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Genie Francis Tweets Heartfelt Message: "I Would Like To Thank All My Wonderful Fans For Their Support."

Courtesy/ABC

\Courtesy/ABCAfter the last 36 hours of outpouring on social media by daytime soap fans and more, soap icon Genie Francis has finally spoken in a brief tweet to all who have rallied around her since the news broke that her contract was not renewed by General Hospital.

The actress who has played Laura on and off since 1977, tweeted: “I would like to thank all my wonderful fans for their support. It has made me feel so much better. ”

Nicolas Bechtel who plays Genie’s on-screen grandson, Spencer Cassadine, tweeted back to her: “Grandmother, you’re all that and a bag of chips. There’s nobody better … #GH”

Meanwhile Robin Strasser  (Ex-Dorian, OLTL) tweeted: “Bad Decision in High Places! #GenieFrancis is a fixture in our hearts-We of a certain age, remember exactly where we were for #LukeAndLaura‘s marriage:) (#OLTL actors stood watching in the make-up room…Cheering for the “I DO”s:)”   To which Genie replied via a tweet: “Also, a very heartfelt thank you to Robin Strasser. I love actresses who support actresses.”

So, what do you think of Genie’s tweets? Are you happy to hear from her via social media? Comment below.

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Patrick
Patrick

“…I love actresses who support actresses.” ”

OF COURSE – this reeks of women in this business being given the shaft for so many other reasons… outside of the size of a mans piece

IN YOUR FACE : Frank Valentini, Maurice Benard, Steve Burton

the writing is on the wall.

if this is all @GH / TPTB / want for this show

cest la vie

Satan
Satan

It’s ridiculous to blame Maurice and Steve for this. Frank’s fucked up priorities were fully on display last Wednesday, when an entire episode was devoted to a dragonshit character with ZERO relevance to the history of General Hospital.

And that character – as far as I know – doesn’t have a penis. So it’s not a gender thing, it’s an agenda thing. And the Valentini agenda, from day one in February 2012 has been obvious to anybody who cared to pay attention…..

Destroy everything good about classic General Hospital and replace it with Zombie OLTL.

Shay
Shay

Thank you, Satan!….(Wow, that sounds strange…..LOL) Even though I would never express the sentiment as starkly as you have, I totally agree that this is not a gender thing. For many of us who have followed Genie’s “Laura” during her various GH tenures and witnessed the repeated struggles with GH to get the love and respect they both deserve, we recognize this travesty for the highly-personal issue that it truly is….she’s experienced this all-too-familiar unfair treatment for decades on end from the ungrateful soap and network to whom she dedicated the best years of her career—-this is simply the latest example, so quite frankly, I find those with a broader political agenda attempting to co-opt her current individual woes as a part of their own campaign both disngenuous and exploitive, to say the least! By all means, I suppport Genie and the groundswell of fans who have come to her defense with their variety of efforts to reverse this unacceptable decision and return her to her rightful place on the Port Charles canvas, but this particular situation has nothing in common with the other more widespread grievances that have made their way into the daily newsfeeds. This brouhaha is all about one beloved actress named Genie Francis and no one else! Let’s not allow those running GH or ABC to forget that!!!!

Patrick
Patrick

Hi… i’m coming from the point of pay disparity…. it’s gnawing at me the post that was said about Sarah Browne.. ex Carly who catapulted GH.. in her own right… WON THREE EMMIES.. and was .. per post was still payed that much less than her male counterparts

I will STAND up and HOLD ON : Steve Burton and Maurice Benard ARE NOT GOOD actors

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

The fact that Michelle is on the canvas also speaks volumes. Friends of Frank, not, Longtime beloved cast of GH.

K/kay
K/kay

A lot of people are supporting her she is going to be great,,,

Steve
Steve

Frank probably never anticipated this PR nightmare. Very likely he’ll have to eat crow and reinstate her contract or have his canceled by ABC.

GH fans should be grateful for Frank taking over when he did in 2012. However, it’s time to move on.

Mo
Mo

If he didn’t anticipate that viewers would be upset, he needs a reality check stat and should be checking into GH for real.

Rodd
Rodd

Totally, agree, Mo. Love Frank, but hate this decision. I watched GH yesterday for the first time since this news broke (I record it) and was sickened, I was so angry. It will be a long, long while before I can watch and not feel anything but anger for what TPTB did to Genie, and in turn, the viewers.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

What kills me is that he refused to speak to her about it. What boss does that? What type of corporation allows someone in management to get away with that? Becky Herbst also said that she had no opportunity to talk to Frank after she learned he wanted to fire her. And yet the man touts the fact that he rehired ME in the grocery store, and that he hired Laura Wright’s boyfriend after running into them in a parking lot! The man seems to make erratic decisions and then acts completely unprofessionally to boot. He needs to go.

