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

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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

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

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

Courtesy/CVanEttenTwitter

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

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

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

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Allen Saint JamesJMERrebecca1nancy dillingham4ever DAYS Recent comment authors
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su0000
su0000

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

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

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

Fanny
Fanny

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

aria
aria

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

Jovin
Jovin

Su is a man, by the way.

Rebecca1
Rebecca1

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

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

Allen Saint James
Allen Saint James

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

Jake
Jake

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

nancy dillingham
nancy dillingham

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

Reed
Reed

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

rose
rose

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

4ever DAYS
4ever DAYS

@aria

su0000 only watches GH and Y&R.

rebecca1
rebecca1

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

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

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

JMER
JMER

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

Dancing with the Stars Juniors

LISTEN TO THE REPLAY: Soap Nation Live! With Special Guests: Y&R’s Joshua Morrow, DWTS: Juniors & GH’s Hudson West & B&B’s Joe Lando

Photo Credits: CBS, JPI, ABC

Listen to “Soap Nation Live! October 2018” on Spreaker.

If you missed Thursday night’s broadcast of Soap Nation Live! with Michael Fairman you can now listen to the replay right here in audio player above!

This episode was given to the gents in soaps as Michael welcomed his very special guests: The Young and the Restless Joshua Morrow (Nick Newman), Dancing with the Stars: Juniors and General Hospital’s Hudson West (Jake), and The Bold and the Beautiful, and One Life to Live and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman favorite, Joe Lando (Judge Craig McMullen).

During this fun night of chat, Joshua weighed-in on the Shick wedding that went bust, when Sharon told Nick at the altar that she knows he had sex with Phyllis.  Morrow, who will celebrate his 25th year as Nick Newman in early 2019 chimed in what the future for the stat-crossed couple may hold, and how he has enjoyed showing Nick’s dark side of late, plus he revealed one scene he felt uncomfortable with that he would not play, the ladies over the years in Nick’s life, and when asked by a listener of his memories of the late, great Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor), Joshua shared some fun and poignant remembrances. He also addressed the status of Doug Davidson at the CBS daytime drama, and hopes that the writers will find a way to utilize the Y&R vet in the future.

Next, Hudson West’s joined the podcast where he gave listeners the inside scoop on what it has been like to be one of the 12 celebrity kids competing in the first-ever Dancing with the Stars: Juniors, which debuts Sunday at 8PMEST in a two-hour season premiere on ABC.  Hudson talked on how he has been learning the dance moves with his young pro dance partner and Dancing with the Stars pro mentor, how he deals with nerves before performing his dance routines and more.  General Hospital fans who know of Hudson’s Daytime Emmy-nominated performance of Jake Webber, Elizabeth and Jason’s son, got some interesting tidbits when he talked about working with Rebecca Herbst, Steve Burton and more, and how much he loves being on the show.

The final guest of the night was Joe Lando.  Prior to bringing Joe on the air, Michael played a classic clip from Megan’s death on One Life to Live from the 90’s, where Joe as Jake Harrison performed one of the saddest and most memorable scenes in soaps with his then acting partner, Jessica Tuck.  Joe then revealed when he was on Soap Nation Live that it has been over 20 years since he had heard the scene, and was still moved by it.  Lando who is now appearing as Judge McMullen on CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful teased there could be a love interest around the corner for the judge, as well as some retribution for his ruling in the custody case of Will Spencer, because of a favor called in by Ridge.  Lando also talks about his time on the hit primetime series, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman as Byron Sully, and shared more about his time on One Life to Live working with the likes of: Erika Slezak, Bob Woods, and Tuck.

Last, during out Game Show segment, a lucky caller won two VIP tickets to the Star Struck Fan Event Fall Festival in Alexandria, Virginia featuring members of the cast of Days of our Lives, as well as a Y&R goodie bag; which includes a personalizes autographed picture of Joshua Morrow, after answering correctly some Nick Newman trivia!

For archived and past episodes of Soap Nation Live, you can go to the official show page on Spreaker.com here.

Now, listen to the broadcast with Joshua, Hudson, and Joe above, and then let us know via the comment section below what was your favorite moment in the broadcast.

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Breaking News

General Hospital Honored With Sentinel Award For Alzheimer’s Storyline

This week, ABC’s General Hospital was one of the recipients and honorees at the 2018 Sentinel Awards.

The awards honor storylines that inform, educate, and motivate audiences to make choices for healthier and safer lives.

Now in their 19th year, the 2018 Sentinel Awards were presented by Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S), a program of The Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

The 12 outstanding Sentinel Awards honorees for 2018 spotlighted topics that included: nuclear safety, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, autism, sexual assault, mental health and disabilities.

One of those programs to receive the award was ABC’s General Hospital for “Sonny’s Dad storyline” which as viewers know shed a light on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease for those afflicted and their loved ones.   The story is beautifully played by Max Gail (Mike) and Maurice Benard (Sonny).  Accepting  the award on behalf of the series was EP, Frank Valentini.

Other series, notably Empire was recognized for their abortion storyline, and Grey’s Anatomy for their Hemorrhage cart storyline representing Maternal health were two other popular shows that also received recognition for their work. among others.

So, proud of GH for receiving this honor for the work they are doing in telling the emotional tale of Mike’s battle with Alzheimer’s and how it affects Sonny and his family? Comment below.

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Breaking News

Chloe Lanier Making A Return To General Hospital

Look for naughty Nelle to be back on all-new episodes of GH, and that means fans will get to see more of Daytime Emmy-winner, Chloe Lanier!

According to Soap Opera Digest, Lanier will be back on-screen after leaving the show In August after two years with the daytime drama series.

When Chloe left the series, Nelle was carted off to prison for her deceptions and crimes, but according to her chat with SOD, she is back because she ‘has some unfinished business with some people.”  Lanier’s return stint starts next week.

So how will Nelle’s re-emergence impact Lucas and Brad who are raising Nelle and Michael’s son?  Will she seek more retribution on Carly?  Stay tuned.  After all, Nelle gave her baby to Brad in the now notorious baby switch, which we have since learned that baby “Wiley” has a heart condition that can be traced back to Michael’s side of the family,

Glad there will be more Nelle coming up on GH? 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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