Frank Valentine teases Genie Francis' return, new love for Liz and the Nurses Ball
With "General Hospital" heading into its 50th anniversary this April, the ABC soap has been scoring big with fans by bringing back familiar faces of yesteryear. Executive producer Frank Valentini teased more big things ahead when MSN TV caught up with him, including Genie Francis and Jon Lindstrom's returns, Nurses Ball drama and a new romance for Liz. Valentini also discussed the online reboot of his former show, "One Life to Live."
Before we get to the straight Q&A, recent rumors suggest John McBain (Michael Easton), Todd Manning (Roger Howarth) and Starr Manning (Kristen Alderson) will be called back to "One Life to Live" for the online reboot. Nothing has been confirmed, but when we spoke to Valentini on Jan. 10, he was feeling optimistic about keeping them in Port Charles.
"I can't really talk about that, because there's a lot of legalese involved," Valentini hedged. "But everything's going to work out. The conversation is happening. I know it's all going to be great."
MSN TV: It's been a good time to be a soap fan. "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" are coming back from the dead, "Days of Our Lives" has been renewed and Genie Francis (Laura) is back to work at "General Hospital." What made decision makers suddenly realize the value of soaps?
Valentine: It is a great time. A lot of people are paying attention to the good work that the existing soaps have done and said, "You know what? There's fans out there. Let's honor them." I don't think it's just happening by accident and luckily, we're riding a nice wave of ratings and good publicity and we're able to continue the upward surge so we can try new things and branch out a little more.
Is it bittersweet that "One Life to Live" is continuing without you back at the helm?
I'm not sure bittersweet's the right word. I'm excited for all my friends in New York and excited for new life to be breathed back in to those two shows. I talked to Agnes [Nixon, series creator] last week and she's excited that her babies have been brought back to life.
Over in Port Charles, you've brought old favorites like Finola Hughes, Robin Mattson, Ian Buchanan, Tristan Rogers and Lynn Herring back into the fold. Kin Shriner returns to "General Hospital" Feb. 19 and your most recent coo is, of course, Genie Francis, returing Feb. 11. What can we expect from Laura's return?
You can expect a lot of surprises and a lot of fun. I met with Genie. She looks gorgeous. She's excited to be back. Everyone on the show is ready to embrace her back into the family. We've got a great story. She's going to be back with a nice big secret.
Is this a long-term arc or a 50th anniversary special visit?
Just wait and see. If I tell you how long it's going to be, it's just going to spoil it, in either direction. [Editor note: Valentini has since confirmed this is a full term casting hire, not a guest gig.]
Jon Lindstrom's Kevin is also heading back to town Wednesday, Jan. 30. What can we expect there?
Yes, Jon Lindstrom is taping today. I'm excited to work with him. I've always thought he was a great actor. We have some fun stuff with him and Lucy that the audience is going to be excited about.
On the other side of this, how do you feel about Steve Burton joining the cast of "The Young & the Restless"?
I wish him all the best.
February is coming fast: What can we expect during sweeps?
We'll be teeing up to the Nurses Ball, which will start at the end of March into the anniversary, which is April 1. Slightly in contrast to what's happened in the past, where it was sort of a one-off event, the Nurses Ball will be weaved into story. Big things will happen at the Nurses Ball and it will go for more than one day.
So February will be about planning the big event?
Yes, and the planning is exciting: How are they going to pull it off? The money just got pulled. Sabrina (Teresa Castillo) and Patrick (Jason Thompson) are working together, and what's going to happen with that? A lot of good questions will be answered.
Speaking of Sabrina, she's a character that has been somewhat polarizing, as you're probably aware.
No. I thought everybody liked her!
Some fans feel she has a storyline that should rightfully be Liz's. Robin was Liz's best friend, but Sabrina's the one saving the Nurses Ball and getting involved with Patrick.
But that's just wrong, because Liz and Patrick are like brother and sister. It would be creepy if they were together. And Liz has a new love interest on the horizon.
You've got to wait and see. It's someone who's on the canvas right now.
Are his initials A.J.?
Fans love Liz and are concerned about her storyline.
I love Liz. I love Becky [Herbst]. She's fantastic. But something needs to be built. That character's been bounced around. She's got three different children from three different men. If she's going to say, "I love you" to somebody, it's got to be real and it's got to mean something. She's not going to jump right into it. That's not who she is. Everyone's forgotten a little bit what makes Liz the character we most identify with and most want to be. Becky's got the acting chops to pull it off and make you go through every step of the relationship with her.
With all this in the cards, can fans still expect more juicy casting returns?
Bunches! I can't [say who, yet]. I'm not being coy. We just don't have the legal documents signed. But it's the 50th anniversary! How often do you turn 50?
"General Hospital" airs weekdays on ABC.
Are Sarah and Hank getting back together?
Watch it first on MSN TV:
This clip, along with the promo clip NBC showed for next week's episode, hints at a reunion for Sarah and Hank. Are you rooting for the couple? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter.
The season finale of "Parenthood" airs Thursday April 17 at 10PM ET/PT on NBC.
Get a glimpse of Marsden’s character in the animated show starring Jack McBrayer
Marsden reunites with "30 Rock" co-star Jack McBrayer in this episode where the hero Sir Brad Starlight (Marsden) enlists Wander (McBrayer) as his goofy sidekick and Sylvia as his noble steed on his quest to save Princess Demurra from the evil Dragon King, King Draykor.
