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Jason Or Not, Here He Comes: Steve Burton Teases His General Hospital Return!

Courtesy/ABC

Courtesy/ABC

Daytime audiences are waiting to see just how Steve Burton will be integrated back into the General Hospital canvas, and just who he will end up playing.

Will he be the original Jason, we all came to know and love, or will he be a different character, or will Port Charles have two different Jason’s as residents?

Burton took to Instagram to share one of his all-time favorite pics of Jason in action while posting this message as a tease to his followers and fans: “One of my favorite shots from the @generalhospitalabc set years ago! Will I play this guy again???? Tune in to see #gh #jasonornot #boom #mustsee

Meanwhile in the latest issue of Soap Opera Digest on sale this week, GH head writers, Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante confirm that Billy Miller is on the canvas and in this upcoming big storyline along with Burton.

Passanante noted: “It’s sort of a great puzzle that requires figuring out. We certainly want to get the most out of it! We know hoe important Steve is to the viewers and to us, and it’s a challenge to figure out how to get the most out of (his return) that we possibly can.

Burton’s first Gh airdate is yet to be revealed.  Stay tuned.

So, Jason or Not? Who will Steve Burton ultimately play when he returns on-air at GH! Share your latest thoughts on the subject in the comment section below!

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Soaphound
Soaphound

Enough about this soaphopper! They act like this is like a Biblical resurrection. To me, he’s a second tier actor who’s been way overhyped. I don’t dislike him, but he gets too much attention. But as long as they keep Billy Miller also, I’ll keep watching.

SZima
SZima

Amen! I was never a fan of Stone Cold Jason and thought he was overhyped, as you said.
Not that I “like” Billy as Jason, but I think that has more to do with his pairing with Kelly/Sam. I don’t care for the couple at all!
I always thought they should have brought Billy on as a new character rather than resurrect Jason. That character wasn’t needed IMHO.

Bonnie
Bonnie

I agree, do not see chemistry between Billy and Kelly. The other two were steamy…their Chinese wedding was my all time favorite.

Billy is fine but…I am ok with Steve being Nickolas. That would be fun, but based on the tweet. It has to be a lame twin thing

Scoma60
Scoma60

Soap Hopper ? LOL You do realize Billy hopped from AMC to YR to GH. Kelly hopped from PC to GH. Laura hopped from Loving to The City to GL to GH. Mo from AMC to GH.

LMAO!

Soaphound
Soaphound

Yes, Scola, I do realize that and there’s nothing wrong with it. But Billy and many others were honest about pursuing other acting jobs, which their contracts don’t always allow enough time for (though some seem more flexible than others). Mr. Burton’s reasons always carry this noble air of spending time with family or pursuing non-acting jobs. I think that’s what annoys me. That, and all the hype. But, I’m sure he’s a nice guy and let’s hope this all leads to a good story for Steve AND Billy fans.

Soaphound
Soaphound

Sorry for the mistyped salutation, Scoma60!

Annalee
Annalee

Ditto!!✊

Max Daddee
Max Daddee

Burton is indeed a soaphopper, very well put, Soaphound! I’m uninterested in what role he plays on the show as long as he isn’t brought in to squeeze out Billy. Jason’s character is much more human and likeable with Billy playing it. Maybe he’ll play Screwball Amy’s brother we’ve been hearing about. That storyline element to the Ask Man Landers plot needs to either move or be buried. Or maybe Steve will play someone whose advice from Man Landers didn’t work out and he’s come to seek revenge. Anything’s possible on this show…

Lin Herz
Lin Herz

I totally agree with Max Daddy. I like the new character of Jason better, and liked him even better before he remembered his previous life. I don’t like Ask Man landers either. It would not be allowed to have that name and too chancey for a police officer. I hope Steve Burton is not Jason.

jaybird369
jaybird369

Soaphound…VERY, VERY WELL PUT!!!!! To me, watching that Steve Burton dude act is like watching paint dry…BEYOND BORING!!!!!

Later.

Melissa
Melissa

I agree with you. I’m a little tired of SB constantly baiting and switching. This whole — I want to spend time with my family and do other projects – crap. Just say I’m moving on to explore other acting options and leave it at that. Was relieved when he left the show. Was disappointed they decided they had to resurrect Jason in the form of Billy. Am really sad SB is returning.

