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Teen Abuse, Mobster In Peril, Young Love & Baby Drama – Chats from the Set of GH!

Courtesy/ABC

This week on General Hospital as fans watch the unraveling of a hot button social issue play out on-air, I got the opportunity to talk with some of the participants of the storyline on my recent set visit to the top rated ABC soap. Fans have already witnessed Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) beaten to a bloody and swollen pulp by her pseudo- boyfriend, the abusive scum-bag, Kiefer, all the while blaming it on poor Ethan. Not only has this story provided a vehicle for Daytime Emmy winners, Maurice Benard (Sonny) and Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) to show off their acting chops in a glorious way, but it has provided GH with a story arc with many implications and ramifications that resonates to young women and their parents in the soap viewing audience.

Maurice Benard told me that the GH story train just keeps the hits comin’ “This train is rolling really great, and it’s not going to stop. The story that I am really praising is when Kristina gets beat up, (and I have not seen it), but doing it with the actors was unreal. When I saw Lexi Ainsworth (Kristina) with the bruises, it was like the feelings I would have with my own daughter. Sonny takes off on this whole thing and then goes on to remember his own abuse and how his step-father would beat him, and put him in the closet, and he how he would beat his mother, too.”  So how is Lexi doing, holding her own with the big Benard?  “She is fantastic. We were doing a scene, and she was having a problem with it. So I gave her something personal, and so towards the end of the scene, I said, ‘When you get to this line… think about what I said’, and she got to this line and she just broke, completely broke, and I held her.”   Maurice known for letting his work deeply affect him emotionally and physically, once again displayed that same raw emotion, when viewers witnessed the recently aired scenes where Kristina lay in the hospital. “When I walked in and I saw Christina with that make-up and she said Ethan did it… that’s it!  These guys don’t rationalize.  It’s wrong, but they don’t think that way. My little girl looks like she has been hit by Mike Tyson. ‘Who did it? You? Done.’ There is one scene with Alexis where she is beating on me!  Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) hits me and it’s great.” (Laughs)

But dredging up his past abuse and how his on-screen daughter is in a very bad place is not the only thing Sonny Corinthos is dealing with. Throw in a huge courtroom drama for allegedly killing his wife Claudia and shooting his son Dante a cop, into the mix, and it’s really been Maurice’s time to shine once again. “I am playing this story like he is going to prison.  It could go two ways, even if he escapes and breaks out before he goes to prison, he can never come back, and if he goes to prison, he feels he will die of claustrophobia. I do think he deserves what he is getting right now.  If you as a viewer think I deserve it than I am not doing my job.  I have to portray what is happening inside. You know, what he does is wrong, but you know what? This guy is not a bad guy.  I am sure there are a bunch of Sonny “haters” out there, but a lot of people love him, and a lot of people love to hate him.” Maurice then previews a huge courtroom scene! “You wait till Johnny gets on the stand.  Sonny goes off on Johnny. Johnny accuses him of hitting Claudia.  What was great about that day, after those scenes Sonny went to Christina’s, and she accuses me of abusing women. And, I don’t know what I did that day, but I broke down. This is what Johnny did to him. There is a line I added, ‘I never hit Claudia, and I never hit a woman in my life. Thank God, I can say that with conviction.’  Back in the day, there was a point where I have to say, the ABC network was right and I was wrong.  I had a scene with Brenda; I felt that he felt he should hit her. And they said “No”, and so I just grabbed her and threw her. Thank God they said no, because I would not have been able to say these lines in 2010.”

Courtesy/ABC

A moment that many fans of GH were in shock and awe over was the recent payoff when Sonny confronts Dominic (Dante) and shoots him in cold blood, never realizing that it is his own flesh… and blood!  Maurice told me working with Dominic Zamprogna (Dante) has been nothing short of extraordinary. “All I can say about Dominic is, if he were a woman this is the greatest chemistry ever! (Laughs) But the way he looks and is, I love it. He is a great, great find, because he is so real. When I watch him, you just believe it.  Here is the bottom line on all this storyline wise:  When that is done (shooting Dante), first of all, it’s wrong.  But the thing is this, like my wife Paula said, ‘Sonny had always been a vigilante, and he kills bad people.’ That put me in perspective. This is the only time Sonny crossed the line, but to him it was a “rat”, and he did not know.  This is the first time they have done something where he is crossing the line.  The acting all the way around, it’s fantastic. You need to keep pushing this envelope with the viewers.  With the way the medium is going you have to do great story after great story, because that is what keep the fans going, but if you go great story, and then it sucks, it’s difficult!”

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With the Daytime Emmy Pre-Nominations just announced, and Benard receiving a nod with Tony Geary (Luke) from his peers for the Outstanding Lead Actor category, I asked him which episode is he going to submit? Maurice has had his triumphs and disappointments with the Emmy process, previously.  “I said to my wife, ‘You look for the episode,’ because it’s all good.  I use to take this stuff so seriously. So she did look for me and I agreed with her. We went with the moment Sonny exposes Claudia and that show.”   As a soap journo, I concurred with Benard that his performance was one of the most powerful performances of the past soap season.  After all, it made the On-Air On-Soaps Top Ten Best Soap Moments of 2009!

