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GHFCW: What Did…Burton, Wright, Zamprogna & castmates say?

Courtesy/Jim Warren

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

The mobsters, cops, doctors, nurses, fashionistas, computer geeks, and more of Port Charles’s finest, gathered together when the actors, whose characters you love to love (or love to hate) from the number one ABC sudser, General Hospital, showed up en masse last weekend to meet and greet and say thank you to their loyal fans at the GH Fan Club Weekend 2010.  The gathering put on every year by Fan Club President extraordinaire, Debbie Morris, and her team did not disappoint.  And, while the usual suspects like Maurice Benard (Sonny) and Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) were not in attendance at the GH Fan Club Luncheon Q&A, they were at their own individual events.  And, Maurice did appear later in the afternoon to sign autographs following the Q&A.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I caught up with several of the stars just before they greeted the throngs at the Saturday Main Event in the Green Room.  Our pal Dominic Zamprogna (Dante), who if you have not heard, did a phenomenal job co-hosting the latest episode of the On-Air On-Soaps Podcast with me with his cast mate, Carolyn Hennesy (Diane), dished about Jason and Dante’s new found relationship due to their connection to Franco and Michael.  Zamprogna said in reference to Jason,” Dante does not like him, but I think he needs him.  It was funny because the day he pushes me up against the garbage, someone went “Oh, Dante was Jason’s bitch,” or something like that.  Someone said that to me on a facebook message.  I went, “Really? No. No. No”.  That is a guy who is really pissed off about something. (Laughs) But Dante is just trying to do damage control.  I mean what is he suppose to do?  Reach for his gun and threaten him back?  I mean, that is not really the big picture at this point.  I think you are going to see Jason and Dante have a mutual kind of respect for each other, and I think they do have a healthy respect for each other, because they are both good at what they do.  I think it’s going to happen again.  But at the same time, he does not trust him as far as he can throw him.  They are not ‘hang out buddies’.  It resembles to me the guys from the original Lethal Weapon, where Jason is kind of the crazy one, and Dante is kind of the stable one, and as long as they have respect for each other… they don’t have to work with each other.”   As we were chatting… in walked Jonathan Jackson (Lucky).  So I turned to Dominic to ask him what he thought of JJ.  “I love working with Jonathan Jackson,” Dom said.  “He is one of the greatest friggin people there ever was, and he is a fantastic actor.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Having just come off of not winning the Supporting Actor prize at the Daytime Emmys, I asked JJ about his Vegas Emmy experience.  “I honestly did not have high expectations, because with that nomination reel I had only been back for three months.  I was just excited to be nominated and be there.  Of course, you always would love to win and everything, but it wasn’t that much of a disappointment.  It was just fun to be there.  It was a little weird, though.  I am not a huge Vegas fan in general, but my wife, Lisa, and I got to see Phantom of the Opera, which was amazing.”  Now what of the reports that Lucky will become more Luke-like?  Jonathan says it is in the works.  “Yes, I think there is something coming up. I am hoping that is where they go with it. Lucky has been doing a lot of that straight cop stuff.  I think if we can show the wild side of him that resembles Luke that will be nice.”   Jackson also detailed that he hopes soon that Lucky will find out MIA baby, Aiden, is really his. “I wish I knew all that was coming up for Lucky.  I am just curious to know when he will find out Aiden is his child.  But I honestly don’t know when that will be.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Lisa LoCicero’s alter-ego of Olivia, certainly has dabbled with several leading men in Port Charles.  So are Olivia and Sonny put on hold indefinitely?  “I would say it’s not going to happen between Olivia and Sonny anytime soon.  I would say Sonny is going to be pretty busy in the upcoming year, with Sonny and Brenda, etc.”  My thoughts exactly Lisa!  So where does this leave her? “There are still a lot of good looking men in Port Charles!  There is Ingo Rademacher who is very, very handsome.  Every woman wants Jax, but it’s not Jax that they want, it’s Ingo. (Laughs) Olivia and Johnny might not be completely over.  There might be a little something between Olivia and Steven.  I am always railing against the mob, and Scott Reeves’ character is certainly not in the mob. But I mean, aren’t all my men gorgeous? (Laughs) You know in real life I am a smarty chaser.  I like funny, nerdy and intellectual.”  Well, OK.  So intellectual could partially fit the bill for Dr. Steven Webber played by Scott Reeves, and as fans are beginning to see, something is simmering between the good doc and the lady from Bensonhurst!  “Yes, it would be an interesting pairing.  Some of them take lives and he gives lives. There is something poetic in that.  He is not shooting their bodies…. he is pulling bullets out of their chests.”   And what of Johnny Zacchara, played by Brandon Barash?  “I think if I had to guess, there was a longer detour with Johnny then was initially planned, because the fans responded to that so much that they did not want to wreck it.  It was supposed to be a one-night stand that did not go anywhere, but people went for it.  So it slowed that whole thing down with Sonny.  And then, we were waiting for Dante to come and to find the right Dante, which we did.  So certain events had an effect on Olivia’s story.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

So what does Scott Reeves think of a Steven/Olivia romance?  “The extent of our working together is when she fell into my arms in the hospital.  I don’t know if it was she was falling for me. (Laughs) I was intrigued, because I did not want her to kick my butt, because Olivia is a butt-kicker, but I am excited to work with Lisa.  That would open the door to completely another side of life for Steven, the mob side.”  Brandon Barash does know that his time with LoCicero could definitely be threatened by Reeves, Dr. Steven!  Barash exclaimed, “Lisa has got a new set of pecs and a set of six pack abs to do her laundry on. But ya know, we will see, because on daytime nothing lasts forever.  I would like to stay on the show and not lose my job! (Laughs)  I don’t think Johnny is done with Olivia!”