Melissa
Melissa

And worst of all this probably means twitchy Spenelli is going to be brought back to express awe and thrill that Jason is back.

Alexis Gouzoules
Alexis Gouzoules

Please, please PLEASE be my Stone cold! U have been sorrowfully missed. I need my fix!! Been waiting toooooo long!

Amy
Amy

Me too!

Silvana De Nardis
Silvana De Nardis

Me second !

Lynn
Lynn

Me Too!!!! I think Steve and Billy working together would be Fanominal !! But I Have Been Waiting For Him To Come Back Forever! I prefer Steve to be our Jason . 22 years he thrilled us with his acting. We should be Greatful he stayed that long. Now He Is Back. The possibilities are endless!!!

Steve
Steve

Before people start complaining that Billy Miller is being treated unfair, multiple sources are saying he signed a contract extension. So apparently, all are on board.

Amy
Amy

Exactly! Also, I must say I’m quite disappointed in fans for being so cruel. Steve burton created Jason Morgan which in turn gave us 2 decades of fantastic storylines and action! That was my favorite part of GH. Without Steve perfecting this role there would be no billy miller. There would be no jasam, or sason or jarly etc. billy miller was an excellent choice for a Jason Morgan fill in. I love billy miller as well but I don’t know if I can watch Steve play anyone else but Jason.to me he will always be Jason Morgan. I’m hoping for another wacko cassidine story where maybe Helena implanted Jason’s memories into Billy’s Jason explaining why he thinks hes Jason lol it’s totally something Helena would do!

Anyway, I think people need to chill out and wait to see what happens before starting all out fan wars. We’ve had enough of that already

Soaphound
Soaphound

Amy, you said it it better than I could. My suspicions get aroused lately because of Y&R’s recent release of the great Greg Rikaart. It seems no one is immune to the whims of the often out-of-touch writers/producers. As long as Billy is staying too, let’s give it a chance. Who knows, it might be fun.

Lynn
Lynn

Me too! Absolutely! I was getting really Angry!! He is and always will be Jason. They better not get us all hopped up and then him not be Jason. I have been watching since I was 14 with my Grandmother and I will for the 1st time consider tuning out!

amyfoullois
amyfoullois

Jason Morgan is Steve Burton!! Billy Miller is good but not Jason

Chrystie_Delancey
Chrystie_Delancey

I am not surprised. It seems like he has “settled.” It is a shame because he was on fire as Billy Abbott. 🙁

Patrick
Patrick

“thank you” @Chrystie

I love the man…. Billy Miller and Michael Muhney “were” royalty… the crème de la crème of

geez! it seemed like it was all in the cards for the torch and reign to be passed from Victor and Jack to : drum roll… god this was the best thing near ever ! in this day and age of serial. for Billy and Adam to take over and their first ladies respectively: Sharon and Victoria. this was Heaven.

the eyes don’t lie, NO ? you can see it all in his eyes, his body language, his demeanor. heck… the way he delivers his lines with nary an excitement , or stutter, or shout, or laugh.

Yeah, he’s settled. he’s a big part of why GH suffers.

you’d never know… that he was Billy Abbott and a two time emmy winner.

Jada
Jada

The Gh writers have turned Jason into a pathetic sap tjats uses
Words like PREGGERS. Turned
Him into Jelly in more ways than one . Bring back Steve ! Ride or die aspect !

Jada
Jada

“That”

Amy
Amy

I agree! I was happy to have JM back and billy miller is a fine replacement but these writers have turned all the badass characters into wimps! I’m more than happy to have Steve back and I hope he plays Jason and that they don’t mess with jasam again

Chuck
Chuck

You said it all…the ride or die Jason is who we need. Give Billy back the Jake Doe persona and let him figure out who he really is. There’s only one Jason Morgan and that Steve Burton!

Patrick
Patrick

I truly want Billy Miller – OUT – of the Corinthos’ Orbit.

so let Steve Burton be Jason. how stone cold ? old sexy blue eyes with stamina left to hold his gun

yah yah.

thereby Kelly Monaco’ Sam can go back to hiding behind her savior.