Nancy Lee Grahn, known to be a bit controversial and outspoken on GH storylines and most especially her own, feels that this time, this story arc gives Alexis a whole other side to playing a mother to a teen. “That is about a family, and something that happens in real life to a family, and that given the components of her parents, it’s a very likely thing to happen to her. Without explaining the history of the characters which you already know, there is a line of abuse on both sides, and add to that a line of not taking care of yourself.  I thought, give me something emotionally grounded and I’m happy… I like to act.”  Nancy, always an advocate on important political issues and human rights says, if she were asked to speak on teenage abuse and how it affects the parents and the child, she would jump at the chance now. “I would certainly offer my services to draw attention to it, absolutely. I would have done this before this storyline.  However, this storyline had made me aware of how prevalent this is. No matter how good a mother you think you are the signs in a child that age are all confusing anyway. Now with teenagers… because of the media, and because of this shift and perception in what sexuality is, and how violence enters into it, and the words that are used, and how men and women talk to each other now, seems to be acceptable and normal. Not only do we now need to talk about safe sex… we need to talk about violence, abuse, sexual abuse, all of these things within that need to be in a conversation. It can’t just be about, ‘This is what sex is, and you need to do this, and you need a condom.’  We need to get into it. We need to start talking. Personally, I am scared. I don’t get it and its mind boggling.”  Nancy says her on-screen daughter, Lexi Ainsworth is going to make all soap viewers grab for many boxes of Kleenex! “Oh yes. She will make you cry. Lexi is very connected to this storyline and she is doing a good job.”

Courtesy/ABC

The girl at the center of it all, GH newbie Lexi Ainsworth, (The SORAS’d Kristina) tells me she knows that there are so many intricacies to teen abuse, from feeling like you deserve the abuse, to having the abuse being the only way to hold on to your boyfriend, to getting attention and feeling alive, all very conflicting.  “It is confusing for Kristina and for me as Lexi.  It’s a combination of things. She does blame herself when Kiefer does hit her, and it’s almost like she wants things to change, and she wants things to be better between Kiefer and her. So she is like, maybe next time I won’t do this and then he won’t hit me. So she is trying to fix this guy and does not realize that she can’t. Definitely the attention thing plays into it. Kristina’s mom has not been the best role model or her dad.”  Lexi hopes that the whole story will garner attention, so teens take notice! “I hope other teenage girls will learn from what has happened to Kristina, and to learn it’s not OK for a guy to hit you and that you should not put up with it!”  Well said!

Dominic Zamprogna and Julie Berman, GH’s hottest young couple of Dante and Lulu and I also conversed.  Berman said she is in love with loving her on-screen romance! “I think it’s so refreshing and different from the other love stories that I have played.  I really like that they are taking their time and really indulging themselves in the smaller moments, and writing these things where we get to play “rock band” and “glow in the dark” condoms, and different real details of a relationship. I love that.”   But of course, when things are good in soapland a couple will need some good drama! “I am sure the waters haven’t gotten stirred yet, but soon you have to see a difference of opinion, and that these two will have to have conflict and overcome.”   So, since the two young stars both worked with Maurice, I had to find out the best and worst part of working with the soap superstar. “A lot of times before the scene when he is ready to perform, Maurice gets everyone around him pumped up,” Julie says. “He elevates everything to a more intense level and it’s just his style and it’s very interesting, where I feel like we are going into a boxing match.  It’s cool and you are pumped.   As far as the worst part, I have not worked with him enough to be able to comment.”   Next, Dominic chimed in! “Best part of working with Maurice is a lot of what Julie said, but from day one when you are in a scene with him, you feel like you are after one ultimate goal scene-wise. Now your characters may not be after the same thing, but with him there is that undeniable intensity. Worst thing is, sometimes I cannot help but laugh, because Maurice makes me laugh and especially when it’s a serious thing. I think he has a hard time keeping a straight face. Then they will be counting down and so I will look at his shoulder, so I won’t laugh. (Laughs)

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At the end of my set visit, I got to talk to two of my favorite people on the series, the uber-talented Jonathan Jackson (Lucky) and the very sweet, Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth).  I have never gotten the opportunity to interview them together, since Jonathan has been gone for so many years. But this rare opportunity gave me the chance to ask JJ all about those knock em’ sock em’ scenes where he literally took the halo off the tarnished Elizabeth Webber.  As I said to JJ, it was those scenes that will surely win him an Emmy in 2011.  “That was a really intense show, and doing the scenes they were just hard to describe. Becky was amazing and present and available. It’s such a weird thing when you go that far and you start yelling things like that at people you love. I was in my dressing room before the scenes, and it’s less about a process of me trying to do something than me trying to get out of the way, and let what is real happen in the moment and with that stuff.  I know it was God working with us. We said a prayer before the scenes. And we said, ‘We are in this together and let us try to portray this for what it really is,’ and what it is… brokenness, and that is really a devastating thing when you love somebody, and to have that wounding and betrayal, it’s terrible. I am sure many can relate to what we have been through on-air.  It was tragic.”  Becky concurred on the big moments, “Jonathan actually seemed like one more step and he was going to take my head off. Honestly, it was not so hard to be present when he was yelling at me like he did.”

