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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.


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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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.

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

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.

Su is a man, by the way.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!

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.


su0000 only watches GH and Y&R.

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!

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

(WATCH) 51st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Winners Interviews

Last Friday night at the 51st annual Daytime Emmy Awards, many of the daytime drama series and performer winners took to the ‘Winners Walk’ to share their reactions on taking home the gold in their respective categories.

Speaking with Michael Fairman TV were: Outstanding Lead Actress winner, Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, The Young and the Restless), Outstanding Lead Actor, Thorsten Kaye (Ridge, The Bold and the Beautiful) along with friend and former B&B co-star, Alley Mills (ex-Pam, now Heather, GH), and his daughter McKenna, who attended the ceremonies with her dad.

In addition, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Daytime Drama Series, Robert Gossett (Marshall, General Hospital) stopped by to celebrate his win, as did Outstanding Supporting Actress, Courtney Hope (Sally, The Young and the Restless).

Photo: NATAS

General Hospital won both Outstanding Directing Team in a Daytime Drama Series and Outstanding Writing for a Daytime Drama Series, and both former co-head writers, Dan O’Connor and Chris Van Etten, spoke to us following their victories, as did the Directing team led by Robert Markham, Tina Keller and Allison Reames.

The Young and the Restless icon star, Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman) along with her husband, The Bold and the Beautiful’s producer Edward J. Scott were the recipients of the Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award honors, and spoke on what it was like to take the stage and deliver their acceptance speeches after the moving tribute from many of their colleagues.

Photo: NATAS

Make sure to check out our red carpet interviews from soap’s biggest night and all the winners conversations via You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel.

Now, watch our 2024 Daytime Emmy winners interviews below.  Then, let us know who you were most happy to see taking home an Emmy for their work via the comment section.

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General Hospital

Bryan Craig Teases ‘Who Could It Be’ in Response to General Hospital’s Returning Mystery Man

Since General Hospital’s executive producer, Frank Valentini dropped a major bombshell of what’s to come on the long-running daytime drama at the 51st annual Daytime Emmy Awards, the guessing games have begun of just what former GH actor is returning to the cast this summer.

Speaking with ABC’s On The Red Carpet, as previously reported, Valentini shared, “A former cast member is coming back. And I think that the audience will go crazy for HIM.”

That has led to major online speculation that it could be anyone from: Jonathan Jackson (ex-Lucky), Greg Vaughn (ex-Lucky), Ted King (ex-Lorenzo Alcazar), Nicholas Chavez (ex-Spencer), and Bryan Craig (ex-Morgan) among others, that might be the gentlemen being referenced.

Photo: JPI

On Wednesday, responding to a post on the subject from Soap Opera Digest, Bryan Craig commented, “Who could it be ….”  Now, clearly he can just be having some fun with the situation to throw fans off-track, or he might be giving us a tease of what’s to come.

Before exiting GH, the actor won two Daytime Emmys for his performances as Morgan Corinthos in 2016 and 2017.  Craig appeared on GH from 2013-2016 and made a return in 2018. Since departing GH, Bryan has appeared most recently in Freeform’s Good Trouble and ABC’s Grand Hotel, plus several independent films.

The character of Morgan was killed-off the show when Olivia Jerome set a bomb that exploded in the car that Morgan got into, but was meant to kill Olivia’s brother Julian Jerome. Morgan’s death caused a huge split in the relationship of Carly and Sonny.

So, do you think Bryan Craig is just having fun with the audience, or do you think it’s possible he is the big return Frank Valentini is talking about? Comment below.

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General Hospital

General Hospital Daytime Emmy-Winning Directing Team Remembers Johnny Wactor: “He Came to Set Every Day with a Smile of Gratitude and a Love-Filled Hug for Everybody”

It has been a rough year and a half for the General Hospital family losing so many beloved cast members and producer, Nneka Garland.  Now, the Daytime Emmy-winning directing team has spoken out about the emotional toll it has taken on everyone associated with the show, and most recently, with the heartbreaking murder of Johnny Wactor (Ex-Brando Corbin).

The actor was shot back in the wee hours of the morning on May 25th by a masked gunman who was part of three car thieves trying to steal the catalytic converter from Wactor’s vehicle. Johnny came upon the scene after he finished his bartending shift in downtown Los Angeles and was walking a co-worker to their cars.

Last Friday at the 51st annual Daytime Emmy Awards, GH was named Outstanding Directing Team for a Daytime Drama Series. Following their on-stage victory, the group stopped by to chat with Michael Fairman TV on the Winners Walk.

Photo: NATAS

Directors Robert Markham, Tina Keller, Allison Reames and the rest of the award-wining directing team, shared in the joy of their victory, but it was not lost on them the seriousness of the moment as well.

Tina Keller expressed, “It’s been a rough year, and it’s been really rough for General Hospital recently with Johnny.” Keller, along with Robert Markham recalled what it was like working with Wactor.

“He came to set every day with a smile of gratitude and a love-filled hug for everybody,” shared Keller. “I’ve never worked with anyone who was so much light-filled and happy to be where he was. Just so much gratitude and joy and it’s a tremendous loss for his friends, his family, and anyone who loved him.” An emotional Robert Markham confirmed what Keller shared,  “Yeah, absolutely. He was a gentleman. He really was, and we’re going to miss him.”


GH paid tribute to Wactor in the final moments of the Tuesday, June 11th episode with a title card in remembrance of the slain actor. A march in Los Angeles is scheduled for this morning, Wednesday, June 12th, to City Hall for a call for change to clean up the streets of LA from crime, to help find Wactor’s killer.

The directing team took home the gold in the Directing for a Daytime Drama Series category, in part, due to the episode they submitted surrounding the memorial of Epiphany Johnson played by the late Sonya Eddy, who passed away back in December of 2022. The second episode they submitted was when Anna’s (Finola Hughes) house was set on fire.

Photo: ABC

Keller spoke to directing the memorial episode that was so heartfelt and raw as performed by the cast that knew and loved Sonya Eddy. “You know, it was a beautiful day to be able to pay tribute to Sonya and it was a rollercoaster all day,” shared Tina.

“We had our cast giving tributes to her and they all did such a beautiful job. It was well-written and a rough day emotionally, but it was an honor to be able to play a tribute to somebody who’s been such an important role in General Hospital throughout the history of the show,” Keller concluded.

You can check out the entire conversation with the Daytime Emmy-winning Directing team from General Hospital below. Make sure to visit the Michael Fairman Channel for full coverage of the red carpet and Winners Walk with interviews from daytime’s biggest night.

Now, let us know, what you thought of the winning GH Emmy episode submissions and the heartfelt words from the directors on the death of Johnny Wactor and the loss of Sonya Eddy via the comment section.

Anyone with information regarding the shooting death of Johnny Wactor is urged to contact LAPD Detectives Gonzales or Martinez at Central Bureau Homicide at (213) 996-4142. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to (877) LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go to

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