Billy Miller and Rebecca Herbst ( Jake Doe and Liz ) can get reacquainted… let that romance start again. Put the Quartermainia on notice…. Jason Quartermaine is coming home. he’s the doctor son… Monica dreamed for her and Alan.. and dear old dad Edward… Lila… on and on.. I can cry

Happy ending… absolutely

everything about GH can be the best… without Sonny and Carly

Jimmy
Jimmy

Regardless of who he plays, I hope the story will be gripping and exciting because up until recently, GH has been pretty bland. Sam shooting Sonny, Spencer’s kidnapping and Valentin’s return have shaken things up, so hopefully the momentum continues with this story. I also hope they find a way to keep both Miller and Burton on the show long-term.

Also, I was wondering, since Jean P was mentioned in the article does that mean she is still writing at GH? When does she wrap up her role, and when do the shows she’s credited on stop airing?

Patrick
Patrick

I readily agree.. that things get shaken up … and one can hope for momentum.

hopes are dashed so fast and so quickly. Spencer returned in the blink of an eye.

all the hype is once again on the floundering he man Corinthos’ . can you believe it , it’s now time AGAIN for Carly to go all banshee.

well f this.

I was looking forward to fan posts who have ready stories … thank this.

Fairman County. are you their

Sherri Shultz
Sherri Shultz

I think he’s going to start out playing one of Garvey’s men and who knows where it will go from there.

Ces
Ces

As long as they keep giving Billy Miller respect & not treat him like a 2nd rate citizen to Burton I’ll see where this goes …. Hope it’s a dream or something in Sam’s mind though. Do we know how long Burton is staying on for?

Connieonnietreanor@gmail.com
Connieonnietreanor@gmail.com

He says a while

Angelface79
Angelface79

I so agree, while Billy Miller has been playing Jason 2.0 as Jason Light. I love him and he has done an awesome job. We know Steve left Y&R because JiFP was let go, so he decided to come home to GH. What ever the plans are for Steve Burton’s return , I am hoping that its a great story, I actually miss ” Stone Cold” because, Sonny needs him , but Steve could certainly come back as that long lost twin, that was being introduced when Roger ( Franco ) first came. Keep in mind It was Heather Webber who delivered Susan Moore’s child. Whomever SB is playing and for how long, I just want it to be great storytelling. GH needs a Win, because Ron C will be doing his thing over at DOOL. Diane crying about Max’s promotion was so on point. It was touching . We will see.

Carrie Nauseda
Carrie Nauseda

Love Steve! Oh how I missed Jason Morgan! Love Stone Cold!

Becca
Becca

Billy is playing Jason the way they want him to. But I’m glad he gets a new character. I’m sure he will totally rock it as long as they don’t put him with Liz.

Jackie Swick
Jackie Swick

If you look at that picture of Steve, his eyes are brown. I think Steve will come back as a new character. Either one of many of Sonny’s enemies or a new mob boss. Which would make me very happy. Billy needs to keep being Jason Morgan, him and Kelly’s chemistry is off the charts. We only need one Jason and that is Billy. Steve left the role as Jason and I do not feel he should be able to walk right back into that role

Brenda
Brenda

No way Steve needs to be Jason not Sonnys enemy what a joke .. Billy should play his twin …

Brenda
Brenda

Omg everybody leave their roles and come back all the soaps , Steve is Jason that’s my man., only one real Jason SB

Becca
Becca

I just want to see Billy get a role worthy of him. He deserves it. Too good to be wasted on this role.

Roxanne
Roxanne

Thank u Jackie! I soo agree. Everyone seems to have forgotten that Steve made his decision a few years ago to leave GH to be with his family. That was pretty devastating to most of his fans. We got through it and wished him well. Then to our surprise he goes to Y&R!! Now he’s coming back and we should all now down and be thankful!!! I say NO.

Tomas Torquemada
Tomas Torquemada

Two dudes + matching black tee shirts = tedium

Anything but the Tale of Two Jasons.

Kevin O.
Kevin O.