Now with all the baby daddy drama, in the end, after all the DNA switches, and Helena’s machinations, who does Becky want the father to be?  “Of course, Elizabeth would love it to be Lucky’s and I personally would love it to be Lucky’s, because I think it’s about time.”  Jonathan piped up and said, “I think if he is not the father of the third one that would probably draw the line.” I would think so Lucky! Please don’t be a daddy to three other men’s kids!   So with any soap comes many detours for star-crossed lovers. But at this point, are Lucky and Liz that?  Becky told me, “You got to break-up to get back together.  We have to have drama in our lives to fight to get back together…that is soaps.” Jonathan feels it’s going to be a battle to overcome the tremendous obstacles of the couple, but there is hope. “To be honest with you, I do think that is possible. But it would have to take time, and be an incredible sort of process of forgiveness and newness, and that would be a redemption and rebirth. I love to play that because it is something we all go through in life and they are very human emotions, whether its reconciliation or forgiveness. Those are powerful things to walk through. To see them having to play conflict that is not coming from exterior forces, but coming from between them, I think is someway more challenging to portray that in a very real powerful way.  It’s going to be two people who have been torn apart trying to find a way to love each other and not loving each other the way they used to, but truly having to fall in love again.” Rebecca added, “Would it ever be back to normal and back to ten years ago? Probably not, and we don’t want that anyway.  It is about the journey and I would love to see it go there.”

As I left Port Charles, I bumped into GH executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps. I told her that the show is rocking right now and that it has been giving the viewers several intrinsic stories at one time that keep it interesting and vital, something we have not seen in a long time from the venerable soap.   Come back next week for the video interviews with the above mentioned stars.    Gotta leave the Hospital… for now!

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Dee
Dee

Jonathan and Becky, we (LnL2 fans) would love to see it go there as well!!! You have NO idea. We’re pulling for Lucky and Elizabeth to get through this. No more external forces. We want to see Lucky and Elizabeth work through the internal issues between them. We’re looking forward to watching them fall in love again because, to us, they are just as Michael Fairman described them…star-crossed lovers, the very definition of soulmates. We want to see them overcome this latest obstacle and come out stronger and better than ever, as individuals and as a couple!

Christian
Christian

Loved all of the interviews. Jonathan and Becky as Lucky and Elizabeth are two of my all time favorite soap characters on GH. I have loved Elizabeth since she came on, and Becky has steadily been a fantastic character to watch. Having Jonathan back has been a real treat. I have followed his career since he left, and am a huge fan of his band Enation. Having him back as like having the other half of the permanent lock back; complete. Cheesy enough to hope for the church wedding where they said their permanent lock vows! I do not wish to negate Greg or Jacob’s portrayals of Lucky, but I have to admit that JJ was always Lucky to me. I can not picture anyone else playing Lucky if Jonathan were to leave again. Same thing goes for Rebecca Herbst as Elizabeth, she is Elizabeth, period. IMO-they had one of the most powerful, most beautiful love stories ever on General Hospital, especially in the 90’s. It is not my want to see them go back to ten years ago either b/c they were kids. I could not imagine JJ and RH not doing LL2 now with JJ back. Soap writers may not believe in ever after anymore, or supercouples, but I do. JJ and RH have what it takes, I hope they write them a fantastic, amazing chapter for their lovestory. Jonathan was phenom in that scene, but Becky was more than present, she was devastated and I remember watching how she continuingly covered herself the entire scene, whether or not that was unconscience or purposeful it showed her shame, it was a fantastic scene. I have high hopes for a “classic” Cassadine/Spencer war with the beautiful damsel Elizabeth caught in between…hoping for something crazy towards Becky’s maternity leave..can you imagine JJ Lucky frantic and desperate to find his girl…

Cakelover20
Cakelover20

Loved the article. I am very interested in the teen abuse storyline.
I enjoy watching Nancy and Maurice act and this story is very good.
I agree that no man should ever lay a hand on a woman.
I guess my concern is when did it become okay for a woman to attack a man?
The scenes that followed the initial abuse reveal with Sam going to Ethan and attacking him from behind has taken away from the impact of this story. I think GH should play it both ways. Men should not hit women for any reason and vice versa!!!!

My only other concern is that this show is highlighting an abuse storyline and then trying to sell a LL2 reunion. When to me, the LL2 relationship has been abusive for years.

Faye
Faye

TRUE! LIKE MANY OTHERS ON GH FB: I am officially done with GH, until these current s/l’s are over! Though, I will remain a MB/Sexis fan and check in here (awesome site)! That will give me more time to dedicate to my soap blog re: the issue of diversity or lack of in soaps! My husband who is in advertising writes an award winning blog. He recognized these patterns as status quo and predicted where the writng for MB in particular was headed months ago.

Sorry if some may disagree, however I feel that at this point MB, NLG or L.A would not have this problem with the writers & TPTB if it weren’t still an issue! Abc has an awful track record appropriately addressing diversity and women, particularly as it pertains to leading male actors. The addition of women of color who are paired with white males is no where near groundbreaking & to an extent an insult when the same writers refuse to write positively for male actors. I will continue to write & call. However, I’ll forward those emails and opinions to opposing networks and GH’s advertisers because they have extended their reach by favoring journalists who tout their point of view. This s/l was intended to bolster Ethan, Jason & Johnny (only the white male characters). Even Krissy, the victim was thrown under the bus in an effort to acheive this. Many soap writers are inadvertently admitting to the later in their articles. Yet the writers for GH pretty much ran a PSA, that Kristina’s own father’s (not a white male) history is not an issue because “It’s not about him…”

Thank you Mr. Fairman for remaining an independent source on all things soaps! You do a fantastic job and your efforts are greatly appreciated!

