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GH’s Head Scribes Shelly Altman & Chris Van Etten Take You Inside The Writer’s Room Of How A Soap Is Written!

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The Nerdist has posted a very special podcast for soap fans and especially those of General Hospital.

Host, Ben Blacker welcomes GH head writers, Shelly Altman and Chris Van Etten for an inside look and discussion on just how the writer’s room works and is constructed on a soap opera, in particular the ABC daytime drama series.

Blacker is joined by writer and GH superfan, Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, as they talk the nuts and bolts of writing for a continuing daytime drama series from: the creation of long story, to how the each week’s episodes are laid out in the hands of the breakdown writers, scripts writers, and more.


Altman and Van Etten also talk about their writing team, what they look for in a writer, and if they are a fit for the genre, if there is story that they want to tell, but haven’t had the chance to yet, and how they must map out the lives for the many contract players and characters on the Port Charles canvas.

It’s a compelling listen. Check it out here.

After you have had a chance to listen, let us know if there is something you learned that you didn’t know about how the process of writing a soap, and in particular how GH scripts and stories are planned in the comment section below.

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13 Comments on "GH’s Head Scribes Shelly Altman & Chris Van Etten Take You Inside The Writer’s Room Of How A Soap Is Written!"

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Whoa! that was more than long so I had to skip it…
Anyways, I don’t care how they write GH I only care how good the writting is.
I gotta admit, I have been in snoooz mode the past 2 weeks, nothing is happening to keep me awake 🙁
overkill of Sam and Jason looking at each other like hurt puppies, to say it kindly, nuff is nuff of them..
They desperately need to write some hard drama, intriguing exciting adventure intense stuff and shelf the stagnate mush.
the couple’s woe is me woes are as interesting as a lint ball…

I need a thrill, an adventure, intense moments, on the edge intrigue I need drama!

and again- I don’t care what they do to write a soap I care that they at the least try to write gripping drama.


@Su000, you never cease to make me laugh…. Thank you
for your unvarnished honesty.


laugh and unvarnished honesty? all she does is complain about how boring gh is, if she doesn’t like it she should just give up already on the show, she seems happy w/Dool and RC, why is she bothering w/ GH if all she’s gonna do is bitch about it, what she is, is predictable, if you wanna read someone bitch about GH then su0000 is the one to go to to read about it That is all she offers.


Su is a man, by the way.


Su…I guess the difference lies in what you define as “drama.” I think you seek action. As for drama, Sam and Jason’s exchanged glances ARE drama…for those of us who were in love with their love story. Add to that Sam’s emotional conflict, her love for and loyalty to Drew coupled with her repressed but returning to the surface feelings for Jason and it’s an emotional tug-of-war for the characters and the veiwers who are invested in these characters. Personally, I get kinda teary when I see the flashbacks of Jason and Sam because I was watching back then. So, it’s nostalgic and it brings to mind how great they were together. And, even for me as a viewer, I’m conflicted because I like Drew…and Sam with Drew, too. So, speaking for myself and others who are drawn to this drama…it’s not boring but compelling.

What “grips” some doesn’t others. But it IS drama.

Allen Saint James

amen to Intense action adventure stories. They at the beginning phase of bringing back adventure storytelling to the show. The Jason/Faison Saga is the most intriguing story in ages.


They are building stories (i.e Faison and Mayoral/Charles St). What I like is that they are integrating a lot of the cast in both stories.

nancy dillingham

I, too, like the integration of a lot of the cast members. “Seems like old times.” 🙂


It’s worth a listen (interview begins 5 minutes in and is 68 in length). I enjoyed learning more about Shelly and Chris, the process of writing the show, the constraints and challenges. GH should be in good hands with Shelly, Chris, and the current writing team. I’m sure the goings-on behind the scenes can be even more interesting than what’s on the screen, so it was a neat glimpse from that perspective. But what about the bigger picture? Let’s hear about the business side of things from the executives, those that can speak not only on the state of the show but of the genre as a whole and what they are doing to keep it alive, fresh, and viable for years to come? Are we running out the string with the four existing soaps or do they foresee a time and place for a re-entry of a beloved show? The entertainment business routinely serves us up reprises and reboots, whether due to demand, nostalgia, economics, or pure laziness to come up with original content. It’s difficult to believe that a network or cable channel wouldn’t want a show that can fill a time slot 1x5x52 for possibly years into the future. Like any venture, budget accordingly. Never have there been more platforms to view or outlets churning out content, nor has the talent pool been so deep. We’re all tethered to these devices, so give us something to watch! Soaps were a stalwart of the network television line-up for years and can be once again, if given a chance. As a business, you’d be hard pressed to find a more loyal consumer than a soap viewer—it’s beyond brand loyalty, it’s commitment and passion. You should be so lucky!