TOTALLY agree! Zzzzzz…

Maureen
Maureen

I am too busy still trying to figure out who is whom on these pages to worry who Steve will be portraying. Some are MIA but are they really or are they a twin or doppleganger or entirely new character. Very fond of Rebecca Budig and Kathleen Gati- both of whom I fear are about to bite the dust. No matter what befalls Sonny, no matter how many times he and Carly break up- we all know it will be ok within a matter of weeks. Huge fan bases of Carson, Julexis, Friz, JaSam, – I don’t know all the combined names- I know they flood the phone lines and message boards and twitter- some are on here while others are posting petitions and tweet thousands of tweets to the writers and exec. producers- etc. Does this work? I don’t know. It did not save the cancelled soaps- and still a few convinced AMC and OLTL are so close to a reboot. I don’t see it.
I don’t understand why Jim DePaiva was on GH for a couple of minutes. Loved seeing Diane-always do. It all comes down to the almighty dollar. And plenty has been spent on Burton and others let go to facilitate this. I don’t like this. Only ratings will tell, but for me, the GH ship is being steered in the wrong direction. Nelle and Amy on contract? Because they are new and will work for cheap, I guess. I care not for them and do not think they will grow on me. I find Aunt Stella obnoxious and unneeded.

Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

Do you mean James DePaiva has come and gone already? Who did he play?

Maureen
Maureen

He was a doctor at GH who spoke with Sam about her condition-I believe it was less than five minutes, and only one appearance and gone.

Harry
Harry

Wait, is that it for James DePaiva? I was really hoping he’d play Jeff Webber.
Wow, his tenure was shorter than Anthony Scaramucci’s.

“Though we Had a Minute, Eternity was in it.”

William Shakespeare.

Brenda
Brenda

I hope he comes back as the real stonecold Jason ”
He plays that role to the T …. I like Billy it I think he should play Jason’s brother…..

Remy
Remy

The REAL Jason Campaign begins

Billy Miller was really never Jason, sorry.

Joanne
Joanne

I seem o Romberg Steve and Billy were friends when on Y&R together and Steve had indicated Billy would be a good replacement so I would imagine they as actors ar looking forward to playing that is he or isn’t he dynamic, I am looking forward to it.

Denise pettit
Denise pettit

I Think Steve Burton will Be Sonny Replacement I mean he will Take over sonny Buisness

Lia
Lia

They should not have resigned Miller, if they knew there was a chance of getting Burton back. He IS Jason Quartermaine, and not Miller. He never was and never will be for me. I’ve heard a rumor that SB will be Jason’s twin. My answer to that is BULL…
Susan Moore did not give birth to twins. I watched her carry the baby, and give birth. There was no second child, so if the current writing team change history, I more than likely will not watch on the days that storyline is running. It will be ugly, and I won’t have it.

Erin
Erin

No thanks. The Jason role is already filled. Steve decided to leave, his role is not available anymore. We have a Jason already, we don’t need another one. Didn’t the 2 todds bullshit get OLTL cancelled? Stop with the stunt casting and tighten up the ship you already have.

Reed
Reed

Erin, too funny, loved the post! Although Jason 2.0, or “mumbles” as some have suggested (sorry, don’t usually go there, but also can’t disagree), doesn’t do it for me. While 2.0 has been a very capable, proficient portrayal, I’d still rather have SB in the role. TPTB have a lot riding on this, so it will be interesting to see what they do with it.

Erin
Erin

Thank you for stating your opinion in a respectful way, people have been REALLY nasty lately. I definitely don’t begrudge anyone that prefers Steve. Heck, I was a rabid old school JaSam fan from the start. But for me, Steve chose to leave. I embraced Billy and have been invested in his portrayal for 3 years now. Saying he was never Jason does a ton of harm to the history of JaSam in my eyes, and I am not ok with that. But again, I respect the people that want Steve back as Jason. I just don’t agree. Have a great day!

Becca
Becca

Billy’s voice is deep. I so hate when people talk about the actors personaly. Love Billy Miller and he is a awesome actor.

Reed
Reed

Erin, yes, the GH “Women on the Edge” thread of 7/24 was not the finest moment for a number of us—very bad form! I’ll even retract my “mumbles” comment of earlier because that wasn’t fair. I suspect if I just watched my show without consulting this site, I wouldn’t have these opinions and wouldn’t be viewing with a critical eye to validate the opinions of others. And maybe I should get watching, since I’m still on April episodes! Just watched Sonny call Carly a slut and suggest that she spreads her legs too easily. Not bad, a little crass for daytime, but I liked the edginess.

