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"GL's" former EP, Ellen Wheeler on cancellation, production model and Otalia!

Ellen-wheeler.jpg“GL’s” now former executive producer Ellen Wheeler chatted with TV Guide Magazine’s Michael Logan in a new interview out today.  Wheeler gives insight into her thoughts on how “GL” ended, what befell the longest running show, Otalia’s storyline, and this banter below between the interviewee and the reporter! In the conversation, Logan talks to Wheeler about the new production model. Wheeler says it was done for budgetary constraints but Logan is quick to point out that this former EP, said something different in 2008 on the matter.   Here is the excerpt below!

The new production model obviously didn’t save GL but do you think other soaps will in any way benefit from what happened here?
I think we achieved a level of nuance and naturalism that is to be admired. But I want to stop you: That’s a little bit of a misnomer there, because [the production model] did save GL for a year and a half.

I’ve seen you quoted elsewhere saying that same thing, and I don’t get it. When this new production model was launched I clearly remember it being promoted as a way to move GL into the future, using information culled from research groups about what today’s viewers want to see on their soaps. It was not stated that the show would be cancelled if you didn’t go with this production model.
I can tell you absolutely that it kept the show on the air. We could not have stayed in the [previous] model with the budget cuts that came down, so something had to change. And the change was going to have to be drastic and enormous. I’m not saying it had to be this exact model, but this was the one we came up with and we had to come up with it pretty quickly. But without taking those budget cuts we were going to be cancelled.

[Logan note: Okay, I’m not that nuts! I went back and looked at my interview with Wheeler in the February 25, 2008 issue of TV Guide Magazine, in which she told me that the switch to the new production model followed a two-year viewer research project conducted by Procter & Gamble. Here’s what she said: “Our audience has been very clear to us. They don’t like the nonreality of soaps—the fake grass, the fact that people in Springfield never seem to go to work or actually do their jobs or take care of their children. They want the stories and characters they love but with the same sense of reality they get from Grey’s Anatomy and other nighttime shows.” Wheeler then ended the interview with: “This is not a desperate survival move. This is a creative, financially efficient way to move soap operas into the future. GL has always led the way.”]

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Cynthia Watros Replaces Michelle Stafford As GH’s Nina Reeves

Another big name is headed to the cast of General Hospital on the heels of the upcoming departure of Michelle Stafford.  Daytime Emmy winner, Cynthia Watros had been cast as the the new Nina Reeves.  Fans of Guiding Light remember her star turn as Annie Dutton, and she was last see on on daytime in the role of Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless (2013-2014).

As previously reported, Daytime Emmy winner, Michelle Stafford is headed back to her old stomping grounds of The Young and the Restless to play her signature soap role of Phyllis Summer.  She will replace her own recast, Daytime Emmy winner, Gina Tognoni.  Both actresses are said to be finishing taping their current runs on their respective shows in May. Watros will begin her GH run in Port Charles in June,

GH’s EP Frank Valentini tweeted on today’s casting news: “It’s a bittersweet day. I love @TheRealStafford and wish her all the best. I’m also really excited about @watroswatros joining the #GH family and continuing Nina’s legacy.”

PEOPLE.com broke the casting change.  Stafford has been with GH since 2014.  As for Watros, she opted to leave her role on Y&R to join the cast of MTV’s Finding Carter.  She is also known for her run on the hit ABC drama, Lost and other notable primetime series and films.

Michelle Stafford’s on-screen GH love interest, James Patrick Stuart, tweeted on the news: “Cynthia Watros … Big fan.”

So, what do you think of the casting of Cynthia Watros as the new Nina Reeves? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Matt Bomer Says His Upcoming Guest Appearance On Will & Grace Is A “Dream Come True”

Now this ought to be good!  Former Guiding Light alum (where he played Ben Reade), and motion picture, theatre and TV star, Matt Bomer has been cast in the new season of NBC’s hit comedy Will & Grace!

Matt will take on the role of a smooth-talking, self-absorbed TV news anchor who will play a love interest of Eric McCormack’s, Will.