The actress who has blown us all away with scene after scene in 2010 has to be Laura Wright as Carly.  I chatted with Laura about Carly’s recent storylines, starting with the unforgettable scene where she says goodbye to her son, Michael, shortly before they whisk him away to Pentonville. “That was a little difficult.  It’s so funny, because if I am not emotionally invested then I cannot expect the fans to be.  So unfortunately for myself, sometimes I really go there.  It’s a sickness and I feed off that kind of material.  It just keeps me going and going and going, and it’s a weird emotional letdown afterwards. Afterwards, I am not Carly.  It’s scary that I can justify everything Carly does. Sometimes I think, “Is there much of a separation between the two of us?”  And if indeed, her on-screen son Michael (Chad Duell) was raped in prison, what does Wright think of the story beat?  “As characters, we are just not talking about it, and I think its better not talking about it.  For me as an actress, it gives me great motivation for hating Lulu and Dante.  In Carly’s mind, Michael would not have been put in prison if it were not for them.  She clearly blames them, which I love.  Dominic and Julie are so amazing to play with, and it’s fun to play.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

As many know, ABC Daytime President, Brian Frons, handpicked Laura to be the successor to the role of Carly, but was Laura confident from the beginning she could play the complexities of this woman?  “I don’t think I knew how well I would get her and understand her.  At the beginning, I knew right away that I could have so much fun with this character.  I would have never thought that at any other point in my career.  I would never have been able to feel confident to play this role if it were not for the fact it was the right time in my career.  I really credit that to the experience of the other actors I have gotten the opportunity to work with over 20 years, and I have had some great ones!”

With Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo set to mix it up with the old gang at GH when she returns as Brenda on August 11th, that definitely signals some catfights ahead for Carly.  Wright responded, “I can’t imagine anything worse for Carly then Brenda coming back.  I mean it’s hilarious, isn’t it?  Every guy that is important to Carly is connected to Brenda!  I would think that would be Carly’s worse nightmare.” And what of the online rumors that perhaps GH head writer, Bob Guza, has created a little bambino or bamina of Sonny’s that Brenda never told him about? “What can Carly do if that happens?  Nothing.  I am pretty sure she will work and maneuver, and twist things in her own direction.  I cannot imagine Carly would not end up on top, or really mess up some people’s lives.  And what is fun right now with her is, that it is fun to watch Carly being bad and kind of like when she is in a place that she doesn’t care, except for the people she needs to care about, and I just find that fun.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Carly’s love life is certainly been a mess of late.  However, Laura feels that Jax is still the ideal man for Carly!  “She wants to be with Jax, of course.  But, he did really lie to her with a situation about her children.  He put Michael in a really bad position.  I am sure Jax did not realize it was going to happen, and that was really hard for her.  It’s a soap opera, and if you have us happy all the time we are boring.  So you have to find things, and then it’s a struggle, and they both have egos, and so we have to have those scenes where she questions everything and he questions everything.  But when they see each other it’s just this kind of longing, but it’s good soap opera.  In my heart as Laura, I believe Jax is the best thing for Carly.  But Carly doesn’t always handle things that are good for her very well. Carly is comfortable in a place of uncomfortableness, because that is what she has known for her whole life. To put Carly in a place where things make sense, and it’s healthy, and life is good, that is uncomfortable for her.  But, she can scrape and fight in the world of craziness, but if everything is going smooth then to her something has got to be wrong.  That is not normal to her.”   At the end of our conversation I had to give more kudos to Laura and tell her she better start keeping record of all those amazing performances come Emmy time.  A nomination in 2010 must be surely in order.  Ever gracious, Wright commented, “With that I say, “Thank you”, but there are a lot of good actors out there who don’t get recognized, but I will take it as compliment.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

For Lexi Ainsworth, Kristina’s emotional turmoil just never stops.  And that’s good according to Lexi, who details how Kristina felt after last week’s hospital shooting of evil Warren Bauer, Kiefer’s dad!  “She is traumatized, but I love all the stuff I am getting to do.  I may never get another opportunity to do all this intense stuff that I am doing.  It’s a lot of fun, and a challenge…but I like a challenge.   I think it was nice how the father Warren, came back, and Kristina had to face her fears through him.  I think that may have even been bigger than Kiefer, because Warren is where all the abuse started. That was nice to play and Kristina was empowered by that.  I actually liked the shooting scenes that just aired where I was hysterical and screaming.  I think it was some of my best work.”  Speaking of crying, I told Lexi that once soap writers see you can handle waterworks they keep writing it and writing it.  So prepare!  “Yeah, I have seen that, and especially the first time I cried, they went, “Oh, my gosh.  She can cry.”  So they started writing all this stuff where I am crying, but it’s good.”   On another note, why can’t Kristina give her dad Sonny a break and try to reconcile with him?  Ainsworth likes the conflict. “There is a struggle between them both which is good.  She wants to love her dad, but he does all these horrible things.  So it’s hard for her to love him, but on the inside she wants that, but on the outside, she has to protect herself because she has been hurt so much.  I am sure there is a struggle for Sonny, too.”  Now that Kristina is concentrating on school, will actor Daniel Cummings be the new on-screen love interest for Kristina?  “Possibly.  He is a study partner as of now.  But, there is that element that she might have a tiny crush on him.  But at that same time, it’s hard for her to get over Kiefer.  So it will be awhile before she steps into something like that.”  Lexi says being a goody-goody does not strike her fancy, nor being a complete black sheep. “I like the element of both; just because I don’t want people to hate her, but she has a tough side to her to that I like to play.”  But what this young gal seems to really want is to be the next female marvel super hero! “I would love to do movies.  I just saw Salt with Angelina Jolie, and it was originally supposed to be Tom Cruise in the role, but I could not see him in this after seeing Angelina.  You know, I would like to do some action movies, and maybe I should start doing some stunt work. I can do my own stunts then, which I think would be really cool.”

