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March 2001

March 24

Another Blast From the Past

As always, it's funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same.  This column originally ran on June 12, 2000:


Early last month, TV Guide soap columnist, Michael Logan, shattered the mirror for many loyal soap viewers by speaking the unspeakable.  He alleged that the wishes and influence of fans on the disposition of characters and story lines in daytime drama is minimal, at best.  In its May 9, 2000 issue, Soap Opera Digest quoted Logan as saying (among other things), "If fan campaigns worked, certain execs would be on the unemployment line. People are griping all the time and their hopes and wishes and dreams are not realized, so it's hard to say that any of it really works."   When later questioned, many daytime drama execs reluctantly concurred with Logan’s dismal assessment.  

It has long been known that people with power over the direction of a story line will frequently read the message boards and assess public opinion, but in the long run, it appears that the writers and honchos of our soaps have an agenda of their own to follow with little concern for or interest in what the fans want.  

My mailbox is full every week with people stating that they are going to stop watching GH or OLTL or whatever soap is in question because they just can’t stand where the story is going.  GH is a perfect example at this point of not going with the flow of fans’ desires.  They hate Juan and Emily…the Chloe storyline is boring them…the Lucky story is dragging endlessly…they don’t care if Stefan is dead, Felicia and Luke together are vomitous, etc, etc.  Fans are very vocal and usually united (majorities being predominant) in their general opinions.  

The lobby was quite strong for Carly and Sonny’s baby to live.  Certainly, the opportunity was there for a quality story line had the baby survived.  Fans clamored to be heard on this one and blatantly did not get what they wanted.  A campaign to “Save the Baby” was waged as soon as it was heard that a miscarriage was planned.  Fans were encouraged to write to a particular e-mail address for ABC/GH (when one had never previously been released).  Either the address was pulled due to the high volume of e-mails received or was bogus to start with.  I do, however, know that the comment line for GH was impenetrable during that time when it is normally as easy call.  Fans wrote letters via snail mail by the thousands, begging ABC/GH not to kill off the baby.  No go. 

We would be idiots to not understand that this is a business and of course, more than fan outcry must be considered when storylines are determined.  Often, an actor’s interests and desires are taken into consideration, especially if it is a deal breaker to the actor staying.  Many heavy hitters are not above using their status as a bargaining chip to get their way as far as working with or not working with another actor or whether or not a particular romantic linking will occur.  Sometimes it works the other way around and an actor is given a particularly undesirable direction for their character in an effort to encourage them off the show.  This is most definitely a common practice, although The Powers That Be have vehemently denied that it is so from time to time. 

There are more instances of the wants of the fans being ignored than there is room on this page to account for them.  Venus Ardanowski was very much a favorite of the fans and her alter ego, Lisa Cerasoli, was eager to stay and continue playing the feisty V.  Since the writers basically couldn’t think of anything for V to do, she got the axe.  When Cesar Faison returned to Port Charles, the whispers were aflurry that Robert and Anna Scorpio must not be far behind.  Tristan Rogers (Robert) and Finola Hughes (Anna) “waited by the phone”, but head writer Bob Guza told fans there was simply not enough room for more characters to come on board on GH.  Just a few months later, Hannah, Juan and Chloe, three of the most disliked characters on the show at this time according to polls and my mailbox, were added and Hughes found a home on AMC playing, we are led to believe, none other than Anna Devane Scorpio. 

If an actor wants to leave GH and is anxious to explore new frontiers, the fans should be willing to put their own wanna’s aside and allow for an individual to blossom.  Demi Moore is making a tad more money now that when she played Jackie Templeton on GH (she probably digs the equivalent of her GH salary out of her couch cushions every month or so).  Richard Dean Anderson would have never learned how to make a pipe bomb from a tampon and some hand lotion had he never left the role of Jeff Webber (the future Elizabeth Webber’s missing daddy) to go on to fame as MacGuyver.  Steve Burton, Kimberly McCullough and Jonathan Jackson all left very fan-beloved roles to move on to (presumably) bigger and better things.  People grow and as they do, their needs change.  That’s a fact of life.  People get bored and need to be challenged in different ways to feel fulfilled.  People get fired and laid off for any number of reasons.  That, too, is a fact of life.  It happens and we, the fans, roll with the punches.  