Here’s hoping we don’t get the “two Todd’s BS” from your original thought. Still among the funnier things I’ve read on here! Keep it up.

gail mattei
gail mattei

i can care less about this right now. Want to know about #Julexis right now!!

Patrick
Patrick

MOST definitely – WIlliam DeVry and Nancy Lee Grahn for the WIN.

Shelley and Frank ! “think outside the box ” let sonny die in that sinkhole of a lesser man

Maggie
Maggie

Nikolas Cassadine’s body has never been found, thus in the soap world he is only presumed dead. Perhaps Steve Burton is going to now play Nikolas? If so then Sam could have delusions that he is really Jason Morgan (while all others ignore that is the character he used to portray). We have been led to believe that Sam is ill from a so far unknown cause. Her delusions could be combination of a physical ailment (her high fever), mental (her Aunt Olivia Jerome was nuts), and heredity (she is a Cassadine descendant).

K/kay
K/kay

I wish he would walk into General Hospital as a new doctor not realizing he is a adopted twin and blow the towns minds now that would be a story worth telling !

Patrick
Patrick

Nice Marquee : you made me laugh and smile at the same time.

all the brouhaha over more mob activity

way to nip it in the bud… can you imagine what Monica would be ?

Patrick
Patrick

argh! I was so impressed with your post.

Marquee this stuff , gavel , spotlight: etc…

“I wish he would walk into General Hospital as a new doctor not realizing he is an adopted twin and blow the towns minds”

this would answer every thing

and we can all relax

if it would mean less interaction with Sonny and Carly. absolutely this^

Cheers

robbie
robbie

Go Fluke yourself, Burton. That is, I smell another disaster of Fluke proportions

Harry
Harry

Ha! Robbie, well said!

JMER
JMER

Boring. It’s not going to bring me back as a viewer.

Timmm
Timmm

Good!

Jimh
Jimh

Im all for more Qs but i was never a Jason fan…when Robin was with Billy Miller’s Jason he obviously looked like Jason until he got run down by that car and turned into NuJason…this is going to be a lot like the two Todds/Victor story on OLTL…imo!!!

Courtney
Courtney

Steve Burton will be Jason Morgan in eyes. I don’t expect anything that that Billy has done as Jason Morgan because of the writers haven’t been writing Jason Morgan since he took the Role. It had nothing to do with Billy acting talent. He just playing Jason. I’m very disappointed in fans that are showing blatant disrespect for Steve Burton who has played the Jason Morgan roll for 21 years. Billy Miller wouldn’t have the chance to play Jason Morgan if Steve didn’t play Jason Morgan. You cannot erase 21 years of history that Jason a.k.a. Stone call was played by Steve Burton. For me Kelly Monaco has more chemistry with Steve Burton then she does with Billy Miller. Billy Miller doesn’t have the connection or family Connection that Steve Burton has with the cast of General Hospital. I don’t feel it and I feel like Kelly Monaco has to carry Billy as Jason Morgan.

Silvana De Nardis
Silvana De Nardis

Well written post !

Timmm
Timmm

Amen sister!

Becca
Becca

That’s your opinion. That was the role they gave Billy. He is very talented. You can only play what they give him. Now one has to carry him. He has three Emmy’s to prove it. GH fault. As far as their chemistry. They are hot together.

Jimmy
Jimmy

To be honest, I just can’t see Steve Burton playing anyone but Jason if they plan to keep him around long-term. I will have a very hard time accepting him as anyone else because he played Jason for SO long, and it’s only been a few years since his exit.

I have a feeling Burton will turn out to be the real Jason who has been kept as a hostage by the Cassadine’s all the time, and Billy Miller will be a brainwashed A.J. who was also kidnapped by the Cassadine’s following his “death,” made to believe he was Jason, and turned into a Cassadine soldier. A.J. was supposedly killed off before Miller joined the show so they never shared screen time together.