Courtesy/Jim Warren

Steve Burton (Jason) and I moved over to the side of the Green Room to have our download on Jason’s latest on-screen antics, what’s next for everyone’s favorite hit man, and his thoughts on the state of the genre.  But first, Burton’s thoughts on the second arc of the Franco storyline that last week saw “Franco” fall over the balcony at MOCA, seemingly to his own death.  Ah, but its performance, right?  But, did it actually resonate with viewers?  Burton stated, “First things first.  James Franco is a great guy, and the first time he came on to GH he was awesome.  The scenes were awesome.  I did not see the MOCA shows where he fell off the balcony on-air.  I felt there was not the same kind of scenes between he and I and that antagonism on this second arc, because we were not so head to head.  This was more periphery.  I think that might be one of the reasons some may have not liked it as much.  I don’t know. The shoot was great, the location was fun, and it looked great.  So it was cool.  I don’t know what is going to happen to the Franco character.  I was in the make-up room and I think James Franco was on ET and he said, he would love to come back.  So that would be cool for us.  It was great having him on the show.”  But since Franco has given Liz and Lucky’s baby, Aiden, to his own mother, will it be Jason to the rescue? “I was the only one who supposedly knows where the baby is.  I think we figure that one out.” So what’s next for Jason…easy… Brenda, Brenda, Brenda!  “Vanessa being back is going to help the show a lot.  It’s a transitional time for soaps, and we’ve got good momentum, which is great.  Brenda is coming back and will be a pain in the butt for Jason, which will be another thing for me to deal with, but it will be cool.  It will give everyone great story, and so they don’t have to create brand new story, because there is history there.  As for Jason, I think she just annoys him.  Before I was always cleaning up Sonny’s messes all the time, and then she came into the picture, and I was cleaning up her messes.  But with Brenda back, I know it’s going to be, “Oh, here we go!” (Laughs)  It’s very heavy on air for Jason and in story coming up, which is good.  At GH we are going dark a lot of weeks next year, with budget cuts and to save money.  I am not worried about our show at all, that might be selfish way of thinking because I have 40 friends on GH.  I want them to have jobs.  But times are changing, but I think GH can survive.”

Courtesy/Jim Warren

During the Emmy voting process in which GH was up for Outstanding Drama Series, I couldn’t help but tell Steve (as I had written about in past award show Emmy posts) that the one moment from all the Best Show reels that broke my heart was his performance in the Carnival episode when he was wondering around lost, looking for little Jake.  Burton commented, “Yeah…the long walk.  We were losing sunlight at that time, and it was my last shot.  It was almost like doing a movie, because there were so many people around where you had to prepare for that walk.  I felt like I did not get to where I needed to be and when I went back to their booth, which was outside for this shoot, our executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps went, “Ok, great.  Let’s just try it one more time.” I mean we did it twice for other reasons, but I personally felt that I did not get to where I needed to be.  But people have said, “Oh, it was a great thing, and less is more”.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Burton, who admittedly says he has grown as an actor from his humble beginnings, also admits it is all due in part to mentor and friend, Maurice Benard.  It’s Burton who has now given back to young Chad Duell. Steve made a commitment to Chad to help through his first days and weeks at GH.  “He is doing a fantastic job. He has a quality in him…he has depth naturally, and some people have it and some people don’t when you watch them.  I auditioned with him when they first brought him in, and it originally was not for the role of Michael.  They said, “Hey, can you read with him?” So I said, sure.  From the amount of material of what he had in the audition, and the amount of what he was able to do, he was very impressive in the audition room.  And then, it goes from the audition to 50 pages the next day, and you are in, and that is where the transition was.  I saw what he had and it was almost like revisiting Maurice and I, when he helped me.  Maurice saw something in me, but it was wild.  For me, it was more of a lack of technique in your acting as opposed to being all over the place.  Maurice taught me that technique.  I worked with Chad for many weeks.  I would come in early and we would just go over everything, and every beat of every scene.  I couldn’t have done it without him letting me, and him being super prepared.   I said, “Dude. You eat, breathe, and live this show.  Don’t talk to anybody for the first six months.”   He is a young guy.  I was a young guy when Maurice said, “You got something.”  I was going to leave the show and Maurice said, “Let’s just work together and see what happens”.  I saw the same thing in Chad.  You know, I lived with Maurice like family.  We would rehearse scenes over and over and over and over again.  Chad said, “I’m in,” and we went for it.  When some people come on the show, they would never give you 50 pages your first day.  So I said to Chad, “Nothing else goes on in your life right now but this show, because you are going to live or you are going to die.  Especially taking another guy’s role, the built in, “I want him to fail,” is in there.  So that is why it’s great with him; that he did come out of it.  I knew he could.  It was a matter of, “Just relax. You’re OK.  Let’s just do it.  So, it’s a lot of stuff, but he has the talent.”

