Master of Tease Frank Valentini Talks 'General Hospital'
Executive producer dishes casting, romance and the time shift for 'Katie'
It's shaping up to be an Indian summer in Port Charles, where the action is heating up. Not only has Jerry Jacks (Sebastian Roché) returned to poison the proverbial water, with his brother Jax (Ingo Rademacher) in tow: There was also a surprise appearance by the original Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan). The return from the dead was so scandalously delicious it had Duke Lavery trending on Twitter, but that was just a tease. With Port Charles locals hitting the waterfront to thwart Jerry's deadly plan, Lavery won't get into the action until October.
In another surprise twist, Steve Burton (Jason) recently revealed he's leaving "General Hospital," with his final scenes airing Tuesday, Sept. 25. Many fans are crowing that it's the wrong time, since his love triangle is just heating up. Considering all the returns and casting Valentini teased, however, fans may not have time to miss the mob strong arm ... OK, that's unlikely! But Valentini is promising more excitement and casting coos, and it's all leading up to the "General Hospital" 50th Anniversary in April.
MSN TV: You've been teasing big returns for September. We've already seen some doozies! Who is on your wishlist?
Frank Valentini: I wouldn't want to give it away, because there are so few surprises in life. The first wave starts in September and then it will go until April. One thing you need to remember with me is that I'm a planner. I've always got my eye on the future. What no one can deny is that I've brought more variety to the show. It will only continue in that vein.
"The Young and the Restless" recently went through a regime change. If there's a housecleaning over there, would you be open to bringing back Genie Francis as Laura Spencer?
What about the character Scotty Baldwin (Kin Shriner)?
I hope so! I'm a big fan. He's a great character.
Since signing onto "General Hospital," you've managed to mix in returned Port Charles favorites and former "One Life to Live" characters to recreate the canvas. Can you talk about how you've gone about rebuilding the show?
Maybe not rebuilding, but remodeling. The show was in terrific shape, but there needed to be some tweaks. It's much more my taste, my sensibility, for the show to go just a little bit faster, but I thought there were some key characters missing – not in terms of who they were, but certain archetypes. Bringing on some of the people from "One Life to Live" was a little bit of a way to honor the "One Life to Live" audience and also to create a story that was good for the current cast.
To what extent do you still keep your eye on your former "One Life to Live" players?
We would bring people on if it made sense. We brought Kassie DePaiva (Blair) back for a four-episode arc and it made sense: Her daughter was making her debut. She wants to support her daughter. We'll never do something that doesn't feed "General Hospital," as well. Starr performing helped tee up the Michael/Starr relationship. That was important for us to do. Then it also furthered the relationship between Todd and Carly. Kassie is a great actress and that's exciting, but it was also a great way to move something forward in the Port Charles world.
Is Kassie coming back?
Yes, Kassie will definitely be coming back.
And Melissa Archer (Natalie, "One Life to Live") has never looked better. Can we get Natalie in town?
She's a giant fox! There's legal issues, in terms of the Prospect Park deal, which I can't talk about. All I'll say is Melissa Archer is a very good friend of mine and I adore her.
Will it be revealed that Todd did not kill Victor?
Absolutely. See, we have all these great surprises that can be played out. The future is very bight and we're very excited about it.
What other elements have you focused on bringing back to Port Charles?
Romance, and I think I've been able to do that and explore romance in all of its forms. Not just candles and baths, but with the intimacy that exists between two people and what that means and how fragile and wonderful that is.
What's your take on the soap fan backlash against the talk shows?
I'm all about moving forward. Katie [Couric] is so talented and wonderful. She has supported our show and will continue to support our show. And we support her. It's a nice fit, now. There's more variety. Certainly, I would like to see "One Life" and "All My Children" come back, but the reality is we're in a different economic environment now in the television business.
During the "General Hospital" TCA panel, there were several past tense references to the wrecking ball threatening the show. Do you feel you've passed the danger zone?
Absolutely. We really have. It's time to move forward. It's very exciting for people to talk about the end, so they can be the first one to predict it. Let's embrace these shows and enjoy them. Soap opera is an original American art form that has so much equity that needs to be explored, and I'm here to make sure it's exploited and explored.