I am curious…Do the writers ike Shelly and Van Etten pay any attention to comments made by fans. A big example is that, at least on MF, for years many have expressed being very tired of Sonny and Carly, the mob, and both monopolizing GH. Doesn’t this count for something when writing the GH stories.

4ever DAYS


su0000 only watches GH and Y&R.


It was an interesting listen but I think it was meant primarily for those who are either in or interested in getting into writing. I found it interesting because of my publishing background. not sure if it would be compelling if I wasn’t in that realm.

On that note, it was a good interview and an insight into the writers minds…and of course an insight into the business aspect, as well.

For those of us who might be thinking of writing a soap…as was asked during the interview…it wasn’t too encouraging. But never say never!


I’m really disappointed with Chris Van Etten as the choice for co-headwriter. For someone who watched late 80s GH, supposedly, I see nothing that shows respect for that time period onscreen. I also don’t like that he is basically Ron Carlivati’s pupil, who loves the soap cliches like Ron does. Because the genre and especially GH started going toward the bad in the 90s, I see some sense in putting older Head Writers in place at GH becaue they know what good soap is made of. Many of the writers working under Chris and Shelly are older so why not?

General Hospital

GH Preview – Week of May 28, 2018

GH: Will Drew Discover His True Past?

Coming up on General Hospital, Drew (Billy Miller) searches for his memories and decides that he wants Andre (Anthony Montgomery) to prepare to move ahead with the high-risk request to strip him of Jason’s (Steve Burton) memories so that he can retrieve his own.  Will Drew be able to get his life back?

Then, though Carly (Laura Wright) did not intentionally push Nelle (Chloe Lanier) down the stairs, Diane (Carolyn Hennesy) convinces her that her best chance at freedom is to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.  As a result, Carly expects to be sent to a mental institution rather than prison, but what will happen? Here are more teasers for next week’s General Hospital.

Monday, May 28

An encore presentation for Memorial Day.  Episode 14035. Original air date: 4/13/18

Tuesday, May 29

Carly snaps

Wednesday, May 30

Peter has leverage

Thursday, May 31

Valentin tries to defend himself

Friday, June 1

Jason offers words of encouragement

So, do you hope Drew regains his memories once and for all?  Has Carly got herself in so much hot water that the only place for her to go is straight into a mental institution when she’s perfectly fine?  Share your thoughts on the most intriguing storylines on General Hospital via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

GH’s Laura Wright and Wes Ramsey Talk Their Love Connection & The Demands Of Daytime

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

After presenting for the first time together, at the 45th Annual Daytime Emmys since they’ve been a couple, Laura Wright (Carly) and Wes Ramsey (Peter aka Henrik) of General Hospital have certainly been in the throes of a romantic, fun, and cherished relationship. The two former stars of Guiding Light reconnected last year at Emmy time. Now, sharing their over one year anniversary, Michael Fairman TV caught up with Laura and Wes to get some insight into what makes their relationship work amidst the hustle and bustle, and pace of both being on a network television daytime drama series, and with the pressures of Hollywood where often relationships between two actors seem to start hot and heavy but then fizzle out.

If you caught this week’s GH, you witnessed that the town of Port Charles has found out that Peter is the notorious Cesar Faison’s son, and the ramifications that will be felt for weeks and months and potentially years to come. Meanwhile, Carly is in all sorts of trouble, thanks to naughty Nelle (Chloe Lanier). Nelle is making Carly look awfully unstable and what happens next could change Carly’s life forever.

So, what do these two lovebirds have to say about their relationship and their passion for working on the soaps? Check out what they had to share below. 

Wes, you had met Laura originally years ago on Guiding Light.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Yes, 15 years ago in New York.

And what did you think of her then?

Wes: Well, I was smitten, but I had to keep it to myself.

You had to keep it under wraps, huh?

Wes: Yep!

Laura: I was married then.

Wes: She was pregnant with her second child.