Since Robin saw Jason before he had plastic surgery, they could say the switch was made after the accident, or while he was in surgery, and Helena sent her goons to sub in the real Jason for Billy Miller’s “Jason” who was under the bandages.

I think it would be much easier to accept Miller in a new role as opposed to Burton, and it would also create a conflict for Sam as to who she really loves – the Jason from before who she loved or this new “Jason” who is really A.J. that she’s fallen in love with. I also think this would be the easiest way to keep both characters on the show, and also rectify the mistake of killing off A.J. again.

Timmm
Timmm

I like what you say. Have the two brothers rally against Sonny and run PC!

Shay
Shay

Or better yet, Timmmbo, have the QBros rally against Sonny and run him OUT of Port Charles!

Becca
Becca

Heck no. Billy doesn’t need to have that crappy role. I rather him be a little brother that Jason didn’t know he had. As many have pointed out Billy looks a lot younger than Steve. Which he is. 9 years younger.

mike
mike

Billy Miller is 10 times the actor Steve Burton is.

Timmm
Timmm

-10 times!

jaybird369
jaybird369

EXACTLY!!!!!

Dawn D
Dawn D

I’m looking forward to anything they have planned for SB. I miss him on screen! I want a good s/l and he interact’s with BH more then a second or minutes. They are great together on screen.

Aizlyn
Aizlyn

I’m glad Steve is back. I want him to be Jason and for him to have an awesome storyline.

Timmm
Timmm

Well, Jean and Shelly had an AMAZING puzzle of a story on Y&R, “The Music Box” and it went down as one of the worst story-lines EVER! Newly hired head writer Sally Sussman cleaned that crap of a story up in ONE day!

Ghlover
Ghlover

Me thinks Griffen will find Jason the priest

Linda
Linda

I prefer Miller as Jason as he is a better actor. Will they resurrect the old OLTL storyline of the two Todds?

Becca
Becca

I love Billy Miller. You can tell he’s younger than Steve. Just treat Billy good. He is friends with Kelly and they love love working together. They hang out off screen.

Donna
Donna

I think that Steve Burton is going to play a doctor of some sort. (This is something I can live with). Perhaps he’ll play Sam’s doctor. I sure hope that he can help Sam get out of this funk that she’s in because her character is very hard to watch recently. And I really want Billy Miller to stay and continue being Jason because he’s doing a great job in that role.

dmr
dmr

I always wanted Jason to remember his Quartermaine roots and become a doctor (originally, he was going to medical school). The hospital needs more doctors. However, I’ll take less Monotone Sam..

Becca
Becca

He’s awesome actor. He needs the chance to shine

Dee
Dee

Enough with Steve Burton! I didn’t miss him when he left, Billy Miller has been a welcome change. Don’t know why the Producers have an obsession with him?

Breaking News

Brandon Barash Replaces Tyler Christopher At DAYS

According to reports from Soap Opera Digest and Daytime Confidential, former General Hospital favorite Brandon Barash has temporarily replaced Tyler Christopher, in the role of Stefan DiMera at Days of our Lives.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Brandon played mobster Johnny Zacchara on GH from 2007-2016.

Because DAYS tapes well in advance; look for Barash to hit the air sometime in early 2019.

What are your thoughts on Brandon as temp replacement for Tyler as Stefan O? Comment below.

Continue Reading

Breaking News

GH’s Maurice Benard Takes On Role Of John Gotti In Upcoming Lifetime Movie

Who better to use their mobster experience playing the iconic role of Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital, and put it to good use, when taking on the role of a real-life mobster than Daytime Emmy winner, Maurice Benard?

As revealed over the past weekend, Maurice Benard is hard at work filming a Lifetime Movie based on the life of Victoria Gotti called “The Victoria Gotti Story”.

Sharing the news via his social media, Benard expressed: “Thank you lifetime and everyone involved 4 a Beautiful opportunity.”

Recently, John Travolta played the notorious New York mobster in the movie Gotti released earlier this year.

The infamous Gotti, had a wife and a daughter both named Victoria.  So as to which point of view the film is focusing on is yet to be released.