Courtesy/Jim Warren

Does Steve or his character of Jason, think Michael was truly raped?  This is the million dollar soap opera question of the year!  Burton has his point of view, “First of all, I like they made it ambiguous and it’s not all just about the rape, or the rape story.  This is much more interesting the way they did it, because we are not sure.  I have an idea something else happened.  I don’t know what it is yet, but it’s something that was not good for him.  I think that it is good, that they write it into the show that we know something happened.  We are the only ones who know, and Dante a little bit. But we are trying to work it through and kind of move on.  I don’t know if it will ever be revealed, and I don’t think they should.  I don’t think they are going to. They could, but I don’t think it’s worth it.  We are getting more emotional stuff out of it. You know the unsaid is more powerful than coming out and saying it.”    Burton, who we all know has the buffest body in daytime, has been kickin’ it into high gear this summer with his training, etc.  And of course, his legions of fans are always begging to ask the question, “When will Jason be shirtless again?”  Burton had this little tease to offer, “Well, since I get out of jail, there is some petting and kissing probably with Sam.  I am almost shirtless ready, but they haven’t asked me to do so in a scene. We will see how long I can hold on to my shirt until September! (Laughs)

Next, the actors were introduced one by one to the fans, and then the hilarious Q&A ensued led by John J. York (Mac). Below are some of the best responses from GH cast members to questions asked by the fans!

Megan Ward: Why has Kate not fired Maxie? “I really hope Kate does not fire Maxie, because then what would I be doing? Although, I think that both her and Lulu deserve it from time to time.”

John J. YorkWhat is the worst thing about being shot? “I would have to say the catheter.”

Steve Burton: Who takes longest to get dressed to the set? “Well you know, I have one outfit and I sleep in it. So it’s not me.  Ronnie Marmo (Ronnie) takes a little while with that pompadour.  I would have to say Scott Reeves. To airbrush those muscles on takes a long time and it’s amazing. (Laughs)”

Jonathan Jackson: Who does he want Lucky to end up with? “The whole chemistry with Elizabeth is always there, and the fact that Aiden is his child but he does not know it, comes into play there.  I have really enjoyed a lot of the scenes with Dahlia Salem (Claire), and I have enjoyed the scenes I have done with Kirsten (Maxie), as well.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Dominic Zamprogna:  Did you know your character, Dante, would have such a strong impact?  “My manager who was a huge fan of the show told me, “This is such a huge character. You have to audition for it!”  So I went, “alright”, and I auditioned.  And I realized when your manager, who shouldn’t have a bias on what you’re auditioning for, did with this show, then I realized it was a good part.   I want to thank the fans for liking me!”

Jason Cook: Did you like having sex in the broom closet? “Matt enjoys fooling around with anything in a broom closet.  He had a dry spell for two years.  Who does not want to go to a broom closet and get it on?”

In the end, it was Fan Club Prez, Debbie Morris, who after a long year of planning and several days of events, said it was all worth the effort to make the GH’ers happy campers! “It’s very rewarding and let me say this; I could not do it without my ladies Michelle and Claire.  I have had some medical issues this year and they stepped up and put this together for me and that was very touching to me.  They are my right and left hand and this is not a one man show.   I had a lot of people who helped put this together. This was my 34th year doing this, and it’s been a labor of love.”   Since Debbie has the pulse on what her GH fan clubs likes and dislikes, I had to ask, who they were looking forward most to seeing this year?  “Dominic!  He is kind of smoldering gorgeous.  He is a great actor. Steve Burton always, Maurice always, and people love those guys and it’s a given.  That has never died.  My opinion; that whoever the show chooses to put in the forefront storyline wise, is always popular, but the fans love everybody.”   Morris thinks the return of Vanessa Marcil Gioinvazzo is also going to be huge for the fan base. “Brenda is one of my favorite characters, and Vanessa is one of my favorite people.   I was there for her first day of taping.  She said “hello”, and she made my day.  I told her I was just so happy that she was back. She brings a lot to the show.  I think everyone is happy with the show now, and the storylines.  There is a lot of love going on and they like that.  Also, I did like the Franco story.  I think it’s always fun when Franco comes back, and it gives it a new element.  I also like that they put Dante and Jason together.  It’s a refreshing dynamic to see.”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

And as the individual autograph sessions got under way and then concluded, followed by more individual fan events on Sunday that went into the wee hours…. I am talking to you Lante fans, everyone said their goodbyes till same time next year, taking with them memories from the hottest cast in daytime, and I am not just talking looks here!

Till next time, Michael.

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Heidi
Heidi

Great stuff Michael! Thank you! Missed the videos though… saw you with the mike, wished it could have been your usual video clips!

semaj
semaj

i would love a ethan and kristina paring they have amazing chemistry together

dinah
dinah

Megan Ward had the best event at FCW!!!

Kimmie
Kimmie

Damn Straight!!

Kimmie
Kimmie

*sad face* no interview with Megan Ward!! Mad that her character is seriously on the back burner!! Love Megan Ward!! She needs interviewed and photographed.. her fans are never failing and CARE about what she is doing, Since the idiots at GH know not what they do!

dinah
dinah

Amen siter Kimmer!!

Gail
Gail

I thought it was great that Megan Ward received one of the loudest and longest welcomes when announced at both the kickoff and main events. And her event was the first sold out. She is one of the most popular actresses on GH, yet she has been put on the back burner for the past year. This really makes no sense to me at all I would love to see another Megan Ward interview. Her fans just can’t get enough of her!!! Miss Kate at Crimson and, of course, with Sonny!!!