Laura: And he’s a good Kentucky boy.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Uh-huh! But we would run lines in the green room and I would try very hard to make sure she didn’t catch me staring at her… too often. But we laughed, and had great conversation.

Laura: I would always say, “Wes, will you run lines with me?,” because I would want to run my lines.

Wes: We never had story together, but she always knew I was game to hang out with her for a moment.

It’s good when you’re in a relationship with someone and you can laugh with them. You seem to be able to do that a lot!

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Laura: Oh, gosh. I think that’s all we do.

Wes: Yes, yes, yes, yes…

Laura: Like, we belly laugh. It gets to the point where people would think we were ridiculous. We’ll say things and just think it’s the funniest thing ever and people would be like, “You guys have a problem …” and we’re like, “Yeah.” (Laughs)

Laura, and then he comes back into your life years later…

Wes: That’s right, it was Emmy weekend 2017.

Laura: I totally was not expecting it at all. Even when I gave him my number I walked away going “huh…”

You mean you thought he wouldn’t call?

Laura: No, I didn’t feel that… because he hit on me hard. He’ll tell you that.

Wes: I still am hitting on her.

Laura: I remember I walked away quick after he got my number. I was like, “Oh, my God … I gotta go.”


Wes: There was an assertiveness on my part that was for sure 15 years in the making. I did not expect to run into her. I also did not expect for her to tell me that she was recently single. In that split second, it was one of those, “stop the presses!” moments. Like, you need to give me your number, I’m taking you to dinner.

Laura: I go, “Oh, be quiet! Are you like, 32, because I can’t do that.” (Laughs)

Wes: And I said, “Far from it.”

Laura: He’s like, “I’m getting ready to be 40.” And I’m like, “I can do that!”

Then, on top of all of this, Wes, you land a primo role on General Hospital. That of Henrik aka Peter, Cesar Faison’s son.

Photo Credit: Courtesy/ABC

Wes: Yes, a dream come true.

Laura: I’m going to jump in and say it’s a role that he worked all on his own for. He had to screen test against 8 plus guys, 3 different auditions, 2 different days.

Wes: That’s true.

Laura: I can’t say strong enough that the best actor got the role. Meaning, Wesley is so talented and has the ability to give this character the depth, and emotion, and layers that it needs to tell the story that needs to be told. I just think he’s incredible.

So, did you know from the get-go who you were going to be playing?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: I did not.

Laura: I did! (Laughs)

Wes: I’m thrilled that the writers have been giving me such incredible material to dive into.   Each month that goes by, it becomes more and more complex, and more and more layered and intense. I love the depth… I love the conflicts… I love the humanity… I love the desperation… I love the psychology behind it. It’s a very interesting story and a great journey to tell.

Laura: I was getting ready to say, where you mentally have to go to be the son of Faison and Anna Devane (Finola Hughes)! To blend that together is amazing. It’s incredible to watch.

You used to run lines together on Guiding Light. Do you run lines together now on GH? It’s like a full circle moment.

Laura: We do, and we carpool.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Wes: Something we were trying to manifest together. We thought it would be a lot of fun to work together one day.

Laura: The last week we worked, we didn’t. He worked all afternoon. I worked all morning. I was like, “Are they doing this on purpose?” I was so mad! I was like, “Why are you in the afternoon everyday?” (Laughs)

Wes: She lost her chauffeur. (Laughs)

Laura: I did! He always drives us to work. I also love when we both have afternoon calls, because we love having mornings together. So, I didn’t get my morning, nor did I have my chauffeur!

So, two actors can have a good relationship? You see so many Hollywood relationships with actors and they go bust. But that’s not always the case …

Wes: Oh, my God, yes.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Laura: I’m going to say this; I think I can see it being more difficult for daytime

actors, because the work we do is so intense. I know the weeks he’s getting ready to go into, and I’m getting ready to go into. Where we go emotionally and psychologically to tell these stories, on the level that we tell them, as quick as we tell them, you kind of have to become really in a headspace. The fact that we can …

Wes: … the long hours …

Laura: Yes, and exhaustion! You really have to go, “Wow! It’s not about me right now. It’s about us individually as actors.” Thank God, we know the workload. I know what he’s getting ready to go through.