Carrie Nauseda
Carrie Nauseda

Gh and Frank need to wake up over there. I dont know what the hell is going on over there. Why are we losing all our GH vets??? Steve, Tyler, Tristan Jt, CW and many others and now Genie??/ Fans want our GH pple not Frank’s pets from OLTL.

nancy dillingham
nancy dillingham

It’s simple: age and sex discrimination with the actors who are over 20. LOL!
And, I guess, money was the motive in Tyler’s case.

Billy
Billy

Happy to hear from her but the news sucks!!! ABC is putting the final nail in the coffin of its soaps. We all know OLTL was the higher rated soap but ABC chose to keep the horrible GH because of brand recognition. The only thing that keeps me watching in Maura West, the Bervelee McKinsey of out modern soaps.I will not watch the Carly & Sonny show anymore.

toscanti
toscanti

I too adore Maura West and each time I watch her in scenes, I think of the late Beverly McKinsey. She’s one of the best in daytime today.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

OLTL was only the higher rated soap after they announced their end date. Wasn’t higher rated before that.

Janice
Janice

My heart goes out to her. Who we really need to hear from is Frank Valentini. He owes us that much

Watching the soaps
Watching the soaps

Bobby “Franco” Frank is still on contract and getting big story during sweeps next month.

What is wrong with this picture GH?

I miss GF. I wanted Laura as mayor.

Roxanne
Roxanne

Feel horrible. Started watching GH in the 70’s in the summer and after school. 57 now. Record it and watch every night. It’s been so wonderful watching Laura with Spencer, Valentine,Kevin, Lulu. The mayor story line was thrilling…and then not. So sad.

Angela
Angela

Genie you’re a better person than me, right now I would be so mad. How could they do that to you or anyone else. I’ve been watching GH since it started some of the actors/actresses I didn’t much like but you are different. You bring so much passion to the show you are a joy to watch. I really wanted to see you and Ned debate for mayor it is a better story line then Michael and Nell.
Wishing you the best in what ever you decide to do. Your fans are behind you 100%.

Randy
Randy

only better things to come,,,all happens for a reason,im glad genie is off the sinking ship they call entertainment,
shes class all the way,,which is what keeps her fans coming back to support her,,,
i wish genie the very best,
and to all her fans and if you truely are a fan please turn off general hospital,,lets teach these ungrateful people at the top a lesson or 2 on ignoring the fans

Trish
Trish

Genie, I have signed every petition, written on every FB page, asked everyone in charge to change their mind and stop this ridiculous decision. You are a treasure at GH. You had a great storyline, a great new husband, a new name (enough with the Spencer anchor) and I was so looking forward to you fighting with Ned politically and being the new mayor. You were going to rise to greatness, character-wise. And then… nothing? Frank and the PTB need to recind this disgrace of a decision and put you back on top where you belong. I thought you signed a 3 year contract? We love you and can’t bear GH without you. Much Love, Trish

Elite Advisors
Elite Advisors

Trish, can you provide us with the petition info? I called the GH fan line but haven’t seen the legit petitions… this is just disgusting. She IS GH! WTH are they thinking?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

They won’t let me put in the links.

One is on SoapHub and is titled “Petition to bring Genie Francis Back” (can be googled)

the other is on Change.org and is titled “Bring Genie back to GH as Contract Character.”

Between the two they are up to about 27,000 signatures so far.

Karen
Karen

I’m very angry. She was onto a roll as Mayor. COME ON! Don’t want to hear that her character was going no where. Or, Her character has come to an end . Having her pop in once in a while. Isnt going to please us. We watched her grow, even go thru a catatonic stage to marry Luke again.. this is so sad. Genie we love you!

Joel
Joel

It’s certainly nice to hear from Genie, but we can’t let it stop there! The ABC Daytime brass and Frank Valentini need to hear our constant support for Genie and our outrage on a very bad decision until that decision is reversed. It happened for Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) several years ago, and it also happened for Robin Mattson when she played Janet on AMC. Keep tweeting and e-mailing your outrage, make phone calls, whatever it takes! Genie Francis as Laura is the heart and soul of GH, and I thought they finally figured that out when Genie was given a 3 year contract in 2015. Never did I think they’d not renew it, especially when Laura and Kevin just got married, and Laura was running for mayor! What were they thinking? Frank never would’ve done this to Erika Slezak, the heart and soul of OLTL! Give Genie back her contract!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

I posted the petitions (the two that I know of) a couple of posts above this one. Check it out and add your signature!

Lana Jones-Edwards
Lana Jones-Edwards

This is a huge mistake. They just started a story line with Laura running for mayor. I thought that was so perfect! Big umbrella story with history and consequences. This is a big fail for GH. Boo. Not sure that I will keep watching. DOOL is on fire. Just saying.

