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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?

Breaking News

Check In To GRAND HOTEL! Premiere Date Announced Featuring Bryan Craig, Richard Burgi, Denyse Tontz & Eva Longoria

2019 is bringing it with some major soapy dramas.  And this one has been much talked about, and looking quite alluring.  It features some former soap opera notables in key roles.

We’re talking about ABC’s Grand Hotel which has finally announced its premiere date, but fans will have to wait till the summer for its debut.  Circle Monday night, June 17th.  Grand Hotel will air immediately following  episodes of the new season of The Bachelorette.

General Hospital Daytime Emmy-winner, Bryan Craig (Ex-Morgan Corintjos) take on the role of  playboy Javi, his sister Paloma is played by former All My Children reboot actress, Denyse Tontz (Ex-Miranda Montgomery).  In addition, soap vet Richard Burgi (last seen as Paul Hornsby on GH) takes on the role of Michael Finn, a charming businessman who spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e for the Mendoza family, and series EP, Eva Longoria (Ex-Isabella, Y&R) also guest stars as Beatriz a former owner of the hotel.

The series loglines from ABC reveal: “Grand Hotel is a bold provocative drama set at the last family-owned hotel in multicultural Miami Beach. Charismatic Santiago Mendoza (Demian Bichir) owns the hotel, while his glamorous second wife, Gigi (Roselyn Sanchez), and their adult children enjoy the spoils of success. The hotel’s loyal staff round out a contemporary, fresh take on an upstairs/downstairs story. Wealthy and beautiful guests bask in luxury, but scandals, escalating debt and explosive secrets hide beneath the picture-perfect exterior.”

In case you missed it, check out the first look trailer for the series first posted in May for the ABC upfronts.   Then let us know, are you excited to see Bryan in his new primetime series?  Do you think this premise has all the making of some juicy primetime soap viewing? Comment below.

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WATCH THE REPLAY: GH Facebook Live With Maurice Benard & Laura Wright

If you missed Wednesday’s GH Facebook Live event featuring Maurice Benard (Sonny) and Laura Wright (Carly) you can watch the replay below.

During the 35-minute broadcast, Michael Fairman chatted with the Daytime Emmy-winning duo about the latest storylines involving Sonny and Carly including: the Alzheimer’s storyline centering around Sonny’s dad, Mike (Max Gail), what will happen with Margaux (Elizabeth Hendrickson) and Sonny’s relationship, and if Carly will figure out that Kevin (Jon Lindstrom) is stashed away at Ferncliff, and that his twin brother Ryan is masquerading as him while murdering people in Port Charles.

In addition, Maurice and Laura talk about memorable scenes and moments throughout their time on the ABC daytime drama series, and episodes that are included in the “Sonny and Carly Collection” streaming now at ABC.com and on the ABC app.  Laura did talk about taking over the pivotal role following in the shoes of fan favorites, Sarah Brown and Tamara Braun.

Maurice and Laura also talked about their upcoming projects.  Laura’s premieres tomorrow night on Lifetime when she is seen in Stalked by My Patient, while Maurice will soon be seen in Victoria Gotti: My Father’s Daughter. 

Check it out below and let us know what was your favorite part of the Facebook live, and what you think will happen in the key storylines involving Sonny and Carly as we move into 2019 via the comment section.

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TODAY: General Hospital’s Maurice Benard and Laura Wright Chat It Up On Facebook Live

In a very special GH Facebook Live, Maurice Benard (Sonny) and Laura Wright (Carly) are set to talk about the relationship between Sonny and Carly, what’s happening in story for the duo at the moment, and the Sonny & Carly Collection featuring 20 episodes throughout the 20-year relationship of this torrid love affair available now via ABC.com and the ABC app.

The action begins at 10:30amPST/1:30pmpst via facebook.com/generalhospital.

Joining Maurice and Laura will be Michael Fairman who will be moderating the live event.

Make sure to send in your questions and they just may be asked on-air during the broadcast.

Now let us know what has been your favorite Carly and Sonny moment throughout the years? Share your thoughts or questions via the comment section below.

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GH icon Genie Francis chats with Michael Fairman about her return to the soap as Laura after being taken off-contract earlier this year. Leave A Comment

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