JDS
JDS

I totally agree! GH is bringing back Brenda, so the two big loves of Sonny’s life, Kate and Brenda, will be on the canvas at the same time and both have ties to the fashion industry! I miss seeing Kate regularly and hope to see more of her at Crimson and back in her story with Sonny!

Schnell
Schnell

Thanks for the coverage of GHFCW.

I was happy to see the response that Megan Ward received at the events. She always had one of the longest lines at the Kick Off and the Main Event. Even at Maurice Benard’s event there were Sonny and Kate mentions and discussions at different times throughout by fans and by Maurice. Kate should be back in the forefront at GH in storylines at Crimson, with her family and yes, with Sonny!

Betty Voshell
Betty Voshell

I wish Steve Burton will tell the truth for once. In April he had a Virtual personal appearance and stated at that time we will see him “shirtless” with Sam in JULY. Jasam fans are still waiting for it to happen. Almost “shirtless” ready? Steve works out with Scott Reeves and had an 8 week goal he achieved at the end of June. He was buffed before his vaca, so now he is “almost shirtless ready’? Hey Steve, these same excuses are getting old real fast. Your fans are not stupid.

Kathy Hedrick
Kathy Hedrick

Why would you say something like to about Steve. Things happen and stuff gets changed. How do you know that there wasn’t a change in the script and that is why there was no “shirtless” scene in July, he doesn’t control everything. I’m actually offended that you would talk about him like that and on the off chance he reads this I want him and everyone else to know that I am a fan of his because he is a great actor and I’m not just watching and waiting around to seem him with no shirt on and he also seems to be a really decent man who does a lot for his fans. If you are only watching to see him without a shirt then I feel sorry for you because you are missing out on what truly makes him special.

Betty Voshell
Betty Voshell

I am sorry I offended you and I am sorry you feel sorry for me. You are right scripts change. So why would Steve make a comment like that back in April on something that doesn’t happen until July? For what purpose? To keep everybody happy it would have been better to not say anything at all. If you are not familiar with the 2006 “Summer of Sleaze” shirtless controversy, then you have no idea what my comments were referring to. I am sure Steve is very happy you are a big fan of his. What would make Steve even happier, is if you bought some of that Monavie he sells and a $250 Port Chuck concert ticket. Steve would be thrilled.

Ashlyn
Ashlyn

Would have loved to read more on Megan Ward. She went to the FCW Kick-Off, Luncheon, AND had the duo event with Greg Vaughan (ex-Lucky) so there were many opportunities for material. Thank you for your coverage, and hoping next year if she is still on General Hospital that you will focus on Megan as well. (Although personally I feel she deserves better and will hopefully find a role elsewhere by then.)

Jen
Jen

Love the last pic!lol! Dom & Julie’s event was the best!

ANITA LEADINGHAM
ANITA LEADINGHAM

STEVE BURTON IS FUNNY GUY ON THE SHOW . STEVE YOU ARE NICE PERSON . I CAN;T WAIT SEE YOU PERSON TONIGHT .

Breaking News

GH’s Vinessa Antoine Lands Primetime Series Will Make Canadian TV History!

Fantastic news for General Hospital favorite, Vinessa Antoine (Jordan)! The talented actress had landed the leading role in the primetime Canadian series, Diggstown!

The legal drama is scheduled to air this fall.  In Diggstown, Antoine will play Marcie Diggs, a top corporate lawyer who decides to dedicate herself to a legal aid office in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

This casting news will make Vinessa a part of Canadian TV history as the first Black Canadian actress to star in a prime-time drama on legacy network television, CBC.

Antoine spoke to the Toronto Star about her starring role, “When I first read the script I was really attracted to the notion that she was a corporate lawyer and she believed in the system. And when that crashed for her, life nudged her to do something extraordinary. And because I’m a woman of color, so many things connected. She’s complex, not stereotypical, and that’s refreshing.”

However as suspected, and according to the Toronto Star: “General Hospital fans will not be happy to learn that Antoine, who has been with the show since 2014, will no longer be a series regular when she starts shooting Diggstown in August.”

So, excited to hear Vinessa has been cast in a leading primetime series?  Comment below!

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General Hospital

Dominic Zamprogna Speaks Out On His Decision To Leave GH, His Final Scenes With Emme Rylan & How Dante Exited The Canvas

A few weeks ago, General Hospital fans watched as one of the series beloved stars, Dominic Zamprogna (Dante) exited the show in scenes opposite his longtime on-screen love interest, Emme Rylan (Lulu).  For nine years, Zamprogna brought authenticity, emotion, and heart to the son of Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and Olivia Falconeri (Lisa LoCicero) to life.  While Dante’s journey started out with a bang, literally (thanks, Sonny!), over the years it appeared he was taking a backseat in meatier storylines.  All the while, Dante and Lulu remained one of the more popular duos with the viewers.

After much reflection, Zamprogna decided it was time for him to walk away from a place that became his second home.  His desire now shifted to play different characters in different projects, but it was not without taking many things into account with his life-changing decision.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Dominic to glean more insight into: if there was anything GH could have done to make him sign on the dotted line again, what went down to make those final scenes seem so rushed, how it was to say goodbye to his co-workers in front of the camera and behind the scenes, if he would consider a return at some point, and how would he feel if GH now planned on recasting Dante, and much more.

For us; we recall meeting Dominic for the first times just six months into his time at General Hospital for our first interview together.  We were instantly struck by his sincerity, humor, and his eagerness to learn from some of the best in the business.  Now exiting as a “soap vet“, per se, it is a full-circle moment that we had the time to conclude his GH journey with this conversation.  Here’s what Dom had to say about it all.

