Longest running scripted show on TV: ‘General Hospital’

ABC’s “General Hospital” turns 60 this week and is currently the longest-running scripted show currently being produced on American television.

The soap marks milestones with fan-favorite stories, nurse balls, and galas to raise money for charity. This week, the resident of the fictional city of Port Charles dresses up and walks his carpet in red. Guest starring Chandra Wilson of “Grey’s Anatomy” as fashion editor Sidney Val Jean.

“She’s a huge fan of the show,” said Wilson’s executive producer Frank Valentini. I am very obsessed with.”

Valentini is also excited about the musical performances this year, as many of the cast will be able to sing and dance.

“Some of the numbers are the best we’ve ever done and we’ve done some really good things.”

While viewers are enjoying the ball this week, Valentini and head writers Dan O’Connor and Chris Van Etten are looking into the story beyond the summer. The show is currently being scripted through the end of May, with the writers outlining in June.

Valentini, O’Connor, and Van Etten speak to The Associated Press on what it takes to get ‘General Hospital’ off the ground, storyline creation, production, balancing veteran and newcomer characters, and setting the stage for other topics. I shared the back

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Writers play the long game

Van Eten: I have a story with a specific benchmark that I want to reach. We try to say, “Okay, Chapter 1 he might last until September.” Chapter 2 allows him to enter November. It’s cost-effective to divulge secrets or boil down some information, as long as you can make sense without boring your audience. It’s a strange tightrope walk to keep the balance.

Writing and producing melodrama is a puzzle

Van Eten: There are micro-level and macro-level puzzles. At the micro level, each week we look at not only the story and where we want the plot and characters to move, but also certain financial issues. If you put the set in place on Monday, we recommend using it on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday. Because it saves you time and money. “These are the stories. These are the characters. How can you move the story within the sets and other economic considerations?”

Balancing Legacy Players and New Faces

When Valentini took over as executive producer in 2012, he learned from the history of the soap and brought back some of the veteran cast. Some performed, others remained. Today, ‘General Hospital’ is joined by his members of the veteran cast including Jeanie Francis, Tristan Rogers, Finola Hughes, Christina Wagner, and Linchering. There’s another tier of long-time cast members starring in Frontburner’s story, including Maurice Benard, Rebecca Herbst, Laura Wright, and Chad Duell. It regularly features stories from new cast members, such as Hofer.

Valentini: When you inherit too much history and too many front-loaded characters and stories, you can’t let them go. dismissed. They will fire all writers. They changed the show and started from scratch. I never thought that was the right thing to do. you don’t burn ships you turn it around. The cast is phenomenal and I think the few people we’ve added over the years have really complemented and given the characters in the storylines of the show. Bring people in to support. Introduce new characters slowly and methodically so that your audience responds.

Stories are built around large set pieces

The writers say that once the big set is up, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with the locale. An example is a hotel pool where characters catch rays.

Van Eten: Metro Court Pool is a special case. Because, based on the whim of the writer, you have to fill a large tank that is too costly to empty and then fill again. We’ve been pestering Frank for years, “I want a pool.” We have a very attractive cast and we need a pool in the summer.We need to show them off…they are great actors but beautiful. When you give in, one of the rules when using a pool is to leave it in place once it’s up.

When to refresh the set

The Quartermaines are a wealthy family in Port Charles who live together in a large mansion. Over time it has been upgraded with a new foyer, parlor, solarium and even a breakfast nook.

Valentini: Quartermain living room looked very old (before). They’re a very wealthy family. People redo their living rooms, people redo their kitchens. And when the characters aren’t in the right place, I think it undermines and undermines their integrity. .

soap opera rapid aging syndrome

Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (SORAS) is the sudden aging of young characters for story purposes. This has happened many times over the years, including with Eden McCoy, who plays Joslyn Jacks, and Chavez’s character, Spencer Cassadine.

O’connor: Usually, that’s the conversation we have, especially when certain characters fall off the benchmark for a few generations. Our high school characters are now college students and young adults. So it’s going to be an argument, ‘Hey, maybe there’s room for a set of adolescent characters in the show.’ It’s based on our needs and the story and the show.

Van Eten: There’s also the X factor there. We have the best casting director in the industry, Mark Teschner. He unearths someone and gets Frank’s attention, especially if it’s a young person. Frank might look at the entire canvas and say, “There’s a six-year-old character who doesn’t necessarily serve any real purpose other than being this person’s child.” With this young actor Mark has found, he might get more stories by turning 12.

Stay true to the history of the show

In a story that spans six decades, writers must remember as much of their characters’ histories as possible: marriages, babies, and health scare.

O’connor: Call it a collective effort. We have producers in charge of continuity, but as writers, we all share that responsibility as well. And the fact that many, if not most of us, have been lifelong fans certainly helps.

Van Eten: I speak for myself, not the author. Personally, I believe that the obsession with continuity shouldn’t get in the way of a really good story. I don’t want to be something that completely contradicts the character’s 40-year history, but if it can explain even a little bit why the events that happened in 1979 are seen in a different light today, it’s a lens, so the current story. you can make it work. You can justify it.

critic online

It’s normal for viewers to react positively or negatively to various stories, but today’s social media has given us a megaphone to churn those thoughts out into the world in an instant. welcomes feedback, but try not to get too hung up on it.

Van Eten: When I was a breakdown writer, I read Twitter on days when episodes were on. Now that the show has more responsibility, I’m very sensitive and want to put out something that people like. I can’t. I don’t need it in my life.

O’connor: Different social media platforms and audiences seem to have different opinions on certain things. So it’s hard to say. There is consensus on stories throughout the show and when you hit Twitter, for example. (Twitter) has a different opinion than Instagram or Facebook or message boards. As such, it’s difficult to tell which opinions represent the majority of viewers based on that feedback alone.

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