So what do you think of the casting of Maurice as John Gotti? Intrigued to see the Lifetime Movie when it debuts? Comment below

Continue Reading

General Hospital

General Hospital’s Max Gail Opens Up On Portraying Mike’s Battle With Alzheimer’s & Making A Difference In People’s Lives

“What happens the day I wake up, and you guys are the strangers,” says Mike to his son, Sonny and his wife Carly (Laura Wright). “I left you before to my everlasting regret, but it’s going to happen. I’d do anything if I didn’t have to do it again, but it’s going to happen – one way or the other.  At least this way I could leave some good feelings, instead of disappearing before your eyes.”  Those words were said during a gut-wrenching scene on Friday’s episode of General Hospital, as Mike tries to come to terms with his deteriorating mental state in his battle with Alzheimer’s, and the hard realization that he may be better off in a care facility, instead of at his son’s home.  These scenes, as all the scenes in this storyline, have been exquisitely played by Max Gail (Mike) and Maurice Benard (Sonny).

When Max Gail arrived on the GH canvas as the recast Mike Corbin in a role made soap-famous by Ron Hale, viewers did not know what to initially expect.  What they did know was that Max is an accomplished actor with a body of work from primetime dramas and comedies, film, and the stage, and that if he is coming to GH, he must be coming on board for something major.  Before GH, suffice to say, Gail is most remembered for his role as “Wojo” on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller that aired from 1975-1982.

In story on GH, Mike, who abandoned Sonny as a child, once again re-enters his son’s life, but soon we learn that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and that the soap is tackling a story that is an important medical, social, and familial issue of our time.

Gail has been a revelation in this role.  A clear frontrunner for an Emmy, playing the facets, the levels, the characteristics, and the heartbreak of a person who is slowly losing everything they know near and dear to them, as in the end they are ultimately stripped of their dignity from this most horrific of diseases.

On a personal note, and as part of this conversation with Max, it was important for him and for me to share, that I lost my mother at the end of April of this year to Alzheimer’s.  So his work hits close to home, this story hits close to home, as it has also resonated for many viewers who have shared their stories on social media and when Max makes personal appearances.

Here now is this very special interview for Michael Fairman TV with an actor whom we can all agree is touching all of our lives.

You’re portraying a person suffering from Alzheimer’s and play the progression of the disease.  Do you feel pressure as an actor to get it right for those who have loved ones, or person’s afflicted with it?

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  It’s more like an urge, or a calling to find some kind of truth in it that I can connect with.  One of the things I’m inclined towards showing is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia often just drifts off somewhere else.  “Where am I going?”  This has happened to me many times in life.  For instance, when I was a youngster, I can remember getting in my car, and I’d driven a long way from some party or something like that, and I’d been drinking, and I didn’t remember it.  I knew I’d gotten home somehow.  So, it’s not out of my realm.  I’ve learned that there are no set behaviors really… other than that it usually ends up being really difficult for caretakers, and seemingly really painful for many, if not most people suffering with Alzheimer’s, and losing connection and losing the ability to just function.  We are kind of on the cusp of that in story at GH.  I think it was originally proposed that I would play the part for just a few months, and to give me an out if it wasn’t working.  Maybe, there was a placeholder idea to ship Mike off to a home or something, but the storyline has touched so many people that it has been continuing.

The story has been so effective.  You’ve done such an amazing job, and the fans love Mike and what you’re doing with the character, and they’re on board on this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how far they will take this with Mike.  Will we actually see him not being able to communicate anymore?  How far will the writers go to show the horrific aspects of Alzheimer’s? 

MAX:  I’m not sure.  You know, I’ve had times where I’ve got the scene, I get the writers, and I get the heart of it.  Other times, I find where that transition is from where Mike is lucid and clear, and other times what that state of mind is and that switch is, and what that is in behaviors and energy level.  I think there’s an ongoing downturn for Mike, and for me as an actor finding something in the moment and finding how it works with things that he does remember.  They’re trying to find a place for Mike within all of the interwoven drama of General Hospital.  I, frankly, had no idea how complex the range of storylines was.  Mike doesn’t really have control over his story.  I don’t want that as an actor.  Mike has some intentions that are really important to him.  I’m trying to find that balance where there are times when he has a pathetic, very sad remorse about what he has missed.  I think that underlies his feelings for his son, who he never could quite reach, because of his own failings as a father.  Sonny’s formative experiences growing up were then with his abusive stepdad.  Finding all of that is really important to do in a way that doesn’t make Mike just this sweet older man with Alzheimer’s.   It’s a wonderful challenge to be presented with.