Linda Recore
Linda Recore

what a mistake taking her off of the program wake up people
stop bringing back the old and create new adventures for the best that you have
Jason is so boring I for one do not like him taking over Billy Millers spot getting to the point I don’t even want to watch anymore

Buddy Lee Brown
Buddy Lee Brown

Of course, she is a total kind, beautiful, classy Lady, as always…

Richard Thurston
Richard Thurston

Genie Francis is by far the BEST actress on daytime , I have watched her on GH since 1981 and all her appearances since. Big mistake of TPTB of GH. Wish you the best Genie!!

nancy dillingham
nancy dillingham

Makes me cry at her courage under pressure and her legendary composure. I’m just so sad. Genie, does this mean you are no longer a part of GH? I just don’t want to believe that. 🙁

Michael (not Fairman)
Michael (not Fairman)

I sure hope the brass at ABC think it was worth the bad press and bad will that they have generated with this decision. Most people would have known this was a bad idea (and not done it); what on earth is wrong with TPTB at ABC? Hard to believe people that stupid could be given responsibility for supervising a lemonade stand, much less a long-running program on a big TV network.

Kudos and more kudos to Ms. Strasser for chiming in. She’s tops in my book.

heidi
heidi

YES! She’s fabulous! So want her back as a key character on GH ASAP!

CLAUDIA
CLAUDIA

Keep Genie at General #makeherthemayor #welovekevinandlaura

Mo
Mo

I’m sure she’s heartbroken. She’s given a lot to GH and to be treated like this is not right. I don’t watch GH, but as a viewer of other soaps, I want to see the vets on screen and in story. They can still drive great story and they have a lot of legacy to draw from.

Nikki
Nikki

Unfortunately, this is not the first time. Genie has been disrespected many times over the years while they cater to her male co-stars, many of which are not as talented. She usually goes quietly, but I really wish she’d speak up. #TimesUp!

Fran Vitale
Fran Vitale

Poor decision. I think GH is writing for its demise. You will be missed Genie Francis.

Leslie Baggett
Leslie Baggett

I’m glad to hear she knows what and how we feel about her. The writers have lost their minds making such a bad decision. There are far more actors on this show they could have cut to leave her in place. Shame shame shame on you!!!

Nikki
Nikki

Genie is a class act! No word from TPTB except for FV’s unfortunate and insensitive tweet yesterday?!. I hope they get a clue before they ruin our beloved GH!

Andrew Hass
Andrew Hass

I like that it seems that Genie Francis is trying to take the high road.Plus since this isn’t the first time she has left GH over the years maybe Genie Francis doesn’t want to burn any bridges because she may know there’s always the chance she could return to GH again.

Kathy Simmons
Kathy Simmons

You are like the light that shines above all the others, and this is a sad day and a step backwards for women of any age!

Shelley Dinner
Shelley Dinner

Even after the complaints & petitions,nothing will change.Genie will still be fired& not reinstated.The higher ups don’t care what the viewers think; their mind is on the budget.

Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

Thank you Genie Francis for sharing your tremendous talent with us fans and for always being a lady of class and dignity. You have always deserved much better from this employer.

Robin Strasser hit the nail on the head. “Bad Decision in High Places!” There have been a lot of those since the mouse company took over the alphabet network.

dmr
dmr

I was watching a classic episode from the early 80’s when Genie reprised her role as Laura, and “Think of Laura” was being played in the background during the episode. That is when daytime television was enjoyable and “can’t miss.” Valentini is void of tradition and respect. When I look at the roster of actors and the on-slaught of new and recurring characters with no legacy to Port Charles, it’s just so pointless to let Genie go-and in the middle of her storyline.

MaryAnn Barone
MaryAnn Barone

We will not stop till Genie returns as Laura! What the hell is Frank trying to do to GH. You can push your fans just so far. For those of you who watched GH from the beginning,It was Luke and Laura that brought back GH. To disrespect such a fine actress is a shame. Frank you have so much dead wood on the show right now that no more cares about. Amy, storyline dead and buried, Nelle whom everyone loathes, to name a few.

Barbara Parker
Barbara Parker

This is so disgraceful. It’s not like there was no storyline for her. I wanted hundred her to be mayor. I am so heartsick I signed whatever petitions I could. I can’t believe what a stupid decision that GH is making! Not only is she a memory from the past but her current acting is terrific. Besides she is still magnificently beautiful. I really I really don’t know what to say anymore. You need to change your minds and reinstate her. I love you Genie. Just know we all love you.

Karen LaRue
Karen LaRue

Genie was really sad to see your leaving GH you had such a great story line. Wishing you great happiness, hope to see you back soon so much more of your families stories need to be finished, fan forever

su0000
su0000

OK–
Which soap reporter will break the story of the actual reason of Genies Sudden departure from GH ..
Stay tuned, folks ..

