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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!

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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?

General Hospital

Happy 57th Anniversary Today to General Hospital

ABC’s daytime drama, General Hospital turns 57 today, and remains the current longest-running soap opera on the air.  GH debuted back on April 1, 1963.

The show was created by the husband-and-wife team of Frank and Doris Hursley.  Originally, the soap was not given a name of a particular town in which the drama of the hospital was set in.  However, that all changed in the 1970’s when GH was set in Port Charles.

GH expanded from a 30-minute show to a 45-minute show on July 26, 1976 and eventually went to a full-hour where it has remained back on January 16, 1978.

Throughout its decades on the air, GH was the impetus for two spin-offs; Port Charles, (which aired from 1997-2003) and primetime’s GH: Night Shift (2007-2008),

The show went through many ups and downs over its history, but things changed dramatically for the better, when by the end of the 1970’s and facing cancellation, ABC brought in executive producer, Gloria Monty to steer the ship.  Monty created supercouple Luke and Laura played by Tony Geary and Genie Francis, and opened the show up with exciting location shoots, and from then on GH has remained a firm mainstay in the daytime line-up.

Today, Frank Valentini is the series executive producer, and the soap is co-written by the head writing team of Dan O’Connor and Chris Van Etten.

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Happy 57th Anniversary Today to General Hospital

As 80%, as of now, in the US are reported to be homebound due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the latest ratings for the week of March 23, 2020, GH drew 2.57 million viewers,- its strongest week since March 19, 2018.  So, more eyeballs are tuning-in to the drama in Port Charles.

Share your congratulations and well-wishes to the cast, crew, and creatives at General Hospital for 57 years of drama, romance and intrigue via the comment section below.

But first, vote in our poll for your favorite storyline or moment of all-time on GH.  If your favorite is not one of the choices listed in the poll, let us know in the comment section which is your favorite, or if you voted for one of the selections, let us know why, too! 

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General Hospital

General Hospital to Air Encore Episodes On ‘Flashback Fridays’ To Help Stretch Out Originals During COVID-19 Shutdown

With the coronavirus changing our lives every today, and a return to production in the air for so many TV series, General Hospital will now air four new episodes a week to stretch out the remaining episodes they have banked before the COVID-10 pandemic forced soap opera production to come to a full work stoppage.

Now, starting this Friday, om the April 6th, the ABC daytime drama series w will air repeat episodes every Friday through May 22.

These encore presentations will be called “Flashback Fridays,” and each episode will feature an introduction from a  General Hospital cast member.

To kick things off, this Friday, the series will air a repeat of last year’s 56th-anniversary episode, with an  intro by Laura Wright. GH fans will recall that episode centered around the reading of the late Gail Baldwin’s will.

According to The Wrap:  :At the time of the production break, the ABC soap had enough episodes pre-taped to carry originals into May.”

Tomorrow on April 1st, will also mark GH’s 57th anniversary.

So what do you think of the plan to stretch out original episodes bu adding in one encore a week; until GH can get back to producing more episodes? Comment below?

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General Hospital

The Triumphant Return of Kelly Thiebaud As GH’s Dr. Britt Westbourne

When a shocked Nurse Felix Dubois (Marc Anthony Samuel) exclaimed “Dear lord, the Britch is back,” after seeing none other than Dr. Britt Westbourne with her lab coat hovering around the nurses station at “General Hospital”, you knew things were about to go down on the ABC daytime drama series.

Over the past few weeks, Kelly Thiebaud has been in action on-screen on General Hospital as the the trouble-making, complicated, Britt.   Since returning to the canvas, viewers learned that: Britt has been paroled from her previous crimes, seems to say she believes and actually likes her half-brother, Peter August (Wes Ramsey), has confronted her mutter in jail (Liesl Obrecht played by Kathleen Gati), whom Peter framed, and showed up at Brad’s (Parry Shen) hearing to be there for her bestie, who has been in hot water for the baby switch of Wiley.

But, there have been a lot more intriguing things than even that! Britt is now hitting the sheets with none-other than Julian (William deVry), and also let him know in no uncertain terms she knows his part in the whole Brad cover-up.   But what is her true motive?  We also learned in a run-in at GH, that Neil (Joe Flanigan) and Britt know each other from somewhere.  He is trying to put his finger on just where, but does Britt know? Probably!

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However, the best  and most entertaining moment on soaps last week was when Britt arrived in her lab coat to GH and revealed to both Felix and Liz (Rebecca Herbst) that she had worked hard enough to be able to get her medical license restored … and that Monica (Leslie Charleson) brought her on with a provisional acceptance as a temporary replacement for Dr. Kim Nero as an OBGYN for the hospital. Felix says give it two weeks and she will do something to mess things up.

Photo: JPI

Just then, in our favorite scene of the week, Nikolas (Marcus Coloma) and Ava (Maura West) happen by, and when Britt, who is Nik’s ex, sees him she saunters over to him and slaps him hard across the face and spits out, “That’s for Spencer.”  She goes on to berate him for how he hurt his son; by letting him believe that his father was dead for three years!  Britt tells Nikolas it would serve him right if Spencer knew spoke to him again.

Next, Elizabeth chimes in and tells Britt to stop acting all high and mighty.  Britt fires back that she is not surprised that Liz, another one of Nik’s ex’s, would defend him.  Britt says, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

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Scene after scene, Kelly Thiebaud has lit up the screen and put the “feisty” back onto the ABC soap opera.  As an actress, Kelly can go from the heavy drama, to the comedic, to the sexy, all with ease.

In the March 30th issue of Soap Opera Digest, Thiebaud said of her return:  “Frank Valentini reached out to me the beginning of the year and mentioned that the writers wanted to bring me back for a bit.  I said,’Of course, I will,  I would love nothing more than that!”‘ I just really connect with Britt and have a blast playing her.”

So let us know, have you been enjoying the return of Kelly as Dr. Britt Westbourne, thus far? What do you think Britt is up to? Comment below.

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Knots Landing favorites: Joan Van Ark (Valene), Michele Lee (Karen) and Donna Mills (Abby)  chat with Michael Fairman in honor of Knots Landing’s 40th anniversary. Leave A Comment

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Kelly Thiebaud as Britt

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Airdate:3-23-2020

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