"General Hospital" airs weekdays on ABC. Check local listing for possible time slot change in your area Monday, Sept. 10.
Christian Vega wish I could remember his real name, ..
David Fumero, from One Life to Live thats it....I remember now, could play him very well, he is of simialr build, easy on the eyes, good actor, is very action orientated....he could do it.....your right every on would complain, but only at first if he was good. The role of Jason is leaving a big hole in the show....people still talk about Laura....and they will do the same with Jason....its not the same and I don't watch as much as I used to. Bummmmmmer....
FV and RC have ruined gh for this 30 year fan. When Steve Burton goes, so do I. It was a good run, I enjoyed it while it lasted
I think Mr. Valentini and Mr. Carlivati have made great strides in a short amount of time. I love the additions of Todd Manning and John McBain. I'm a huge fan of both Roger Howarth and Michael Easton. I am also loving the returns of Anna, Heather, Jerry and Jax!!!
However, Jason Quartermaine/Morgan and Elizabeth Webber are my absolute favorite GH characters...my favorite soap characters period, and with Steve Burton leaving so soon I just don't know that I care to invest anymore of my time. I had high hopes that Mr. Carlivati would be the one to write the greatest love story still to be told- Liason's story- and have them go in search of Jake.
Still not nearly enough romance either.
GH is ON FIRE!!! Valentini is most definitely the Master! Totally loving GH! Still missing OLTL but so thankful to have some of the cast on GH! Sounds like Frank has the master plan! Hope GH continues on for years!! Thank you for this article and thank you Frank V. and Ron C!!! We love you and WE LOVE GENERAL HOSPITAL!!
An OLTL fan, supporter and friend, Peggy Henwood, asked me to leave her commentary for her: "Jason is one of my favorite characters, I hope he's not leaving for good, especially since it looks like he might find out he is the father of Sam's baby. I'm really sad that he's leaving, I always look forward to his scenes. He is able to convey so much with just his eyes.
I'm liking the melding of OLTL and GH, I just wish we had all our stories back. Pine Valley and Landview are missed.
I am still angry with Disney/ABC and I refuse to watch whatever they put in the afternoon timeslots, except GH of course. I never liked talk shows, I would leave Oprah on in the background after GH, but I rarely sat down to watch a whole show. I've never liked Katie Couric so I have no reason to watch her. She's a grown woman and she still tries to use the ditzy, naive style, it's annoying to me.
I'm pretty sure all the shows around GH will fail because they just are not what the afternoon veiwers want to watch. Bring back 'Love In The Afternoon'!
Personally I am very happy to see Jason gone.I would also like to see Sonny gone. The show is just to much mob.To much killing. jason is a killer for hire,and Sonny does the hiring? No thanks.
I like most of the OLTL characaters brought over,the stories are all put together.
This is a soap Love in the afternoon. This murder in the afternoon,with the foul language,I have to make sure the small children around here are not in the room.
Soaps are still popular,and those of us who watch,want the characters to be likable not murdering scum.
I have shut the show off before,and will do so again. .I came back to see the characters I liked before return,if the same thing haoppens again.I can just change the channel!
Informative and largely optimistic with a a requisite dose of tactful caution from Mr. Valentini. His respectful nod to Ms. Couric is noted and citing of facts about economical constraints partially defining the new era of television production is understood but I continue to believe that OLTL and AMC will be brought back to life eventually. To use Valentini's own description, "soap opera is an original American art form" I would add that soap opera is an outcropping of the timeless art of storytelling, of which scripted drama provides an emotionally cathartic psychic expression of the human condition akin to a particular era. Soap is a chronicle and reflection of contemporary society's psyche and, for me, the most incisive vehicle for that expression was/is ONE LIFE TO LIVE.
I am still not confident we will have GH past the 50th anniversary - but I am hopeful!
Count me in as one fan who hates the turn that the show has taken. We do not appreciate the way SB has been used or how his and KM's characters have been played. We have been ignored, and cheated out of the storyline we waited years for. And the "what if" episode, while beautiful to watch,
was a cruel reminder of all that was destroyed. Oh yes, FV, exploited is a good word for you!