Satan
Satan

Yeah, and you said that Frodd & Drew were twin brothers.

Stop reading the fan fiction sites. There’s no secret hidden agenda here… just the obvious agenda of destroying General Hospital, which has been ongoing since February 2012.

Anne
Anne

The best thing about Genie’s acting is that it is based on telling the story and revealing the character. Gen Hosp needed to use Genie much much more not less.

In contrast, the over-use of Maura West seems designed just to showcase how much she can chew the scenery and over-emote in acting out a vile character that shows so little redemption and no development. Ava is not even a good villain anymore.

Sad for Gen Hosp.

Shay
Shay

I agree, Anne! If you look at most of the females who consistently have front burner status on GH, it’s always all about them with as many ridiculous scene-stealing antics and hideous over-acting efforts that they can muster….the storylines are secondary, they are merely the means to repeatedly forcefeed these same three or four actresses to the audience. None of their obnoxious, trashy characters can compare to Genie’s beloved Laura, who she skillfully portrays with a natural grace and subtlety that speaks for itself, yet we are constantly subjected to these all-too-familiar femmes of a certain age who obviously curry favor with the show-runners above all others. (And for the record, I don’t place Finola Hughes in that category….her Anna is much like Genie’s Laura in that whilst she always delivers the goods, it’s done in a most exquisitely understated fashion…she is sheer perfection!)

Harry
Harry

Well, Shay you know I couldn’t agree with you more on this subject. I have friends who are actors and they will tell you that it’s the subtle scenes which are harder to play then the over-the-top dramatic scenes. Mugging it up in a fit of histrionics is way easier than playing something subtle like self-consciousness or that deep inner sadness for which we cannot put into words due to the limitations of language. Genie was always able to play those quiet moments and for that, I think she’s underrated.

Phyllis Fontaine DeMarco
Phyllis Fontaine DeMarco

Shay, I love Genie, but I have not enjoyed what she has been given with her return at all. I know many love her and Kevin-I did not. They have turned her into mama bear/granny/scenery. Ruth Martin or Kate Martin- loved both, but they don’t put mama bears on contract anymore. Plus, she is too young to be relegated to granny-in my opinion. I was over the top furious when I first heard of this but when Genie thanked actresses who support actresses-she was silent on Rebecca Budig- don’t remember a word from her when it happened to Monica and Bobbie- or any other GH actors that have been fired and not offered recurring. None of them really ever say anything when another is fired -out of fear for their own jobs, I would think. She left Gh of her own volition a few times- Monica and Bobbie never did. They took the recurring and I think she should have as well- she could have then looked for another job or fought for better story- I know she is soap royalty and all her history but these days that does not seem to count for much on the soaps.

Terri Skarzynski
Terri Skarzynski

There are no words as to how disrespectful this has been to Ms. Francis and her fans. She is the heart and soul of GH. The fact that she has been dropped to recurring is most probably because of money and the return of “Jason”. I would have to say it is nice to see him on our screens again but it is a delight everytime “Laura” is given juicy material. I love all the characters on the show and as a former OLTL fan, I am delighted to have ME and RH on my screen. I feel bad that folks are picking on actors that have nothing to do with this decision. This seems to be Frank V.’s decision and while I am grateful for all that he does to keep GH afloat it is time to truly appreciate the amazing actresses that are a part of this show. I love the Kevin and Laura pairing that are magic! This is sad sad sad.

su0000
su0000

hi Terri Skarzynski ..
I have not seen anyone being disrespectful towards Genie, no one.
She was treated as all other’s before her that was put on recurring.
Genie was not disrespected she was simply put on recurring.

Harry
Harry

Suoo, I do disagree. Why do the new actors who play Jordan, Kim and that new guy (Laura Wright’s boyfriend, don’t know his name) all have contracts?
To me, being put on re-occurring status is an insult to Genie and her fans alike.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

You don’t find it disrespectful that she found out she was fired on the day she shot the scenes about withdrawing from the mayoral race, then asked to see Frank and he said he had no time to meet with her? That says a lot….

And recurring with a guarantee for one episode per month, yeah, that is being fired. By any and every stretch of the imagination.

gregg
gregg

What a terrible decision!! Laura is the heart of GH. Her character saved the show from cancellation back in 1978. She is the reason GH is still on the air and that Valentini still hsa a job!

What was Mr. Valentini thinking when he made that insensitive tweet about Laura’s announcement?

Was Maurice Benard’s tweet about air time vs episodes aimed at Genie and her fans. How would he have felt if his contract wasn’t renewed but told he could go on recurring and do about a dozen eps. a year?