What were the factors that contributed to your decision to exit GH?  Was there a pivotal moment where you were feeling, and recognizing, that you were underutilized that you felt you needed to make a change? 

DOMINIC:  When you named me the “Most Underutilized Actor of 2017!” (Laughs) Well, my plan was never to stay forever.  But half-way through my second contract,  Emme Rylan (Lulu) and I were approached by our producer on set, who said words to the effect of: you guys have been on the sideline, time to get you into the game.  That led to the Dante cheating storyline, which gave us story for about a year … which was great!  But as that ended, so did any subsequent storylines, it seemed.  In the year that followed, I started entertaining thoughts of leaving.  By the next year, I started talking about it with my wife, Linda, who had started to notice that maybe I wasn’t happy anymore, and I wasn’t.  That’s not a good feeling, especially if you’re bringing that energy home with you.  Then, I made the mistake of going on social media, which is a terrible place to go sometimes.  But fans were saying the same sort of things I was feeling.  Was it all due to story or lack-thereof?  No.  I was starting to crave playing other roles, and that’s hard to do when you’re under contract.

Were discussions even had with Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) and the powers-that-be about your feelings of dissatisfaction over not being utilized more in storylines?

DOMINIC:  The discussions happened late.  Not until the negotiation process, actually.  I’m no squeaky wheel I guess, but I also don’t feel it’s in my job description to be one.  I did put out a few ideas here and there, but they didn’t happen.  I know other actors have tried the same and it didn’t lead to anything for them, either.  I was a creation of Bob Guza (former head writer, GH), and maybe I was spoiled by the amount of great writing I received while he was there.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

There had to be some sadness in walking away from GH.

DOMINIC:  Oh yeah… it was sad.  I built that character, and now here I was walking away from it, and essentially my second family.  That’s been the hardest part.  Lifelong friendships were made, and memories.  However, it’s been over a month and a half since I’ve been at GH and I feel happy.  I’ve been up in Canada shooting Tin Star, which has been a great experience.  I’ve stayed in touch with everybody and I miss everybody, in fact, I just spoke to Mo (Maurice Benard) yesterday, and I’m in class with Emme (she won’t leave me alone).  But, I feel like I made the right choice for me at this moment.

To clarify; were you actually trying to work out a deal to stay put, but both sides just could not hammer things out to a satisfactory conclusion?

DOMINIC:  We did try to work out a deal.  After more talks and conversations, I felt maybe we were going to get things done.  I was being told things would change and maybe shift things in the direction we wanted to go.  But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be in writing.  I feel like I’d been told similar things in the past which hadn’t come to fruition.  I was also reminded that it was me who needed to sign my name on that dotted line and live with that decision, and I chose not to do so.

If someone would have said to you: “We have an “A” story for you, and you are going to be driving it,” would you have been more apt to stay?   

DOMINIC:  There was talk about us sitting down and talking about storylines, but that didn’t end up happening, not sure why.  And even if it did, I don’t know that it would’ve changed my mind about leaving, anyway.   But just to be clear: I have no anger towards anybody.  It’s all a business at the end of the day.  Both sides did what they felt was right.  For me, I just felt this chapter had come to an end.

Photo: ABC

When, and how did you tell on-screen scene partner, Emme Rylan that you were leaving?  Was she happy for you and your decision?

DOMINIC:  Emme knew really early on.  Once January rolled around I was like: “I have been thinking for the last six to nine months that I am going to go.”   I wanted her to know, because we have been a couple for five years on the show.  Emme was very happy for me.  I went, “Wait a minute!  Don’t be this happy.  I’m leaving.” (Laughing)  

What happened when you told your on-screen mom, Lisa LoCicero ?

DOMINIC:  She was sad, but she is also said, “You’re in your prime, go see what’s out there!”   I wouldn’t have done this move if I did not get support at home.  My wife is the rock and the one that makes this household go.  Some things outside the show were starting to happen; I had a nice screen-test for a pilot, and then I booked these four episodes of Tin Star.  When you have choices in life; you have power and control over your future.  I think Emme and Lisa as actors realized that.  That’s what made them happy for me … for the future.  The last nine years were exciting.  However, when you can have a little bit more say in what you are doing on a day to day basis, that is empowering.  So, in saying, “no” to something, and saying, “Thank you, but that’s not what I am looking for right now,” that can feel good.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

It was a shame that through all the regimes that they rarely wrote any scenes between Dante and his father, Sonny.  What was Maurice Benard’s reaction when you told him you were leaving?

DOMINIC:  It has been pretty publicized that he and I were dissatisfied at the lack of  storyline, or scenes together.  Maurice asked the powers-that-be, “Why aren’t we working together more?”  We never had a clear answer as to why.  He didn’t know from one day to the next what was happening with my contract talks.  Mo saw me smiling one day and asked, “So does that smile mean you’re staying?”  And I said, “No, that smile is because I’m leaving.” (Laughs)  I said that more to mess with him, and make him sad.  He said, “As long as you are good financially, then I am all for anybody getting out of here and seeing what else is out there.” Really, Mo talks people into leaving so he can get more screen-time. (Laughs)

Let’s talk about the final airshow, and the story that came out of left field to facilitate your exit.  Was that written quickly to accommodate a shooting schedule or contract completion?  It felt rushed to the viewing audience.