Elena
Elena

I loved the interviews and I do agree that Maurice is rocking this story as is Nancy and Lexi and I can’t wait to see what happens to their characters when the truth is finally revealed and I hope that my Sonny doesn’t do jail time because I love Sonny and Maurice is the best that daytime has to offer.

Christina
Christina

Loved the article, but can’t wait for the video interviews!

I completely agree with Cakelover20 about everything.

Doe
Doe

Wonderful Gh article, Michael. Love to hear from the actors with their feelings and how they go to those dark places to get their story told. GH is getting better now with the abuse story and delivering a powerful message to parents and their children about behavior, good and bad.Can’t wait to see how Kiefer gets exposed for the times he beat up Kristina. Hope it doesn’t take too long, because Ethan is hanging in the wind. Maurice is in his element right now delivering powerful performances every time out. I think all of us fans are totally involved in all the stories being told right now and that’s good!

Katie
Katie

Michael, you do have a way with the actors which makes for great interviews! I think the GH actors have their work cut out for them because to me, the writing doesn’t quite measure up to the acting ability on this show. Maurice and Dominic do have great chemistry. Maurice is such a great actor. Dominic has been one of the best new additions on GH. Julie Marie never disappoints. Lexi has been fantastic in her storyline, and Nancy excels all the time. The teen abuse storyline is very timely. I agree with Nancy about society’s acceptance of certain behavior/language having to do with how prevalent teen violence and violence in general is today. I’ve thought the Lucky and Elizabeth relationship has been pretty abusive since 2000, even before the cheating from both of them began. I’m so fond of Jonathan Jackson, but I’ve not been a fan of the couple since he left the show in 1999. He and Rebecca Herbst are amazing in their scenes together and have beautiful chemistry. However, over the years, the Lucky and Elizabeth relationship has been written as two people continually going back to each other for the wrong reasons. I left a verbally abusive marriage and have never regretted it. I think Elizabeth should have broken up with Lucky for good back in 2000, but I don’t write the show. I can relate to someone trying to make a relationship work even when deep down you know the other person who is abusive is the one who has to change. I also think no one should hit a person, male or female. I hope that this Kristina storyline focuses more on her getting over feelings that she should try to protect her abuser and that she somehow “deserves” to be abused by her boyfriend. I also am disappointed Kristina lied about Ethan, but she obviously was upset that Ethan was not interested in her romantically so she lashed out in her own way. Hopefully, Kristina will regret her lie and can apologize and repair that damage.

Ava
Ava

Liz and Lucky. JJ & BH. That is the ONLY Liz and Lucky who have ever mattered, or were believable. These two people love each other more than their own lives. They were destroyed with the horrible recasts after the fire.

JJ is back, the chemistry is as strong now as it was in ’99. PLEASE Guza, give us back this beautiful, soulful, last remaining super couple from a bygone era. We’ve waited long enough. You finally have a couple worth writing for again.

Your ratings cannot withstand much more. Give your audience the beautiful, timeless love that is Liz and Lucky.

Leigh
Leigh

Thinking about what Elizabeth said to Helena about how she’s the devil their destroyed their lives years ago…their love has never been the same since Lucky came back. Remember Lucky slept with Sarah years ago….it has been one thing after another, but completely agree, JJ and BH are incredible together, they are LL2, if possible their chemistry has grown. Call it a permanent connection or “lock” btwn actors, but it’s there…you can’t pay for their chemistry, you either have it or you don’t, and they have it in spades.

Tina
Tina

I’m so glad to see the teen abuse storyline but not impressed at all with showing a man being abused by a woman (Sam and Ethan). That is sending such a wrong message. Abuse is abuse, no matter who’s fists and feet are delivering it.

Bussey
Bussey

I think the Kristina storyline has spiraled completely out of control. Granted the acting is phenomenal but somehow the heart of the matter is lost and apparently on the viewers as well. Kristina having a temper tantrum because Ethan is not interested in her romantically and pointing the finger to him is appalling–period!!!…That alone makes it hard to feel sorry for her because you see a spoiled kid instead of a kid who’s gotten the crap beat out of her by a loser of a boyfriend. It takes away the pity factor–sorry but it does. Then to have Sam of all people attack Ethan is downright ridiculous so I won’t bother to comment further on her impact.

Lucky and Liz’s relationship is dysfunctional at best. We watched Liz be physically repulsed by Lucky while she was sleeping with Nik and now we’re to believe that she’s madly (Shadybrook maddening at that) in love with him? Give me a break!!…I haven’t seen love between these two literally since their teen years…I see Liz being totally dependent on a loser of a man who is verbally abusive to her…Let’s see TIIC take on that storyline. I know it would never happen considering the obvious biased writing toward JJ since his return…but one can hope…I hope that TPTB blow LL2 apart but this time FOR GOOD!!!

Michelle
Michelle

Bussey I 100% agree with you. I feel horrible, but I find it difficult to feel bad for Kristina. TPTB have taken a storyline that is compelling and important to tell and made a mockery of it for “soaps” sake. So instead of feeling sympathy for Kristina, I feel terrible for Ethan. And having Sam attack Ethan is awful. I cannot wait for the truth to come out so that smug look on Sam’s face will go away.
One question…..NO ONE thinks to question the boyfriend? Didn’t Ethan stop Kiefer from man-handling Kristina on more than one occassion? Kristina has a history of lying, shouldn’t someone do some detective work…..Lucky maybe?
IOh and one more thing….could the character of Claire be any worse? The writing for her is horrendous. Really…a DA can just show up in a defendant’s house and question/harass him? Does GH have a legal consultant???