Wes: I have always had so much respect for Laura’s work. On Guiding Light, I’ve always been in awe of what she’s capable of doing. So, the level of respect is obviously there. But also, the understanding whatever it is that you need from a personal assistant in one moment… or a life partner in another moment … or a best friend in moment … or whatever it is in order to get through the day-to-day and the week-to-week, so we can do what we love to do. We know we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to do what we love.

Courtesy/welcometolaurasworld Instagram

Laura was such a great co-host on my Soap Nation Live! Daytime Emmy Nomination Specials, in particular when she talks about acting. It’s so rewarding to hear the other actors who are guests on the show listening to what Laura has to say about her craft and respecting the hell out of her.

Wes: Without a doubt. You can’t watch her work and not be in awe. It speaks for itself.

Laura: I just love the journey of going to the places that we go; to bleed for it.

Wes: Leave it all out on the floor.

Laura: I know that process. So, when I see another actor that’s bleeding, I just bow to them, because I know what it takes to go there. I know the work that Wesley does. When I see that he’s spent at the end of the day, I’m like, “Babe, I so get it.” So, I can see where it could be really difficult for people that haven’t been there, because it’s a lot of work and you’re spent. It’s hard! For us, that works.

What do you think of Laura and Wes’ love connection? What do you think of the latest developments for GH’s Carly and Henrik? Comment below.

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General Hospital

GH Nurses’ Ball 2018 Conclusion: Anna Learns Henrik Is Her Son, Maxie Has Her Son, Ava Wows, Mike & Sonny Duet!

In the most moving and exciting episode of this 2018 GH Nurses’ Ball, all roads lead to the truth about Henrik and how he is really living his life as none other than Peter August (Wes Ramsey).  First, Robert (Tristan Rogers) who has punched out by Valentin (James Patrick Stuart) on stage drags him outside of the ballroom for his part in the cover[up.  Robert is worried about Anna’s (Finola Hughes) safety. Nina (Michelle Stafford) confronts her husband about how long he’s known who Henrik is.  She later figures out why he has been trying to whisk her and Charlotte out of the country.


Onstage Mike (Max Gail) takes a mic, and makes a moment of saying he has Alzheimer’s and then launches into the song he remembers,“The Summer Wind.” As he sings, he imagines being accompanied by a big band as he proceeds to deliver a showstopper.  Suddenly, in reality, Mike is lost and disoriented … scared he stares around at the audience.  Sonny (Maurice Benard) gets up to the stage to help his dad by cluing him into the lyrics.  Sonny sings with Mike and gets him through the song.  They receive a standing ovation.

Ava (Maura West) who is preparing to perform her number comes across a moment between Kiki (Hayley Erin) and Griffin (Matt Cohen) backstage where they are in a hug.  Little does Ms. Jerome know that Griffin was consoling Kiki after her lewd run-in with Dr. Bensch (James DePaiva).   Then it is Maura West, who truly brings down the house for this year’s ball with her Ava’s rendition of “You Don’t Own Me.”  That tune was certainly a nod to all those that Ava feels have wronged her.  Yup! Sonny, Griffin and Kiki we think are some on her list!   Dressed in a white pant suit and accompanied by a bevy of male dancers, West knocked the interpretation of the song out of the park, to make it work for her character and the Nurses’ Ball.


Elsewhere, Maxie (Kristen Storms) has gone into labor, and Peter is right there safely delivering her baby boy. Maxie is taken by paramedics to the hospital, while Peter calls Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) at Maxie’s urging to let him know what happened.  Spinelli has just found out, through Sam (Kelly Monaco) and Jason (Steve Burton) that Peter is Henrick!

Anna is walking into a trap on the pier as she waits for Henrick. When he appears, he has no idea that Anna is his mother, and thinks it’s all been a set-up.  He points a gun to eliminate her once and for all, but Anna says she has something to tell him.

The Nurses’ Ball concludes with a touching finale of “Champion” featuring: Epiphany (Sonya Eddy), Felix (Marc Anthony Samuel), Bobbie (Jackie Zeman), Amy (Risa Dorken) and the other nurses.

So, what did you think of the final episode of the GH Nurses’ Ball 2018?  What did you think of the musical performances? Do you think Maxie’s baby will be OK? Will Anna be able to tell Henrik that she is his mom? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Video du Jour

The GH Nurses Ball 2018 concludes this week. After all the performances, and all the drama, what will be the repercussions felt long after the last performance? Watch the latest promo and then let us know, how you think it will end! Leave A Comment

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