In addition to Bomer, the episode will feature Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, who is also set to be one of the judges in the upcoming Dancing with the Stars: Juniors edition, and Minnie Driver who reprises her role of Lorraine Finster, the arch-nemesis of Karen (Megan Mullally).

Upon the release of the news of his casting on Will & Grace, Bomer took to his social media and tweeted, “Dream come true!”

The new season of Will & Grace bows on October 4th.

So, what do you think of Bomer as a love interest for Will?  Will you be checking out the episode when the airdate is announced? Comment below.

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LISTEN TO THE REPLAY: Soap Nation Live! With Laura Wright, Jason Thompson, Michael Easton, Maurice Benard, Stacy Haiduk & Kim Zimmer

If you missed Thursday night’s season premiere of Soap Nation Live! with Michael Fairman it was a broadcast full of surprises, fun, and intriguing intel as some of the biggest names in the soap opera genre helped kick-off the series 2018 run of episodes.

Joining Michael in-studio as guest co-host was General Hospital’s Laura Wright (Carly Corinthos).  The show began with a guest call-in to surprise Laura, which was revealed to be daytime drama icon, and four-time Daytime Emmy winner, Kim Zimmer (Ex-Reva) of Guiding Light.  Laura and Kim worked together on the beloved CBS soap where they played sisters.  Kim expressed how much she enjoys checking out General Hospital and the actors performances she has loved watching which included: Max Gail (Mike), and the recently exited Nelle (Chloe Lanier), among others.  Michael, Laura, and Kim bantered on the actresses time on GL and more.

Next, GH’s Michael Easton (Finn) joined the show where he discussed the release of his upcoming 20th anniversary edition of his book 18 Straight Whiskeys, working on GH opposite Finola Hughes (Anna) and Jessica Tuck (Cassandra).  During his segment, Michael Fairman asked Easton to play a game show segment he prepared for him, which was called, “Michael, Who Said That?” In it, Michael Easton had to guess which one of his many soap characters was he portraying in the scene in the audio clip, and it made for one of the highlights of the night.

Calling in from New York City was Stacy Haiduk, who is about to make her debut this week on the August 21st of Days of our Lives as Susan Banks, replacing Eileen Davidson in the role.  Susan is back on the canvas just as John and Marlena’s wedding is about to begin.  The question is: Will more of Davidson’s roles be played by Haiduk during her upcoming rum on the show?  We chatted with Stacy about working on DAYS, and taking over the one-of-a-kind role of Susan made soap-famous by Emmy winner, Davidson.

Then, The Young and the Restless, Jason Thompson (Billy Abbott) was our special guest in the studio.  Jason talked about Billy’s latest stumble back into his gambling addiction, Phyllis’ fling with Nick, and if Billy will be able to resist the seduction attempts by Phyllis’ daughter, Summer on upcoming episodes.  Jason fielded several questions from fans who called-in to chat with him during his segment.  As well, throughout the broadcast, several listeners were able to get through the busy phone lines to pose a question to our guests.

Michael surprised the listeners with none other than Maurice Benard (Sonny) of General Hospital as the last guest on the show.  Maurice was celebrating his 25th anniversary as Sonny on the ABC daytime drama series.  With Maurice, some of the funniest moments of the night occurred when Jason and Laura recounted what happened the first time they met him.  Maurice also expressed that this past week, he taped some of his most favorite scenes of all-time, and Laura said they have been very emotional.  As announced, look for a special Sonny-centric episode in September in honor of Benard’s 25 years as Port Charles’ top mobster.

Finally, one lucky caller won a pair of tickets to the GH Fantasy Event in Atlanta, Georgia, during our game show trivia segment, when he had the correct answers (with an assist from Jason Thompson) to the questions.

Now, click on the play button at the top left of the player at the top of this post, and hear the replay of the Soap Nation Live! Season Premiere with Laura Wright, Kim Zimmer, Michael Easton, Stacy Haiduk, Jason Thompson, and Maurice Benard.

If you want to hear past episodes of the show, click here.

Let us know in the comment section below what was your favorite part of the season premiere.

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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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