Tonya
Tonya

I think they missed the mark on all of the stories, but the actors have been outstanding. The LL2/Nik story has made me sad b/c there has been zero therapy other than the one scene with nik and Lucky which was unrealistic IMO. I adore Becky, and when she eyed that rocking chair when she first got to SB-chillling. I was looking foward to Elizabeth mentally “checking out” for a bit and Helena further messing with her mental stability, but all we’ve gotten is sad scene repeat scenes with Nik/Lucky. The best scenes in SB were when she first got there w/ Nik/Jason/Lucky and then Patrick. The Helena/Lucky scene was awesome as well, but we haven’t gotten much other than that. She is a pregnant woman who was suicidal, she was on the roof of a hospital sitting on the ledge for crying out loud! Where is the therapy?!

The Kristina story has totally been lost to me b/c they could have really used this opportunity to educate the audience, having Kristina outright blame an innocent man who time and time again defended her against Keifer is ridiculous. Why hasn’t Ethan thought of Keifer yet? Keifer is supposed to be from an abusive home, as ugly as the scene would be, why not an abusive scene with Keifer and his parents so we get a glimpse of the monstrosities he’s had to live with? Now I’m reading rumors that Keifer gets killed?! I would have whether seen keifer come clean on his own accord and want help b/c of being terrified of what he was capable of doing, that would have been so much more powerful, not to mention the guy playing Keifer is awesome, it could have made for a return story later. totally bummed, but again, all actors are doing an amazing job, so much talent.

Adriana
Adriana

LL2 always and forever!!!!!!!!!! I don’t understand how people cna sya that they’re abusive because they are absolute magic together! I hated Liz with Jason and I think deep down Liz, Jason, Lucky, the Port Charles residents, and the viewers all know that Liz’s heart will always belong with Lucky.

General Hospital

GENERAL HOSPITAL: Michael Blasts Brad As The Truth About Wiley Comes Out

FINALLY! On Wednesday’s episode of General Hospital, Lucas (Ryan Carnes) memory is jogged just enough that he clearly remembers Brad’s (Parry Shen) shocking words before their car crash; where Brad confessed that Wiley was Nelle (Chloe Lanier) and Michael’s (Chad Duell) biological son.

At the Corinthos home, Lucas stands up and announces to Michael that Wiley is actually his believed to be dead son, Jonah. Carly’s (Laura Wright) mouth drops and then she takes over getting to the root of the truth of the baby switch.

Brad is cornered and left with no choice but to fess up. He explains how Wiley died when he was no longer breathing, and how he was driving with him, when he ended up on the route where Nelle left Michael to die in the car he was driving (Michael recalls this bit of Intel in a flashback).

Then, Brad explains how Nelle appeared with her newborn baby and claimed the whole thing was engineered by Nelle …  and how he was so upset and panicked, that he went along with her plan.

Michael lets Brad have it for all of his lies and machinations, and the pain it has inflicted on so many people for over a year and half.  How on earth could he do that? Carly also lays into him.

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Meanwhile, Sasha (Sofia Matteson) has urgently called Chase (Josh Swickard), who leaves “Wiley” and Willow (Katelyn MacMullen) behind, and heads to the Corinthos’ where he hears the whole sad truth about the baby switch.

With Chase gone, Nelle goes looking for “Wiley” who is with Willow, and the two get into a major throwdown catfight.  Nelle comes out the victor and goes to get her baby ready to leave town with her son.

So, what did you think of how the truth finally came out?  What did you think of Michael’s tirade on Brad? What do you think will happen next? Comment below.

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General Hospital

GH’s James Patrick Stuart Talks on Valentin’s Downfall and Potential Rise to Power

After all his bravado, machinations and lies to keep the woman he loves, and believing he was the rightful heir to the Cassadine fortune, suddenly it all came crashing down for Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart) on recent episodes of General Hospital.

Payback can be a bitch, but for Valentin; who’s past has been fraught with numerous physical and emotional tribulations since his childhood, he now finds himself at the lowest point in his life; losing Nina (Cynthia Watros) who’s now taken up with Jax (Ingo Rademacher), realizing he is the biological son of the evil Helena Cassadine (Constance Towers), and not Mikkos, and having all his best laid plans and misdeeds backfire.  (Remember, he shot and “killed” Nikolas, and set up the ruse that led Sasha to pretend she was Nina’s bio-daughter.)  Now, enter Nelle Benson (Chloe Lanier), who could very well hold the ticket, to Valentin’s rise to wealth and power all over again.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with James Patrick Stuart to get the lowdown on: those heavy and emotional scenes opposite Constance Towers, working with Cynthia Watros as his newest Nina, if Valentin might really kill Jax the next time he thinks about it, and what about a potential relationship between Anna (Finola Hughes) and Valentin?

Not many can play bad as good as James in this industry.  He does it so effortlessly and still brings out the humanity in the guy that has t-r-o-u-b-l-e written all over him.  Here’s what James had to share about all of Valentin’s recent dramatic moments, a tease of what’s to come, and much more.

