“General Hospital" celebrates its 50th anniversary this year on April 1, 2013. ABC's lone drama on the daytime line up won the Emmy for best show last year and was named by the New York Post as one of the Top Shows to watch in 2013. 2013 should prove to be a big year on the show with the return of The Nurse's Ball.
Daytime TV Examiner sat down with the show’s Executive Producer, Frank Valentini, and actress Kelly Monaco [Sam McCall] during ABC’s TCA Winter Press Tour to talk about what was coming up on the show.
Check out the interview below:
Phyllis: Now that Steve Burton’s on a CBS show, is Jason’s story over?
Kelly: It’s over for now and wrapped up as much as it can be.
Frank: Yeah, it is over for now. There are lots of stories that need to be told that we’re focusing on right now. But, never say never. Somewhere down the road if an opportunity comes up, we’d certainly look into it.
Phyllis: What I love about the show is its ability to put any two characters together on any given day, at any given time and it works. There are so many characters that aren't in Sam’s orbit every day. Who would you like to work with that you don’t get to regularly?
Frank: [takes out his phone to make a note] I just got a great idea
Kelly: Sam’s got her mom and her sisters around to lean on but I think Sam needs a girlfriend. Yeah, a girl friend would be good.
Frank: The fans loved that Sam and Carly had a little exchange recently, which was great…
Kelly: yeah, it was. I'd love to work with Tony Geary, so it would be nice if Sam was in Luke's orbit somehow. I love Jason Thompson, so I’d like to work with Patrick.
Phyllis: So what's coming up next for Sam?
Frank: Let’s just say that what Sam is in for next is something she’s ever been up against before.
Kelly: Wow, that's new information for me, Kelly. But I’m up for it. I welcome the challenge.
Phyllis: So Kelly, how is it working with the kids…they’re so cute
Frank: She’s so good with them… she's good with them and it’s not always pretty.
Kelly: It’s great. They’re good. Kids are innocent and amazing. It’s hard not to want to “goo goo ga ga” the whole time. They're awesome to fall in love with.
Phyllis: We were all rooting for you on “Dancing with the Stars.” How was it for you? The hard work, the scheduling…
Kelly: I enjoyed doing that show. I was honored that they asked me and I think it was great for daytime that someone from that world was included. Frank and the rest of the crew and the cast were so supportive.
Frank: Kelly's such a great ambassador for the show with all the great things that she does. It’s great that ABC gave us this platform as a way to introduce the show to a bigger audience.
Phyllis: Rumor is that the Llanview transplants [Starr Manning, John McBain, and Todd Manning] might have to leave the show now that Prospect Park is rebooting “One Life to Live” online. Do you want to comment on that?
Frank: Can't really talk about that right now. But we are trying to work things out and figure out what's going to be best for both shows.
Phyllis: Talk about some of the new characters you've introduced, like Ellie and Sabrina. Sabrina, everyone’s calling her "Ugly Betty."
Frank: [laughs] we like to think of her as “Not So Pretty Betty.” She is great. [Teresa Castillo] is a phenomenal actress and it’s a tough situation when a super couple breaks up and everyone knows that Robin’s is still alive so its tough for Patrick. But I think its interesting to introduce these two women to show, if you will, which two roads Jason can go down. I mean not Jason, Jason Thompson...Patrick can go down.
Kelly: He needs a little bit of Sam in his life.
Frank: Everybody needs a little Sam in their life.
Phyllis: You should work on that.
Kelly: No, no, no…I’ll work on that off screen.
Phyllis: Did you make any New Year’s resolutions or goals for 2013?
Kelly: No, I didn't really make any New Year's resolutions. I think I've had a really...personally, a really hectic year. A lot of ups and downs. Professionally, it was amazing. I think I've given up enough and I've taken on enough and I'm pretty balanced.
Frank: Last year, 2012, her resolution was to work harder and she did it. So this year, it is to have more fun.
Phyllis: And maybe take so time off?
Kelly: No, no no I would never do that. I always seek out one fantastic sort of opportunity throughout the year to do something different than "General Hospital" just to spice it up. And I know it'll come, I'm not going to force it to happen and somewhere...
Frank: There's some things out there in the ether.
Phyllis: How about you Frank?
Frank: There are some things. I’m still trying to get to my 100th country. I am up 74 so I have 26 to go.
Phyllis: What’s number #1 of the 26?
Frank: Mongolia. Hopefully in August, depends on scheduling as well.
Phyllis: I was happy to see “General Hospital” being named of The Top Shows to watch in 2013.
Frank: One of five. We are totally proud. We think it is about time that people paid attention to “General Hospital” as a drama and not just a daytime drama.
Phyllis: How do you and the writers meet up? How do you work with them being on different coasts?
Frank: The entire writing team is in New York. We do video conferencing and we also do phone calls every Monday. I call Ron [Carlivati, Head Writer] after work when he's about to go to bed and I'm about to go to the gym. I usually have a 1/2 hour drive down and talk 10-15 times a day so it works out really well. He's in a place where he can concentrate on writing and I'm in a place where I can concentrate on production so...and we're both workaholics in our own ...it works. It's working.
Phyllis: So what’s coming up so the show. For the anniversary and for sweeps. How far ahead are you working?
Frank: The 50th Anniversary is April 1st. We've got the Nurses Ball, big stuff coming up. We're starting to think about what's coming up for the Spring but The Nurses Ball is taking up so much of our time, with planning and scheduling and with the guest stars coming back, it's a little overwhelming. It's all good but there a lot going on.
Phyllis: What about the costumes and the sets for the Ball. I imagine it’s challenging with budgets being cut.
Frank: Well, you've already seen how we are able to up the production value on the show. We've got some tricks up our sleeve. We've got a really wonderful design in mind for the set...we’re going to play with some stuff. It'll be very exciting. Visually it'll a treat for the audience as well.
Phyllis: Speaking of scheduling, you have a lot going on today.
Frank: We just have 16 interviews and she's got a whole show to do today and I'm actually directing as well. It never ends.
Kelly: And it's just the beginning of our day.
Phyllis: Thanks for taking time to talk to me.
Frank: Phyllis, it was very good to see you again.
Phyllis: Thanks, it was good to see you too. Thanks Kelly.
Kelly: Thank you. It was nice to meet you.
“General Hospital” airs weekdays on ABC.
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