Good for Robin Strasser for supporting Genie. Too bad none of her fellow GH actresses are following suit. I guess they are afraid for their jobs?

dmr
dmr

Exactly. What kind of lucrative, valuable storyline can one have when airing in maybe a dozen episodes a year? That’s Tuesday and Wednesday filler for when Laura would go visit the insipid Lulu or Elizabeth. She would be another Bobbie or Felicia-with no real character focus or story, just there to prop up her annoying kid!

K/kay
K/kay

She will do just fine she has a great family it will be fine I have no idea why they dropped her but obviously they do let it go I love her respect her but she will be fine

K/kay
K/kay

Vanessa Marcia and Sarah joy brown have both come out with less then half pay then the cue card reader and the blank stare guy

Allen Saint James
Allen Saint James

we should all make a big stink about this. It’s disrespectful to not Only Genie, The History of Th, The character of Laura but the longtime fans. Anthony Geary had his ass kissed for years while she was locked out. The Laura character is integral to the show and moreso than any other character on the canvas. #timesup #shameful

Jacob
Jacob

I am on vacation but as soon as I’m home on Friday, I will be making a call. This is not OK. Frank Valentini must go. Genie Francis must stay.

Mary
Mary

Genie Francis is as always a class act! Frank Valentini, on the other hand, should never have been allowed to make this decision. The only reason I will continue to watch GH is Maura West and only the episodes that feature her. I don’t care about Sonny, Carly, Cesar Faison, Drew, Sam, Jason or any of that lot. Genie and Maura are the only reasons I watched GH.

Max Daddee
Max Daddee

Totally disgusted by this news. It’s an insult to GH fans and Genie. Very, very poor decision. I can’t support this show anymore by watching it. I’m totally disgusted by this.

Jacob
Jacob

I stopped watching this show when it became the Sonny and Carly Show and I stopped again when Ron favored Sonny and Carly over everyone else. If frank is too stupid to see the story potential for Laura as Mayor, then I guess it’s time to stop again. It’s so dumb. Just two weeks ago I was excited by this show for the first time in years… and now this. It really is like they are trying to kill the show. Frank Valentini seems like a miserable person. How do we get him fired?

dante williams
dante williams

This is not just any actress nor does she play just any character. BOTH are the CENTER of the GH universe!!! There is no character, male or female that connects to just about everyone on the canvas and commands the respect that Laura does, and the show looks, feels and smells incomplete when she’s not there. Karma can be a real b#tch though, and I trust and hope the universe/God balances the scales anywhere and everywhere that she and others on GH were treated unfairly. Frank Valentini is at the top of the list. I don’t trust anyone who hires actors in the parking lot.

Carla
Carla

Well Genie Francis fans we have not heard from ABC studios or Frank Valentini to get Genie back to General Hospital full time and show her respect. We need to show them that we are not going to sit back and do nothing. We have to STOP watching GH and bring the ratings down. If ratings do not plumage they will say that Genie was not worth keeping. I for one have not watched GH since I read about Genie being put on recurring. I’ve read on various soap sites that there is a lot happening on GH but this cannot stop from proving our point that fans mean business and we should be listened too! STOP WATCHING IMMEDIATELY and lets make it clear they made a huge mistake and need to fix it!!

Breaking News

Brandon Barash Replaces Tyler Christopher At DAYS

According to reports from Soap Opera Digest and Daytime Confidential, former General Hospital favorite Brandon Barash has temporarily replaced Tyler Christopher, in the role of Stefan DiMera at Days of our Lives.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Brandon played mobster Johnny Zacchara on GH from 2007-2016.

Because DAYS tapes well in advance; look for Barash to hit the air sometime in early 2019.

What are your thoughts on Brandon as temp replacement for Tyler as Stefan O? Comment below.

Continue Reading

Breaking News

GH’s Maurice Benard Takes On Role Of John Gotti In Upcoming Lifetime Movie

Who better to use their mobster experience playing the iconic role of Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital, and put it to good use, when taking on the role of a real-life mobster than Daytime Emmy winner, Maurice Benard?

As revealed over the past weekend, Maurice Benard is hard at work filming a Lifetime Movie based on the life of Victoria Gotti called “The Victoria Gotti Story”.

Sharing the news via his social media, Benard expressed: “Thank you lifetime and everyone involved 4 a Beautiful opportunity.”

Recently, John Travolta played the notorious New York mobster in the movie Gotti released earlier this year.

The infamous Gotti, had a wife and a daughter both named Victoria.  So as to which point of view the film is focusing on is yet to be released.