DOMINIC:  Left field is right!  I still had a week and a half left of work when they found out I wasn’t going to re-sign, and within twelve hours I had six exit scenes written.  So, it wasn’t done to facilitate anything but a set (Lante’s house), I think.  My final tape date was May 18th, and Emme and I had scenes on the Wednesday or Thursday before that.  I guess they wanted my last scenes that aired to be with Emme, and that might have been the only scheduling day that worked for the set and the actors, and maybe that’s also why it felt so rushed.  All I could assume is that they didn’t think I was really going to leave so they didn’t plan for it, or they chose to protect themselves in this way, by not making a big deal about it.  I had another week of scenes in the PCPD with Chase (Josh Swickard) and Michael (Chad Duell) that was shot afterward.  But they had nothing to do with Dante’s “secret mission!”

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

I thought, “Wait!  Is that it?  Is this Dominic’s final show?  Dante doesn’t say goodbye to his mother… his father … or his son, Rocco?

DOMINIC:  Yeah, that was tough for me.  After 9 years you think you’re going to get a little bit better of a send off.   You also, hope they’re going to honor the character.  Dante wouldn’t leave to go to the 7-eleven without saying goodbye to his mother and kids.   Maurice and I talked about that.  He said, “I guess, they don’t want people to feel really sad.  You and me doing some goodbye scenes, people are going to be devastated.”   I agree with that.  However, I also think it’s a soap and that’s what fans want … good, ole drama.  I would have loved to have had scenes with Sonny, Olivia, and Dante’s kids, but when you make a decision like this, how you leave on-air is not up to you.  Both parties are going to handle it how it’s best for them.   I was very grateful they gave Emme and I something to seek our teeth into. 

They were very sad scenes.  You are one of those actors that can take the material and connect with it while delivering it in a very subtle and heartfelt way.  How was Emme after your final scenes?

DOMINIC:  She was kind of crying the whole time, going “Damn you! Damn you.”   I was having fun with it, because I love making Emme cry.  It’s not a very difficult thing to do.  (Laughs).  We were both pretty teary-eyed, actually.  Then, when we finished the scenes and I looked over and I saw how upset the crew was, that’s what really got me.  Barbara, one of the camera operators actually jokingly apologized; suggesting that if my last shot was blurry it was my fault!  As an actor, when you make the crew feel something it kind of gives you some extra good feels. That was always the best feeling, talking to Craig (our stage manager), or Donna (head of makeup department) after a scene to get the honest truth on how you did.  I’ll miss them.

Courtesy/ABC

Viewers, watching Dante have this flashback about the guy who was responsible for Lulu going overboard the Haunted Star a few years ago, probably needed a moment to connect the dots.  Some viewers were going, “What?  Dante is going after the guy that tried to drown Lulu from two years ago?”

DOMINIC:  When I read that in the script even I went, “What?” Who’s that?”  I had no idea, either. (Laughs)

Then there was this:  Dante was so hard on Lulu for her pursuing her dream as a journalist and how it inadvertently got Nathan killed.  Then all of a sudden in your final scenes, Dante has a line to Lulu in which he says something to the effect of: I understand now – you got to do, what you got to do.  In story, prior to these scenes it was leaning more towards Dante and Lulu were going to break-up over what had recently transpired.

DOMINIC:  Which, who knows?  If Dante had stayed in Port Charles it could have been the direction they were going in.  It certainly looked like they were building toward conflict, conflict, conflict, but with me leaving it was much sweeter to leave on the note that we left on, instead of Dante leaving, because he can’t deal with being around Lulu. This all leads me to believe that they didn’t want to do anything too permanent to give them time to make the proper decisions.

Courtesy/ABC

What was the last day of shooting like for you?  Was it hard to get through?

DOMINIC:  It felt like a regular day, and my final scenes were up towards the end of the tape day. They had a cake afterwards.  Frank briefly spoke and introduced Maurice; who said a bunch of sweet words.  That meant a lot to me.  I said “goodbye” to everybody and took some photos, and that was it.  I already had my room packed up.  Once you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go.  Afterwards, I went out with Ryan Paevey (Ex-Nathan) and Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Ex-Carlos) for some beers and wings at the bar down the street.  It wasn’t until everybody came back after a two-week break that it felt real, because then I was receiving text messages from people saying, “We’re back.  Why the hell aren’t you here?”

The door has been left open for Dante to return.  Would you ever come back?

DOMINIC:  Of course, at some point.  But it might not be my choice, they might recast.  They told me they won’t, but who knows what’ll be done.  Do I think you can just recast a role?  No, I think it’s always a tough sell, but they’ve done it with bigger names/characters than mine.  I would be a little surprised, only because there hasn’t been much story for Dante in the last three years.  For me, as of now, I’ve moved on, and I’m very happy with my decision and my life.  It’s sad in other respects, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve read things that people have said on Twitter, and I want everyone to know I’ve seen it all and it means a lot to me.  People have been beautiful to me.  I’m truly overwhelmed by the love.  I thought there would be more of, “Who cares?” when fans found out I left.   I must have done something right during the years I was at GH.

Did you think when you made the decision to leave they would kill-off Dante? 

DOMINIC:  No, not at all.  I don’t think killing off Dante would be a good idea, especially after they killed Nathan, and also because of the climate we live in with police involved shootings and violence, in general.  In a perfect world as an actor, you crave the opportunity to have one last moment with the other characters that have been important to your character over the years.  That’s all I would have wanted for myself, and Dante.  I’ll take what I got though.  It was extremely meaningful because of what Emme and I had and built.  I feel we got to the heart and soul of those two characters in a pretty short amount of time in our scenes.

Courtesy/ABC

Speaking of Nathan, I think thus far those funeral scenes, which you were wonderful in, and the story arc revolving around his death, are GH’s best bet for an Emmy in the Drama Series category next year. 