Photo: JPI

Valentin’s world has imploded at the moment.  When did you initially find out that he was going to turn out to not be a true Cassadine heir?

JAMES:  Well, there were some clues dropped by Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) back when we did the gallery auction where Helena’s portrait went up in flames.  Frank looked at me and goes, “Hey, Jack Nicholson it up.  Have some fun!  You’re not going to be feeling pretty good for a while.”  (Laughs)  I’m like, “Oh … what are the plans?”  He pulled me aside and goes, “Yeah, you’re going to lose Nina, but you’re going to try to take over ELQ.  That’s when I started to go, “Wait a minute!  That sounds to me like Valentin’s losing his money.”  (Laughs)  With the character of Nikolas (Marcus Coloma) coming back; it’s pretty great.  I think the writing was on the wall there.  I put it out on twitter the other day.  I said, “Look what they’ve done to my boy.”  Somebody chimed in, “They gave him a storyline!” (Laughs)

Who doesn’t love to see you, James Patrick Stuart, play tortured soul?  They audience loves to see you get the opportunity to go to those depths in your performances.

JAMES:  It’s been really interesting for me.  I’ve had a lifetime of playing bad guys because the line was always shorter. (Laughs)  Everybody wants to be Tom Cruise, but the Alan Rickman’s of it all, to me, were what was so interesting.  Early on, you play one dimensional kind of twisting of the mustache, tying a woman to the train tracks.  After a while, you start to watch the truly great actors.  They start to take you on a ride.  If you’re paying attention, you start to feel what it would be like to be that damaged, and that’s why you do it.  Then you start to see the vulnerability. To me, I thought, “This is a great time in my life because I’m ready to do that.” A lot of people say, “I don’t understand.  I feel like that makes no sense. because why would I root for a person who behaves like this?” and that to me, I feel is the greatest compliment of all.

So much happened recently to Valentin in one fell swoop; he overhears Nina telling Ava (Maura West) she kissed Jax, then he envisions shooting Jax and then he is drinking himself into oblivion and he gets a “visit” from Helena!  But … the scenes between Valentin and Helena really summed up the bitter truth for him, wouldn’t you say?

JAMES:  Yes.  In the “Helena” scenes, it all basically is revealed.  It all comes down in a moment where he “sees” her.  I think he realizes with the DNA test; he’s not the person he thought he was, but he certainly had no idea that he had her blood in his veins.  The truly tragic moment of the evening is when it dawns on him that he has a daughter with Helena’s blood in her veins.  Now, he would kill her a thousand times over in that moment.  He can’t do it.  He’s fighting phantoms.  That’s the bottom below the bottom, and things got worse than he ever thought they would get.

Courtesy/ABC

Does Valentin have any idea then, who his biological father could be?

JAMES:  I don’t think so.  I don’t believe so.  I know I don’t.  I think once he realizes that Helena is in fact the mother, I think he’d rather just go into oblivion.  I think at that point, he’s out of answers.  Enter Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn) …which is wonderful because I think the world of Nancy, and she saves the day.   Alexis basically talks him out of hurting himself, telling him to count his blessings that he is not a Cassadine, etc, which was a really sweet moment.

I assume, when you have this kind of material to play, it must be exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time?

JAMES:  I think that’s exactly right.  As an actor, I think you want to do this stuff.  Maura West and I compare notes all the time.  I think it can be kind of emotionally draining.  You do feel it, and I felt it when I had spent a lot of time with Nina and Valentin, and when the actresses changed, and we brought Cynthia Watros in.  I worked twice as hard to make sure that Cynthia’s landing was as easy as possible, and I really grew attached to the Nina and Valentin connection.  So, when Jax steps in, Cynthia’s love life means nothing to me, I don’t care about that, but Nina’s love life means a lot to me!  And it bums me out, and I don’t know that I’ll actually be watching any future love scenes between them as much as I love them both!  I have a deep attachment to the Valentin connection to Nina.  So, the lines get burred because we just play these characters so long.

Photo: JPI

What was it like sharing those tough scenes with Constance? No one can play icy, evil villainess like her … and yet in real life, she is such a gracious and kind-hearted woman.

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JAMES:  In real life, Constance is such a sweetheart, and she’s so grateful to be there.  She was so ready to work, and rehearse, and play, and find the stuff, and she was great.  I’d been in scenes with her before.  Last time, we didn’t really talk to each other.  I was with the hump.  I was being Valentin pre-surgery.  It was some sort of moment in a graveyard, but this time we actually got to interact with each other.

You look at Valentin, and he’s not had the greatest life.  Do you bring his entire back-story into your performance; such as when he was deformed with the hump and how he had to literally reconstruct his life both in the physical and in emotional ways for many years?

JAMES:  Absolutely.  It’s the brokenness that he’s making choices from.  He was never truly and authentic person to begin with which is why his love fell apart.  He’s always been faking.  He’s always been putting on a show.  That’s not sustainable in matters of the heart.  It was unbelievably easy for Jax to swoop in, because it was inevitable that things were going to fall apart.  Of course, that anger and that brokenness were what lead him to want to kill Jax.  There’s no question.  He was prepared to do that.  If you look in the eyes in the fantasy sequence in the shooting, he just wanted to watch him die.  He wanted to watch the light go out in Jax’s eyes.  He was so furious … and even more tragic is … that was all he could think of, and somehow, he realized in that moment that wouldn’t work, because he’d lose his daughter.