So what do you think of the casting of Maurice as John Gotti? Intrigued to see the Lifetime Movie when it debuts? Comment below

Continue Reading

General Hospital

General Hospital’s Max Gail Opens Up On Portraying Mike’s Battle With Alzheimer’s & Making A Difference In People’s Lives

“What happens the day I wake up, and you guys are the strangers,” says Mike to his son, Sonny and his wife Carly (Laura Wright). “I left you before to my everlasting regret, but it’s going to happen. I’d do anything if I didn’t have to do it again, but it’s going to happen – one way or the other.  At least this way I could leave some good feelings, instead of disappearing before your eyes.”  Those words were said during a gut-wrenching scene on Friday’s episode of General Hospital, as Mike tries to come to terms with his deteriorating mental state in his battle with Alzheimer’s, and the hard realization that he may be better off in a care facility, instead of at his son’s home.  These scenes, as all the scenes in this storyline, have been exquisitely played by Max Gail (Mike) and Maurice Benard (Sonny).

When Max Gail arrived on the GH canvas as the recast Mike Corbin in a role made soap-famous by Ron Hale, viewers did not know what to initially expect.  What they did know was that Max is an accomplished actor with a body of work from primetime dramas and comedies, film, and the stage, and that if he is coming to GH, he must be coming on board for something major.  Before GH, suffice to say, Gail is most remembered for his role as “Wojo” on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller that aired from 1975-1982.

In story on GH, Mike, who abandoned Sonny as a child, once again re-enters his son’s life, but soon we learn that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and that the soap is tackling a story that is an important medical, social, and familial issue of our time.

Gail has been a revelation in this role.  A clear frontrunner for an Emmy, playing the facets, the levels, the characteristics, and the heartbreak of a person who is slowly losing everything they know near and dear to them, as in the end they are ultimately stripped of their dignity from this most horrific of diseases.

On a personal note, and as part of this conversation with Max, it was important for him and for me to share, that I lost my mother at the end of April of this year to Alzheimer’s.  So his work hits close to home, this story hits close to home, as it has also resonated for many viewers who have shared their stories on social media and when Max makes personal appearances.

Here now is this very special interview for Michael Fairman TV with an actor whom we can all agree is touching all of our lives.

You’re portraying a person suffering from Alzheimer’s and play the progression of the disease.  Do you feel pressure as an actor to get it right for those who have loved ones, or person’s afflicted with it?

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  It’s more like an urge, or a calling to find some kind of truth in it that I can connect with.  One of the things I’m inclined towards showing is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia often just drifts off somewhere else.  “Where am I going?”  This has happened to me many times in life.  For instance, when I was a youngster, I can remember getting in my car, and I’d driven a long way from some party or something like that, and I’d been drinking, and I didn’t remember it.  I knew I’d gotten home somehow.  So, it’s not out of my realm.  I’ve learned that there are no set behaviors really… other than that it usually ends up being really difficult for caretakers, and seemingly really painful for many, if not most people suffering with Alzheimer’s, and losing connection and losing the ability to just function.  We are kind of on the cusp of that in story at GH.  I think it was originally proposed that I would play the part for just a few months, and to give me an out if it wasn’t working.  Maybe, there was a placeholder idea to ship Mike off to a home or something, but the storyline has touched so many people that it has been continuing.

The story has been so effective.  You’ve done such an amazing job, and the fans love Mike and what you’re doing with the character, and they’re on board on this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how far they will take this with Mike.  Will we actually see him not being able to communicate anymore?  How far will the writers go to show the horrific aspects of Alzheimer’s? 

MAX:  I’m not sure.  You know, I’ve had times where I’ve got the scene, I get the writers, and I get the heart of it.  Other times, I find where that transition is from where Mike is lucid and clear, and other times what that state of mind is and that switch is, and what that is in behaviors and energy level.  I think there’s an ongoing downturn for Mike, and for me as an actor finding something in the moment and finding how it works with things that he does remember.  They’re trying to find a place for Mike within all of the interwoven drama of General Hospital.  I, frankly, had no idea how complex the range of storylines was.  Mike doesn’t really have control over his story.  I don’t want that as an actor.  Mike has some intentions that are really important to him.  I’m trying to find that balance where there are times when he has a pathetic, very sad remorse about what he has missed.  I think that underlies his feelings for his son, who he never could quite reach, because of his own failings as a father.  Sonny’s formative experiences growing up were then with his abusive stepdad.  Finding all of that is really important to do in a way that doesn’t make Mike just this sweet older man with Alzheimer’s.   It’s a wonderful challenge to be presented with.