DOMINIC:  I agree.  It was so well-done.  We’d all would like to go out like that!  Tragic, but it made for great TV and great soap.  It was phenomenally well-acted across the board.  Lots of Emmy reel stuff for Michelle Stafford (Nina) and Kirsten Storms (Maxie), and Kathleen Gati (Liesl), and hopefully for our directors and crew, also.  They did an amazing job bringing that to life.

This now leaves Josh Swickard as the lone cop now by default on GH.   he PCPD is notorious for being the worst cop shop in the history of soaps! (Laughs) They can’t ever solve a crime.

DOMINIC: (Laughs) I know!  What is Josh is going to do?   Maybe between Chase and Jordan (Vienssa Antoine) they will solve crimes.  Maybe, they’ll bring on a new cop.  Josh is a great guy and I enjoyed working with him.  At the beginning, we had that contentious relationship between the two guys.  That would’ve been fun if it lasted longer, where they had this continual real dislike for one another.  Who knows?  With Dante gone, maybe they will start solving some crimes! (Laughs) Maybe now the PCPD will be the greatest police unit in the USA.

Courtesy/ABC

Over your nine years at GH, would you still consider that your best storyline was coming on to the show and then having Sonny shoot Dante, only for it to turn out that he just shot his own son?

DOMINIC:  Yes, I think you have to.  That was my intro.  They had this story planned eight months before they even cast the role.  To get to that moment, was a classic soap cliffhanger.  I grew up watching soap operas with my grandparents, and if they had been alive for that scene they would have lost it, because it was something that ‘old school’ soap fans would really dig.  For me, doing that story felt so special.  ABC also pumped it with the promotion, and the promos, and the TV spots, and amped it up.  I didn’t feel it disappointed.  It was actually the audition scene that I had to perform to get the part!  Then six months later you get to say these lines that got you the part, and you hope you don’t whiff on the softball.

While putting together and producing the GH 55th anniversary tribute package for this year’s Daytime Emmys, I included that moment between Sonny and Dante.  I remember watching the complete scene before editing it and the dialog was so good.  It still holds up to this day.

DOMINIC:  My manager was at the Emmys that night, and said what a great moment that was.  I meant to thank you for that, because I really appreciated it being in there.

Courtesy/ABC

Are there any other scenes that come to mind that you are most proud of?

DOMINIC:  I also really loved the scenes with Max Gail (Mike). He is a special guy.  There was so much in our scenes; where Dante finds him with Avery in the stables.  Those moments are going to stick with me for a long time.

On June 28th, the airdate of your last episode, you posted a tweet to the fans that read: “The love you guys have given me over the years and continue to give is overwhelming.  It is I that must thank YOU!”  I thought that was extremely touching and very appreciated by the fans.

DOMINIC:  I was thinking, “Man, I have to thank you, because I would not legitimately be here if you hadn’t liked this guy, Dante.”  It was bringing tears to my eyes reading what people were saying, and seeing how much love I was receiving.

Tell me about your role in the British-Canadian production of Tin Star?

DOMINIC:  It’s a recurring role,  I’ve been working on it since March.  It’s something very different from what I’ve been doing the last 9 years.  Can’t give much away, but I play a hired gun type of guy.  There are some great scenes and moments, and I was lucky enough to work with Christina Hendricks, John Lynch, and the legend, Tim Roth.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Do you feel now that you have had some time away now from GH, and have been playing another role, that the thought of playing Dante for you at this point is like: “Been there. Done that?”

DOMINIC:  I would never say Dante is done forever.  Right now for me, he is.  They left it open, hopefully they left it open for me, but every actor hopes that.  We want our cake and to eat it too!  I want to leave right now, but I want you to want me to come back some day.  No one wants their role to be recast.  But it’s an important character, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  Who knows what the future holds.  I left on good terms.  Just so everyone knows; I didn’t spring something on GH on the last day of my contract.  It’s important that I let people know that I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “See ya”.  This also wasn’t about money.  Sure, we want to be paid what we believe we’re worth.  But this in no way was about me asking for the moon, or I was going to leave.  It was a very, very difficult decision.

So, what do you think about how GH wrapped up Dante’s story for Dominic’s exit? Would you like him to return to GH sooner than later?  Do you think the role of Dante was problematic to write for?  What were your favorite scenes of Dom’s during his time at GH? Let us know via the comment section below.

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Breaking News

GH’s Maurice Benard Takes On Role Of Police Captain In New Film, ‘Equal Standard’

While the cast of General Hospital is on their three-week summer hiatus, many of the actors have gone off to do different things with their time … some are traveling … some are on tour or making personal appearances, and some are making movies or filming other projects.

Maurice Benard is continuing to land film roles when he has the time to step away from his role as mobster Sonny Corinthos on the ABC daytime drama series.

Now in an Instagram post this week, Maurice shared an update on the filming of his upcoming motion picture, Equal Standard which also stars Ice-T.

In his post showing him in his character’s police uniform sans jacket, Maurice expressed: “Always great to play different characters.  In New York playing a police captain. Very cool and interesting script.”

In story, Equal Standard tells the story of an off-duty New York City police detective who gets caught in an inner city brawl between undercover cops convinced he is a local street thug. The melee ends in a tragic death followed by an uproar within gangs and cops in neighboring communities and across the city. The movie also features Robert Clohessy, and OLTL alum Tobias Truvillion (Vincent).

So, glad to hear Maurice is getting the opportunity to play more diverse roles?  Comment below.

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