Photo: JPI

Anna and Finn (Michael Easton) just kind of busted up.  Do you think Anna and Valentin will hookup? There is a connection and a history between the two of them whenever they seem to be in proximity of one another.

JAMES:  Personally, I’m waiting for that.  I hope so!  There is a finesse and elegance to that woman, and not only that, there is an effortless to the connection between Valentin and Anna, if one can say that about one’s own coupling.  I love to look at it!  I think we go together like a wink and a smile.  I just find that chemistry really great.  I think that’s mostly Finola, though.  She can probably have chemistry with most anything.

Valentin was going to leave Port Charles with Charlotte (Scarlett Fernandez), after Nikolas revealed all and the fallout began.  Interestingly enough, it was Anna who came to Valentin’s side and tried to talk him down from fleeing with his daughter and showed such compassion for him!

JAMES:  Wasn’t that great?  She was the one who got him.  She was the one who was able to calm the beast.  There was no one else he would have listened to.  In the moment in the police station, after Charlotte had been kidnapped, and there is that moment where Anna has that bruise, I thought it was such a tender moment.  I just said, “If I kiss my finger and touch your wound?” and she’s like, “Do it.”  It was just this moment where we had been bitter rivals and enemies for so long, but he just adores her so much it’s undeniable that he sees her wounded and wants to make it better.  It’s floating out there waiting to be done.  I know that everybody knows it.  It’s just a matter of what the right away to go about in the writing would be.

Photo: JPI

So, you’ve worked opposite two acting dynamos in the role of Nina – Michelle Stafford and now, Cynthia Watros.  Was the transition difficult for you when Cynthia came to GH?

JAMES:  It wasn’t.  It was scary because Michelle Stafford wasn’t just one in a million, I mean, she is one of a kind.  The last thing in the world that I would ever want to consider doing myself was recast that actress.  So, my deal was (and I’ve said this to Cynthia) I said, “I have no control over this.  All I can do is make the landing as easy as possible for Cynthia.”  We did a lot of photoshoots together, and I had flowers waiting for her, and I did everything possible to make sure that she knew that she had a friend and that she had somebody that was going to make it as easy as possible.  It was rough because a lot of the trolls on social media were just awful to her… just brutal, and she goes, “I have thick skin.  I can take it,” and then a week later, she goes, “I’ve closed all my social media accounts!”  (Laughs)  It’s been fun to watch those guys turn around and go, “You have a really special person.”  That wedding stuff was just incredible!  She came so prepared and she knocked it out of the park.  Cynthia has been wonderful.  I love them both.  I love her the reddest, and I love Michelle the bluest, and together I love them the purplest.  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

It’s interesting that all the women in his life such as Anna and Nina, all have a soft-spot for Valentin; even though they don’t necessarily want to be with him.  These ladies are just drawn to this dysfunctional guy.

JAMES:  Don’t you think?  Is it that you want to help him, you want to fix him, you see the potential, you want to help him despite himself?  I think that’s what it is.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you think Valentin’s still going to try to win Nina back, or is that done? 

JAMES:  I don’t know.  I do know that the Valentin I know will never shake Nina, and when he loves, he loves forever.  He can be simultaneously in love with Anna whenever she’s near.  I don’t believe he ever truly got over Nina hearing his story and his brokenness and still loving him twice as hard.  Years ago, there was a moment where he said to her the stuff that he’s never said, and Michelle beautifully kissed my tears away and said, “You’re beautiful” to me.   I think in that moment his fate was sealed.  I think he knew that this was his woman forever.  So, I just don’t think that that goes away.  I think he will always carry a torch for Nina, for sure.

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Do you see Valentin becoming darker and darker now that he had found out he is Helena’s offspring?

JAMES:  Well, yes and no.  I remember watching these scenes and we’ve done a lot of this stuff, and you know how easy it is to sort of go, “Let’s go dark, let’s go dark, let’s go more dark,” and after a while, I go, “You know, maybe he does learn something.  Maybe there’s hope for this guy after all.”  Of course, more bad stuff will happen to him, and he will do more bad stuff, because that’s just who he is.  A leopard can’t change his spots, and those are his survival instincts, but there are some new colors, and it’s all a direct result of all of just these horrible things that have happened to him… mostly learning that he is part Helena and he can’t undo that.

Photo: JPI

We saw that Nelle (Chloe Lanier) called and then goes to see Valentin, because she wants to sell her shares of ELQ.  So, obviously he has the potential to become really rich here which is what would give him his power back.  How do you think that will go over with the rest of the Quartermaines? (Laughs)

JAMES:  (Laughs) A lot of the Quartermaine actors have been asking me that in the hallways of General Hospital!  Isn’t that interesting how he’ll just sort of switch families? (Laughs)

Of all the people, just as Valentin’s life is in the gutter and he is at his lowest, who should show up with a sort of lifeline, Nelle! How will he go about attempting to gain control of ELQ?

JAMES:  Valentin knows he has to get the majority shares to gain a control of the company, and he has to do it fast before people see that he’s doing it.  So, that’s where Michael E. Knight (Martin Gray) has been.  He’s gallivanting the states rapidly accumulating shares.  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

It’s been so fun seeing you and Michael Knight on-screen and on a daytime soap together again, as so many remember you as Tad Martin and Will Cortlandt on All My Children.  How has it been getting the chance to work with Michael?