What I’m talking about is not the day-to-day life stuff such as described above.  I’m talking about continuous, blatant disregard for the wishes of the fans, without whom there would BE no GH.  The idea is that we watch the show, the ratings soar, the advertisers pay more for the  air time and the show is a success.  We don’t watch the show, the  ratings plummet, the commercial air time is less valuable and the show is a dud.  So who’s fault is it that we are treated as dispensable factors in the chain?  Dr Phil McGraw, life strategist, says, “Other people will treat us the way we have taught them to treat us.”     We talk a good game about how we are going to quit watching if things don’t take an upswing, but do we really follow through or is it just a bluff?  Is it a matter of “Them” knowing that they have us hooked and making character and plotline decisions based on what best serves the needs of the GH corporate fat cats rather than giving a damn about what we think?  

Hey, I’m hooked.  I’ll be the first to admit it.  I’ll stand in front of all of you and say, “My name is Katrina and I am a GH/OLTL addict.”  (“Hi Katrina.”)  I’m not boycotting anything and I can fuss and gripe plenty about what’s happening on GH, but you’d better believe I’m right there glued from the “Previously on General Hospital” to the very last “On the next General Hospital” every single day.  I’m not a slack-jawed freak woman who lays on the couch eating Whitman’s chocolates, yelling for the kids to come get Mama’s Pryin’ Bar to hoist me up off the furniture to go pee between commercials.  I am fairly intelligent, college educated and shower every day.  I watch the show because, overall, I think it’s great entertainment. 

It’s a matter of familiarity, not desperation.  Some of these characters I’ve known longer than my husband, my children, my FIRST husband or my best friends.  When I started watching, Kennedy was still president (for a few months to go, anyway), music came on vinyl, no one owned a pc and you rented your phone from Ma Bell.  Lucille March ran the 7th Floor Nurse’s Station with an iron fist and Dr. Hardy was a dreamboat intern. I was VERY young, mind you.  These people are a part of my past and I’m sure will be a part of my future, regardless.  It’s like a book that might get boring for a chapter or two and might have a few characters that are blah, but it never stops having a page to turn and will always pick up eventually.  ABC knows this mentality exists amongst viewers and they depend on it faithfully.  I’ll freely admit that I am part of the problem, but I’m enjoying the ride, no matter how much I complain.  

Does fan input really matter?  In the long run, who knows?  People use a lot of time and energy to save V, save Mac, save Tony, save the baby and sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t.  John J. York (Mac) and Brad Maule (Tony) felt the wood of the chopping block on their necks last year and it is said that fan outcry is what kept them on the show.  Maybe it helps; maybe it just helps us.  My advice to you is if you have a cause and you feel it in your bones, then keep writing those letters and calling that comment line.  Remember, if you want to contact GH, you do so by writing them at GENERAL HOSPITAL, c/o ABC-TV, 4151 Prospect Ave, Hollywood, CA  90027 or calling the General Hospital Comment Line at 310-557-4583.  This could all be a depressing ruse and the Powers That Be could be hanging onto our every word.  Y’think? 


For Christmas this year, I want a digital camera with resolution to beat the band, a topsy-tail hair tool because those things are worth their weight in gold and currently impossible to get, a copy of the out of print “B” movie “Honky Tonk Freeway” and an Andreas, not necessarily in that order.  I’m not as old as Helena and my bones are covered with an abundance of soft, cuddly, subcutaneous fat, so he won’t have to worry about getting bone bruises or jabs.  It’ll be like jumping into a big, soft couch and giving it a cuddle or playing on a cushy moon walk bouncer.  He’ll love it.  He’ll love me.  The actor’s name, for those of you who don’t know, is Landon Wine.  Is that a great name or what?  “Oh, Landon, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind.  Hey Landon!”  (I bequeath that song to Juan, who is in desperate need of a new one.)  