Courtesy/CBS

You brought up that Mike is seemingly very sweet in his demeanor now.  My mother, who I shared with you died a few months ago from Alzheimer’s was a strong-willed, feisty woman.  As the disease took hold of her, she became very sweet.   She became almost childlike.  The fire had gone out of her eyes.  You knew she didn’t know who you were, and so, all of that, as you know is so tough to witness as her son.  In terms of Mike and his ultimate care, everyone says they love him and want what is best for him, but that he needs to be taken care of because he gets confused, doesn’t know where he is sometimes. etc.  Sonny has been grappling with putting him in a care facility to be looked after, or to keep him with the Corinthos family under their roof.  However, Mike has come to a realization that he may need to be in facility all on his own, and doesn’t want to burden his son by living with him anymore.  That was a poignant moment, and another one of the best scenes has been when Mike couldn’t remember that Sonny was his own son. 

MAX:  Right and he doesn’t know if he’s around friends or around enemies.  This can be true of Alzheimer’s patients.

I had that happen with my mother when she came out to Los Angeles to see me for the last time.  She was out of her element, she was confused, and she broke down and cried in the hotel room.  She asked my father, “Why did you bring me here?” and he told her, “We came to see our son.”  It was heartbreaking.   Later, she had a moment of clarity and realized more of what was going on.  I think it’s those in-and -out moments that you portray so well on-screen.  I feel that they are very realistic to what I, and others, have experienced.

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  I appreciate that and sharing that with me, because you never know as an actor.  That place of “Where am I?  What is this?” makes me think of that “Summer Wind” moment from the Nurses’ Ball when it wasn’t just, “I’m embarrassed.  I don’t remember the words.”  It was, “I don’t know where the f**k I am.  I thought there was a band there, but there’s not.”  So, in a way, I just had to be there on this big soundstage and just feel this big space around me.  I could barely see that there were people out there.  It’s kind of a terrifying thing to a lot of people, but I think Mike has something in him that makes him want to be okay with all of this.  He doesn’t have to freak out and get accusatory.

Courtesy/ABC

What has it been like working with Maurice Benard as your on-screen son?  Do you watch back your scenes together and ever go, “Oh, that was great!?”

MAX:  Yes, there have been a lot of those!  There are some scenes that are so emotionally focused, and we get a lot of delight in each other.  He has been playing this character in this situation for so long, so it’s just kind of in him.  Maurice has presence.  I think when I went in to read for the part of Mike, I had gone through pilot season and had gone in for some interesting pilots.  I didn’t feel like I was really connecting in the readings, because most things are by tape these days, anyway.  When this part came up, a soap hadn’t really been on my radar.  I knew I’d be going in to read with the actor, so I said, “Okay,” and I looked at the material, and then I checked out Maurice on IMDB.  One of the things that got my interest was that he has been diagnosed and takes medication to deal with bipolar disorder, and that’s become a part of his life, and it’s become part of his character.  I thought, “Wow, that’s really interesting.  This is a survivor, and he’s risen to something that takes a certain kind of balance and courage.”  I watched some clips, and when I went in for the reading of this kind of an amalgamation scene of what the story elements were going to be, I felt like we connected before we’d even started the dialogue.

Well, Maurice certainly loves working with you! He has been very supportive and vocal about that.

MAX:  It’s mutual.  We can take really little simple moments, and we can find something deeper in it, and it doesn’t have to be an, ‘I’m going to start crying now’ moment.  Although, I would love for Mike to have a moment of self-observation where he goes, “Gee.  I cry a lot more than I used to.”  I think there are people who are like that, and it’s okay for certain people to cry, and for other people it is not.

Courtesy/ABC

There was a part of my mom that knew something was wrong.  She’d go, “Why am I crying?  I don’t know why I’m crying.”  She got confused as to why she was feeling that.  She couldn’t connect it all, and at times she kept saying, “I don’t understand.  I don’t understand.”  Those were the things she would try to express.

MAX:  I have a feeling that Mike has those moments too, but he finds a way for it to be okay.  There may be a point where someone with Alzheimer’s can’t pull it off anymore, but how we find those and those specifics, I don’t know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Working on a classic sitcom such as Barney Miller is vastly different than working on a daytime soap opera.  While now being at GH, have you found any commonality within the experience?

MAX:  If I can take a moment and reflect on Barney Miller, because it was a great experience and one that I found was not so easy to find again over the years.  One of the things that really resonates is that when we started shooting the studio audience laughed too easily.  We would end up retaking the scenes.  Sometimes, we didn’t have the end of the show written, because they tended to let certain things start to show up in the earlier parts of the script.  Danny Arnold who was the writer, creator and producer of Barney Miller would always take over the way Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) does in a way … looking to be respectful of the director, but still seeing things on his own.  Frank has a really wonderful eye.  He’s much more connected into the overall storylines, the motivations that went into the writing, and what he sees in the moment.  I always welcome him on the set because the directors, who have a range of talents and sensibilities, are tasked with coming up with a whole lot of shots to cover, a whole lot of tricky angles, and all of that.

Courtesy/ABC

Vernee Watson has been amazing as Stella, who is also Mike’s social worker.  Does Mike have romantic feelings toward Stella?