JAMES:  My God, are you kidding me?  He taught me!  He’s the guy who taught me.  I didn’t know how to do this.  Nobody instinctively knows… this is a very unique art form.  It’s more Jazz than anything else, and he showed me how to do it!  Walt Willey (Ex-Jack, AMC) showed me how to do my hair, and Michael Knight taught me how to break down a script!  And, what’s so funny is he is still doing it.  In a scene on GH, when he threw in that line, “From now on, you pay in advance,” I just about fell on the floor!  I thought, “There he is!  That’s the Michael I’ve always known and loved.”

Photo: JPI

Who would have thought that you guys would get to share scenes like that again on soaps?  You just never know in this life who may be wind up back in your orbit.

JAMES:  It’s incredible.  That’s what we say all of the time… “Who would have thought?”  You could never plan something like this and that we’d still be doing it at this point.

Now with Lulu (Emme Rylan) learning that Valentin is not a Cassadine, and Nina apparently moving on to a relationship with Jax, what do you think it will mean for their relationship in raising their daughter, Charlotte?

JAMES:  I think in the short-term, Valentin’s shelved any ideas of getting her out of Charlotte’s life.  He’s sort of putting out the fires in his own personal life.  Charlotte needs a mother in her life, and he’s quite willing to share custody as they always have been.  She seems to be looking at this as an opportunity to paint him as an unfit father, and she wants full-time custody.  So, we’re back to that again.  It looks to me like Lulu is kicking Valentin while he’s down.

Photo: JPI

It was so nice to see you, and some of your GH co-stars such as: Steve Burton (Jason) and Maurice Benard (Sonny) show up for Y&R’s Eric Braeden’s (Victor Newman) 40th anniversary on set celebration at CBS.  It was quite the event; speakers galore, and so many from our industry and beyond in attendance.

JAMES:  It was pretty profound.  Eric has always been kind to me.  I only worked with him on one movie, a western, called The Man Who Came Back, and that was probably 12 years ago.  He has been so complimentary of me in interviews and in his book.  So, if he does that with me, I can only imagine how many dear, dear friendships he has.  So, the fact that everybody showed up like that from the president of CBS Entertainment to local councilmen, and that they were willing to do be there for 2 hours was really proof of how much they love him.  Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), who I don’t even think was working that day, came in for it and spoke at the event. There was so much respect shown for Eric and what he has meant to this medium.

Photo: JPI

Your album The Apple Tree was so well-received, and everyone always loves seeing you get the opportunity to sing on General Hospital as well.  Will you continue to put out more music in 2020?

JAMES:  Yeah, that’s the plan.  I have another one that I’m working on.  I have a bunch of songs.  I’m in no rush to get it out.  Unfortunately, I lost Glen Roven, who wrote the cello part for Book of Love, passed away right after the Nurses’ Ball where I played Book of Love, which is really heartbreaking, and then, Michael Sherwood, who helped me with a number of songs on the record passed away right after The Apple Tree came out.  So, I’m a little gun-shy.  But, I’m planning on having something out by December for Christmas.

In closing, what would you say the fans should look forward to in the weeks ahead from Valentin?

JAMES: Look forward to that moment where Valentin is so low that there’s nowhere to go but up!  The comeback is going to be one for the books.

So, what do you think of how Valentin’s life hit rock bottom?  Do you think he will ever win Nina back? Do you think he will takeover ELQ? Share your thoughts on James’ recent performances and his thoughts contained in this interview via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital Delivers Super-Sized Promo: The Truth About Wiley To Be Revealed

This week, General Hospital is going full-tilt set to deliver the moment that fans of the show have been waiting for since back in September 2018, when on one fateful night  …

(Cliff Notes version here) Brad and Lucas’s adopted child dies, Nelle gives birth in the woods with an assist from Liesl. Brad and Nelle comes face to face on the road; the two switch babies and keep the long-held secret that Brad and Lucas are actually raising Nelle and Michael’s bio-son. Meanwhile, Willow thinks she is Wiley’s birth mother, having no idea, that her baby died with Brad.

Julian has been in on the secret, and when Brad finally revealed to Lucas the truth about Wiley, it caused their car to crash (Remember: Kendra who in the other car, who was trying to kill Alexis) which has left Lucas with only fragmented memories of that night.

Realizing everything is getting too close for comfort for the truth to come out; Brad accepts a job in Portland and is moving with Lucas and Wiley, while Nelle is selling her shares of ELQ to Valentin to get out of dodge too, so she can follow them, we think.

But in one of the best promo’s we have ever seen for a daytime drama series, as you see below; will Lucas remember and reveal the truth to Michael?

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From the cast credits at the end of the promo, to the setting up of the tale, this is one promo not to be missed.  Check it out below.

Now, let us know, how you think the truth will come to light that Michael will find out he is Wiley (AKA Jonah) biological father and that their was a baby switch? Will it be as teased in the promo, or some other way? Comment below.

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DAYS Eric Martsolf and Stacy Haiduk chat with Michael Fairman at Day of Days 2019; during their conversation the on-screen dup talk about the latest developments of Brady and Kristen within the series time-jump and more. Leave A Comment

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