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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!”

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)

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
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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
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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… Read more »

Cakelover20
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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… Read more »

Faye
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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… Read more »

Elena
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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
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Christina

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

I completely agree with Cakelover20 about everything.

Doe
Guest
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… Read more »

Katie
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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… Read more »

Ava
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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… Read more »

Leigh
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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
Guest
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
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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… Read more »

Michelle
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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… Read more »

Tonya
Guest
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… Read more »

Adriana
Guest
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.

Breaking News

DAYS and GH Director Joe Behar Passes Away at 94

Joseph Behar was heavyweight director in daytime drama having worked on both Days of our Lives and General Hospital and now comes word of his passing. Behar passed away on June 26th at the age of 94.

According to his obit, he died at his home in Manhattan Beach, California.

Joe spent the the bulk of his career directing Days of Our Lives and General Hospital.  He actually directed the pilot episode of General Hospital back in 1963, then came back the ABC daytime drama series 30 years later to direct it for more than 10 more years,.

Along the way, he won 5 Daytime Emmys for his work on GH, and had won six overall throughout his career. He continued directing until his retirement back in 2005.

Behar’s career started on the Ernie Kovacs Show and he also directed Let’s Make a Deal. and more.

Photo: JPI

He is survived by his wife, Carolyn and his sons, Jeffrey, Steven and Greg Behar and his grandchildren, Alex, Mallory, Niko and Lydia.

Watch an interview with Joe via the TV Academy on his career including working with Frances Reid (Ex-Alice, DAYS), the pace of directing in daytime and more below.

Share your remembrances and condolences for Joe and his family in the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH’s James Patrick Stuart Releases His New Album ‘Clean Slate’

On Thursday, the highly-anticipated nine song set from General Hospital’s James Patrick Stuart (Valentin Cassadine) dropped  on Apple Music

The album entitled “Clean Slate” features the tracks: “Look Out Below”,  “My Funny Friend”, “Can U Feel Me?”, “World of Good”, “Don’t Tell Me”, “I Burn For You”, “Always Love You”, “Another Time”, and “My One and Only Love”.

Photo: japastuTwitter

Fans of General Hospital, always love when James performs at the Nurses Ball’ but now here, Stuart delivers several original songs with his unique vocal style that make it unmistakable JPS.

Check out a preview of the album below.

Now, let us know if you will be adding “Clean Slate” to your playlists and more via the comment section below.

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General Hospital

GENERAL HOSPITAL: Austin Reveals His True Identity

Leave it to many GH fans who guessed right as to just who Roger Howarth’s new character of Austin will turn out to be!  On Tuesday’s episode of the ABC daytime drama series, we learned the last name of the character who is related to the Quartermaine’s.

For weeks, Austin has seemed to be fixated on Michael Corinthos (Chad Duell) and the Q’s and now with this cliffhanger of a reveal we know why.

At a key family business meeting at the Q’s, Scott (Kin Shriner) who now seems in cahoots with Austin for a piece of the Quartermaine pie, brings Austin to the gathering.

 

When Austin arrives, Brook Lynn (Amanda Setton) looks none-to-pleased!  She clearly knows the guy.  When Michael struts up to Austin asking who he is and what is he doing here … Austin introduced himself as Austin Gaitlin-Holt.  Michael and everyone else look a bit perplexed as we fade to black.

However, GH history buffs know that Jimmy Lee Holt was the son of Edward Quartermaine and his mistress Beatrice LeSuer.  Jimmy Lee did some pretty reprehensible things while he was in Port Charles.  When he left he married Charity Gaitlin.  Upon the death of Edward Q. back in 2012, Jimmy Lee was left out of his inheritance.  Therein must lie some of the story…. and now Roger Howarth fans eagerly await to see how this new doctor in town and Quartermaine turns out to be.  Will he be a bad boy, or a misunderstood good guy?  We shall see.

So, what did you think of Austin being revealed to be Austin Gaitlin-Holt? Share your thoughts in the comment section, and also cast your vote in our poll on Roger’s new character below.

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Video du Jour

GH’s Kelly Thiebaud (Britt) chats with Michael Fairman about Britt being on the run with Jason, their burgeoning romance, working with Steve Burton and her other co-star and Britt’s diagnosis of Huntington’s Disease. .Leave A Comment

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