See this pic first on MSN TV: Wander is ecstatic to fulfill his fairytale dream of rescuing a princess, but Sir Brad Starlight is not interested in sharing the spotlight and reminds Wander at every turn that there's only room for one hero.
“Wander Over Yonder” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD
Kim Kardashian, Wendy Williams hear what regular folk really think about them
The season premiere will feature Kim Kardashian, and executive producer Wendy Williams will get a taste of her own medicine as well. In this clip watch Kim K. undergo an impressive make-up overhaul in prep for undercover work: going to a group job interview as a Kardashian fan hoping to become her own new assistant.
Watch the video:
Other stars features this season include T-Pain, Fantasia, Joey Fatone, Lil’ Kim, Chili, Anthony Anderson, Jaleel White, Adrienne Bailon, Ice-T and Coco.
"Celebrities Undercover" premieres March 18 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen.
Host Justin Willman and Disney stars dish on the new show and offer up advice
By Minh Nguyen
It didn’t take long for memories of the original “Win, Lose or Draw” game show to come flooding back as soon as we stepped foot on the set of Disney’s resurrected show of the same name. Gone was the ‘80s living room set, replaced with bright vibrant colors, fun props and technology everywhere. Host Justin Willman (“Cupcake Wars”) commanded the stage as Disney stars Dove Cameron and Joey Bragg from “Liv and Maddie” battled it out against each other with their teammates.
The premise is pretty simple: two teams of three players (with the Disney stars on each side) compete in drawing contests to win prizes. Thrown into the mix are special challenges (like Shake, Rattle and Draw; Sit and Spin; The Wand) that take advantage of oversized props and fun gadgets. This season will also feature stars from Disney shows "Kickin' It," "Lab Rats," "I Didn't Do It," "Austin & Ally," "Jessie," "Dog With a Blog" and "Mighty Med" as well as stars from "Teen Beach Movie."
Over lunch, we were able to speak to Willman, Cameron and Bragg.
For people that aren’t familiar with the original game, how are you describing this to them?
Willman: The simple idea is just that it’s drawing Charades. You get your teammates to guess what you’re drawing. We have a team of writers who write these clues, and the words that they have to draw are so clever.
It's super high-tech, so the old original version was more markers on pads of paper, which was great at the time but here they have these massive touch screens and tons of software they designed just for the games that’s completely interactive.
Contestants have to do a bunch of crazy challenges in round two. Like drawing with a helmet on, where they can’t see anything or drawing with a unicorn stylus and that makes it way tougher but also much more entertaining to watch.
How are you enjoying being a part of the show?
Willman: As a live performer, I’m used to having that instant gratification of a live audience and this feels a lot like that. We’ve got 150 screaming kids, who are having the time of their lives just being there. It’s great because the jokes get instant payback. The excitement, I feed off of it. Even if it’s first thing in the morning, I don’t even need to have my coffee. As soon as that crowd starts to roar, I’m ready to go. It’s a blast.
Bragg: I like the rapid round. I can’t remember what it’s called. Where there’s one person drawing, and two people guessing, then we just switch.
Cameron: I think the best part for me has actually been, (I know this sounds like such a canned answer), but has been getting to meet these kids. There was this great moment where, it was at the end of the first round when they all kind of flooded in and they hugged us. And some of them were crying, and I wanted to cry. We didn’t realize the gravity of how huge this really is, and “Win, Lose, or Draw” has been great that way. We’ve gotten to interact with a lot of kids.
Justin, what’s the best advice you ever received?
Willman: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”
Dove and Joey, you guys seem really polished. What kind of advice do you have for kids that get stage fright?
Bragg: Well, I was doing stand-up comedy, and I don’t mean to be that guy, but it’s one of the hardest things to go up there and say stuff that you’ve written. You don’t have music backing you. I wanted to do something that I’m going to remember. And I think a lot of that is “I’m going to embarrass myself,” but you’re never going to see those people that are watching you ever again. Just do it!
Cameron: I always had a fear of cameras because I grew up on stage. Most things in life are one of those things where once you try it, you realize how OK it is. I just don’t take life too seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyways. So, yeah. Just have fun. Do what you please.
“Disney’s Win, Lose or Draw” airs Mondays through Thursdays at 5 p.m. ET/PT on Disney Channel.
She still lives with her parents!
In this interview with Oxygen's On-Air Personality Susie Castillo, Menounos reveals more about her upbringing and what to expect on her new series. Watch this first on MSN TV:
"Chasing Maria Menounos" premieres March 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen.
Princess Aslaug brings surprise and intrigue to this scripted drama
"Vikings" airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on History.
"It's not a good day, Mad Max"
In this "Parenthood" clip, Max (Max Burkholder) wrecks havoc for Sarah (Lauren Graham) and Hank (Ray Romano) when he barges into the studio, interrupting their workflow.
Watch this clip, first on MSN TV:
Parenthood airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
The classic game show has been upgraded with newer technology
Who remembers the celebrity game show, "Win, Lose or Draw"? Disney Channel has recreated a kids version of it, premiering Monday, March 3. (The show will air Mondays through Thursdays).
On "Disney's Win, Lose or Draw" Disney Channel and Disney XD stars team up with kid contestants to compete and win prizes in a battle of drawing skills, creativity and wits. Justin Willman hosts the contemporary version of the popular game show, which also features new technology such as motion-control illustration, interactive multi-touch screen displays and other fun challenges.
"Disney’' Win, Lose or Draw" premieres Monday, March 3, at 5 p.m. ET/PT on Disney Channel.