of Anna Devane/Finola Hughes. Anna is my all-time favorite character and Finola is as amazing as ever.
Yes anna is killing it!!! Love to see her back as chief of police. But we need a big adventure or murder mystery.Bring back Faison, Donnelly and Frisco!!!!
i want trevor st. john to show up
Dennis…I agree with you 100 percent!!
I thought I read that it will be proved that Todd didn’t kill Victor so maybe Victor & Todd will be on again soon.
Awesome. So we might see Jolie again soon. I miss them so much
Missing Jolie more and more everyday. PP sucks so much.
Thanks for the Jolie news TVLine!!! They need to be back on my screen *cries*
LONG LIVE VICTOR LORD JR!
JOLIE love. Screw McBam.
I’m glad Melissa Archer isn’t on the show. I’m enjoying the developing romance between Sam Morgan and John McBain tremendously. If MA came on the show, it should be to break up with John or for a custody battle. Just because OLTL characters are on GH doesn’t mean that GH is a venue for OLTL stories to continue uninterrupted. If that were the case, OLTL would be continuing as a soap on its own. OLTL characters on GH need to be integrated on to GH, and one of the best ways to do that is to romantically pair up GH and OLTL characters with each other. Starr and Michael are doing great, and who knows, maybe even Todd and Carly could get together. I think FV should be honest though and tell fans the real reason MA isn’t on GH: it’s because Natalie as a character is no longer needed to be a love interest for John.
Well, to each their own, but FV did say the real reason. And so did ME at his event. Natalie will show up eventually. And she and John are soulmates.
The only soulmate John had was his dead fiance who he was devastated at her death, Caitlyn Fitzgerald.
Yes they are!!
very tired of seeing Jerry Jax popping up all the time,,, SZG
Todd is not hooking up with Carly, so save it. They are obviously bringing back the only woman he ever really loved for him – Blair. Notice that all the other OLTL characters are in romantic entanglements with GH characters but Todd is alone with his continued love for Blair. They aren’t moving him on to anyone else. It’s always been Blair or bust for him and that’s how it shall stay.
I think that once its proven that Todd didn’t kill Victor that Todd & Blair will end up back together. I hope so anyway.
I agree with Maria. I was a OLTL fan and I didn’t like John and Natalie together. I just never saw the chemistry like he had with Blair and Kelly. THAT was great and I see that b/t Sam and him on GH! ooking forward to see how their relationship plays out.
I am the opposite I see no chemistry with Sam and John. Their story line was forced and the kiss was awkward. I know Blair is coming back but I think Todd and Carly have great chemistry. I am not to fond of her with Johnny. The only thing I don’t like, is FV is using the same story lines he used on OLTL, split personality baby switch. I just hope they don’t drag it on forever.
what chemistry are you talking about with John and Sam. She is married and he has a baby with his girlfriend. That’s crazy! John and Nat have been a item for as long as they have been on OLTL, They have been with others and was always drawn back together. For all the GH fans which I’m one you should understand when soap couples are together and the chemistry is there you dont want them to be apart. So why don’t you understand why OLTL want this couple to be together. You may not see it but its there like Luke and Laura, Vicki and Clink, GiGi and Rex, Bo and Nora, Danta and LuLu, Patrick and Robin, Blair and Todd, Tea and Victor, Sam and Jason need I go on. The chemistry is there maybe you don’t see it but atleast be understanding to those that do. Yes, John and Nat should be together on GH, if they break up later then so be it, but for now the OLTL fans want closer and a happy ending for John and Natalie, they waited a very long time and deserve it. Lets turn the tables and say if it was GH that went off the air would we not be asking for the same for our characters? Be fair.
Me too, there is no need for Nat. They have to end that to free John.
i wish Melissa Archer was on the show and I think she is needed. More importantly, John and Sam is a poor substitute for Jolie. I will never give up hope that John and Natalie will find their way back to each other again. They are love. Jolie <3
That’s exactly how JaSam fans feel about the forced “connection” with Sam & John. We don’t have a problem w/ GH giving out of work actors jobs, but don’t trash our couples to do it. So Jolie & JaSam fans need to join forces to get our couples back!
Agreed, I would like Jasam back too, with baby. Of course I don’t mind them bring fresh characters on the canvas the more the merier..however I see no connection between Sam and John:(
I hate the ILTL characters. It’s just how I feel.
Oops, damn spell check. I meant OLTL.
I agree I don’t want OLTL actor or actress on GH one ok but get rid of
Starr & Todd.