MAX:  Vernee is wonderful.  I didn’t know Vernee had been on the show when I came on board.  She won an Emmy, and I’m not surprised.   She is so present and so specific, and she’s very bright and gets what all of these elements are, and so, I think they have a connection.  For whatever ways Mike has lived in his like, there isn’t some strange, exotic draw that she is black, and Mike is white.  I like that because both my first and late wife, and my second wife, with whom I’ve had children (and we’ve been separated for awhile, but have a great relationship) are African-American.  So, in my world that is not a big deal.   I think there’s an affinity there between Mike and Stella.  You know, he’s alive.  He’s old, but he’s not dead.  There’s an ease with women he likes.  I think there are a whole lot of reasons for them to not get involved.  One is just professional, and she’s a social worker.  We just shot something where I say something to somebody else about, “back when I still had all my marbles,” you know, he’s in another stage of life, which many people go into gracefully, while many don’t.

 

What do you think about how Mike knows about who was buried at Charlie’s Pub?  He was trying to keep the truth about Charlie Delaney from coming out, which turned into a gas leak that blew up the bar!  This storyline ties in to Sonny’s mobster dealings as well.

MAX:  Well, this is where they put this effort in the storytelling to connect Mike in some way and be intertwined with Sonny.  Of course, it reveals certain things about Mike that he’s never revealed to anybody before.  So, that’s kind of cool.  I think when he knows what and how much sometimes is not clear.  That’s why I started talking about Barney Miller because the other thing was a lot of times when we go together for the table reads, they didn’t have the end of the story.  They had a first draft, maybe. Dan would talk about it, and they’d say, “Next week, the main story is going to be this man in his fifties who is coming to terms with the fact that he is gay,” or whatever those underlying themes may be with the different characters reactions.  So, we knew elements going into it and that sometimes I  didn’t know what the writers are really intending.  In terms of Mike, he’s kind of back and forth in certain moments.  I have to resist the idea that they trap me by just being careless.  I’ve learned that just trying to fix the script often gets you into a place where you “rehearse yourself out of it,” as they say.

Courtesy/GoodDayLA

You appeared on the morning show Good Day LA  a few months back with Laura Wright (Carly), and Maria Shriver, who has founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.  What was that like meeting Maria, and helping get the word out about the effects of this disease and the work Maria is doing?

MAX:  It was great to do.  Maria had sent out a tweet that is was wonderful what was going on, on General Hospital.  On Good Day LA, she talked about her work, particularly focusing on the fact that more women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men.  So, then Laura and I sat down and did an interview alongside Maria.  We actually had a nice conversation before.  They did a web interview also as a follow-up.  That was very cool, because Maria is very smart, and I’d never met her, but it was great to see what she was doing.  Whatever we are dealing with in the show is sort of my opportunity in the real world to bring awareness and shed light on the subject.  I’d love to see an ongoing conversation online amongst people who can share their stories with each other.  That’s a lot of what they’re doing.  They’re raising money for research, but people need to be able to talk to each other when you’re a caregiver.  Coming out of the early sixties and early seventies when I was playing a cop on TV, I never was a fanatic activist.  I certainly got the behavior of the Chicago police at a certain time in terms of the energy and conflicts of the time.  There was something to think about, but at the same time, I had opportunities to kind of share that all cops aren’t bad, just look at the show, Barney Miller.

Courtesy/ABC

You were my favorite character on Barney Miller as Detective Wojciehowicz!  I think for many who watched the show you were, too!

MAX:  I think “Wojo” ended up being the heart of the show.

Max, you’re helping people through your beautiful performances including me.  Congratulations on that.   I’ll continue have to have a box of Kleenex handy as I watch how it all unfolds for Mike.

Photo: IMDB

MAX:  Well, I really appreciate your questions.  I’m just planting that seed.  That is really what I would like to do after talking to you and so many people.  That’s something I’d like to put out there.   We each have our own domains and responsibilities and all of it overlaps, and you can kind of get in touch with that; if you just go around the circle and share it, and then go around again.  I’m looking to help people out there in the world who are watching and are looking to share in the conversation.

So, what did you think about the heartbreaking scenes on Friday’s episode of GH between Mike and Sonny?  What have you thought of Max Gail’s performance throughout his GH run?  Have you experienced the loss, or are watching someone you love, or care about slip away from Alzheimer’s?  Share your thoughts via the comment below.

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Video du Jour

This weekend we mourn the loss of General Hospital’s beloved Susan Brown who played Gail Baldwin. Here is her final scene from 2004 when Gail and her husband Lee (the late Peter Hansen) showed up at Lila’s funeral and had an exchange with Alan and Monica. Share your thoughts on Susan’s passing via the link below. Leave A Comment

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