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Andreas visit Helena when she was paralyzed at Wyndemere and he planted that big FAT kiss on her, tongues and all.  I about fell off the chair.  You just don’t expect that sort of thing usually.  Constance Towers has freely admitted to thinking Landon is wonderful and it was at her request that he was brought back to play Andreas after his first character, twin brother Ari, meant his unfortunately demise at the business end of Helena’s ice pick. 

I almost must confess a freaky thought that has been banging around in my brain for a few weeks now, since that creepy talk that Stefan and Helena first had where he realized and revealed how he had, in Laura, inadvertently duplicated his relationship with Helena.  Have any of you had your stomach turn over in their weird exchanges, thinking Stefan was going to kiss her? I know it’s rather gross and far fetched and might indicate a need for serious counseling on my part, but whenever he reaches to touch her cheek or leans in to whisper something to her, I feel this fear welling up inside me that he’s going to just going to lay one on her.  I actually exhale in relief when he backs off again.  Tres’ creepy. 

At least, via Helena’s own revelation, we got to the heart of the matter of what she did to Lucky.  “Anyone for chess” pretty much sealed Stefan’s fate, along with his narrative of how Helena had hired Faison to mastermind both the kidnapping and the brainwashing of Lucky to do Helena’s bidding.  “Protect your queen at all costs.”  I wonder where that’s going to lead him?  I remember Faison baiting the disinterested Lucky into the chess games by offering him one answer to a question for every game he won.  Lucky studied computer programs to master the game and now, presumably, is able to best Helena.  When Stefan laid it all on the line, Helena later said to Andreas, “Stefan gives every indication of knowing the truth about Lucky.”  That gives us our truth.  All we need to know now is her prime directive. 

Lucky cracks me up with his assumption that everyone who happens to be on the docks is waiting for him.  It’s even funnier the way he goes up to them and scolds them for lying in wait for him, regardless of what they happen to be doing there.  I wonder if he does that with people he doesn’t know as well.  The docks are shown with an alarmingly greater frequency than the hospital these days and seem to be the general meeting place for people in Port Charles, regardless of social class.  Since Kelly’s, the other main set on the show, is just around the corner, we should just change the name of the show to “Bannister’s Wharf” and be done with it. 

You just can’t say enough good stuff about the acting of everyone around the loss of Sonny and Carly’s baby.  It continues into this week with some interesting character development going on with Sonny and Carly.  We have seen in the past that the way they both tend to deal with any degree of personal guilt is to lash out at others and throw blame in as many places as possible, especially Carly.  It was fascinating to watch as the two of them revealed their most vulnerable feelings, that they might individually be responsible for the baby’s death.  Carly told Sonny that if she had not baited AJ, if she had just for once walked away, their baby would be alive.  Sonny confided that if he had not claimed the baby as his own, it would be alive and she would still be with the Quartermaines.  They comforted one another beautifully and I’m gratefully that the loss is being used to lay a good foundation for a serious relationship between the two.  It was an extremely good move to have Bobbie bring up Carly’s bout of postpartum depression after Michael’s birth.  What a great tie in.  

Carly, it seems, is going to use the Nurse’s Ball as an avenue to try and shoot another ex, but fortunately, Sonny is going to do some fast talking to set things right.  I doubt she’d get by with just a fast visit to Ferncliff for popping yet another ex-lover, so it’s a good thing she’s on the right side of Sonny for the night.  Afterwards, it’s going to be good to see things get cozy on the island and their relationship become more solid. 

Note to Bobbie:  I *think* it’s about time to pick up Lucas from Tony’s.  If you’re lucky, maybe he’s actually aged some while you were gone.  Reread the script of what Felicia’s going through and take furious notes, then pot, stop calling the kettle black.  For the record, gals, boyfriends are not more important than your kids.  Embroider it on a sampler or a pillow or T-shirt or something so you’ll remember it. 

It’s funny how an intense story like the kidnapping of Hannah should feel like such a backburner bubbler.  Maybe it’s because I keep nodding off whenever it comes on.  

To answer the burning question so many have felt compelled to write and ask:  No, you guys, no.  I don’t feel any greater sympathy for Felicia since she spilled her heart to Luke and to us in the motel room.  I just don’t.  No amount of pleading her case to me is going to make it happen.  Facts are facts.  She bounced all around the world with a man who was not her husband and not only dumped her girls at home with her husband (and no means of contacting her and no word on when she’ll be back), but lied to him about where she was.  There’s no excuse good enough for that one.  So OK, we move past that and figure that hey, we all make mistakes and show terrible judgement at some point when it comes to our kids.  That is a given, speaking as a mom.  We’re going to massively screw up at some point and we might as well accept it.  That was Felicia’s.  I’ll forgive her that one.  

So she comes home, everyone gives her another chance and with full knowledge of the stakes, she was gone again in nothing flat.  Mac had laid it out plain and clear, she agreed to it enthusiastically and then violated it big time.  Luke dummied it down by saying, “He drew lines on the street and then got mad when you stepped out of them” (or something to that effect).  She didn’t just step out of them, she helped draw them, then danced around on the outside!  She comes back from that and is anxious to put her family back together and is devastated that Mac is furious with her, so the dutiful mom runs out into Luke’s club with her clothes half off of her.  As if that isn’t enough, she then allows herself into a situation where she is trapped in the diner, dancing with him when Maxie has belted a kid at school and is failing math!  

Now, Felicia fans, what exactly about the last year is supposed to make Mac believe that Felicia is prepared to stay at home and be a good mom to the girls?  How has she demonstrated her ability to do that?  The girls are begging to live with Mac and he has been their most stable influence in the past year.  Wouldn’t it be appropriately unselfish, after a particularly selfish year (where the kids are concerned, anyway), to let the kids stay in a stable home where they want to be?  

I was agog when she actually said, “Why can’t he understand the sacrifices I made to try to keep my family together?”  I’m missing exactly what she sacrificed.  She’s painting Mac as being mean to her?  I’m sure he had plenty of time to work up frustrations while watching that video over and over and listening to her lie into the phone again and again.  I think most people would have a little mean going on there.  She was grateful to Luke for bringing out that person inside of her that she likes so much?  Apparently, that person does not have kids. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I have no problem with her being attracted to Luke and following him to the moon and back if that’s what they want to do.  But at least be square, don’t dump your kids and husband to do it and to thine own self be true.  If she would just let the girls live with Mac with Mariah helping out ala Lesley, Felicia would be free to be that person that she likes so much!  Everyone could be happy.  I’m sure Mac would never keep her from her girls (no matter how mean she thinks he is), so everybody wins.  Mac managed to raise Robin on his own and she turned out to be everyone’s darling, so I’m sure he’ll do fine with these two little foundlings as well.  He’s a professional Dad-for-hire. 

As far as the sex scene between Luke and Felicia…if it had to happen, I guess this was acceptable.  I was hoping, as I told a few netpals, for a quick fade to back, then return from the commercial break to find them sitting up in bed, smoking cigarettes, with Felicia assuring him that it’s not a big deal and it can happen to any guy.  No such luck.

It’s things like that and Andreas that really keep me hooked. 


It’s not too much to ask, is it?
CHLOE:  “I don't want tire tracks on the man I love, ok?” 

A startling new development..
FELICIA:  “They are my babies, and they will always come first to me. Do you understand that?” 

Sweet Lila…reaching for something nice to say.

LILA: “Oh, we're all grateful to you, darling. You're the only Edward amongst us.” 

Edwardian wisdom:

ALAN [referring to AJ]: “You don't think he's suffering?”

EDWARD: Oh, he's wallowing. There's a difference.” 

What Larkin’s mom embroidered on the pillow for the sofa:

LARKIN: “A woman who is interested in only money is nothing but a slut.” 

And finally, modesty will get you everywhere…

HELENA: “Oh, honestly, Stefan, I was simply a dedicated mother.  With a strong fashion sense.”

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