Courtesy/CBS

You brought up that Mike is seemingly very sweet in his demeanor now.  My mother, who I shared with you died a few months ago from Alzheimer’s was a strong-willed, feisty woman.  As the disease took hold of her, she became very sweet.   She became almost childlike.  The fire had gone out of her eyes.  You knew she didn’t know who you were, and so, all of that, as you know is so tough to witness as her son.  In terms of Mike and his ultimate care, everyone says they love him and want what is best for him, but that he needs to be taken care of because he gets confused, doesn’t know where he is sometimes. etc.  Sonny has been grappling with putting him in a care facility to be looked after, or to keep him with the Corinthos family under their roof.  However, Mike has come to a realization that he may need to be in facility all on his own, and doesn’t want to burden his son by living with him anymore.  That was a poignant moment, and another one of the best scenes has been when Mike couldn’t remember that Sonny was his own son. 

MAX:  Right and he doesn’t know if he’s around friends or around enemies.  This can be true of Alzheimer’s patients.

I had that happen with my mother when she came out to Los Angeles to see me for the last time.  She was out of her element, she was confused, and she broke down and cried in the hotel room.  She asked my father, “Why did you bring me here?” and he told her, “We came to see our son.”  It was heartbreaking.   Later, she had a moment of clarity and realized more of what was going on.  I think it’s those in-and -out moments that you portray so well on-screen.  I feel that they are very realistic to what I, and others, have experienced.

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  I appreciate that and sharing that with me, because you never know as an actor.  That place of “Where am I?  What is this?” makes me think of that “Summer Wind” moment from the Nurses’ Ball when it wasn’t just, “I’m embarrassed.  I don’t remember the words.”  It was, “I don’t know where the f**k I am.  I thought there was a band there, but there’s not.”  So, in a way, I just had to be there on this big soundstage and just feel this big space around me.  I could barely see that there were people out there.  It’s kind of a terrifying thing to a lot of people, but I think Mike has something in him that makes him want to be okay with all of this.  He doesn’t have to freak out and get accusatory.

Courtesy/ABC

What has it been like working with Maurice Benard as your on-screen son?  Do you watch back your scenes together and ever go, “Oh, that was great!?”

MAX:  Yes, there have been a lot of those!  There are some scenes that are so emotionally focused, and we get a lot of delight in each other.  He has been playing this character in this situation for so long, so it’s just kind of in him.  Maurice has presence.  I think when I went in to read for the part of Mike, I had gone through pilot season and had gone in for some interesting pilots.  I didn’t feel like I was really connecting in the readings, because most things are by tape these days, anyway.  When this part came up, a soap hadn’t really been on my radar.  I knew I’d be going in to read with the actor, so I said, “Okay,” and I looked at the material, and then I checked out Maurice on IMDB.  One of the things that got my interest was that he has been diagnosed and takes medication to deal with bipolar disorder, and that’s become a part of his life, and it’s become part of his character.  I thought, “Wow, that’s really interesting.  This is a survivor, and he’s risen to something that takes a certain kind of balance and courage.”  I watched some clips, and when I went in for the reading of this kind of an amalgamation scene of what the story elements were going to be, I felt like we connected before we’d even started the dialogue.

Well, Maurice certainly loves working with you! He has been very supportive and vocal about that.

MAX:  It’s mutual.  We can take really little simple moments, and we can find something deeper in it, and it doesn’t have to be an, ‘I’m going to start crying now’ moment.  Although, I would love for Mike to have a moment of self-observation where he goes, “Gee.  I cry a lot more than I used to.”  I think there are people who are like that, and it’s okay for certain people to cry, and for other people it is not.

Courtesy/ABC

There was a part of my mom that knew something was wrong.  She’d go, “Why am I crying?  I don’t know why I’m crying.”  She got confused as to why she was feeling that.  She couldn’t connect it all, and at times she kept saying, “I don’t understand.  I don’t understand.”  Those were the things she would try to express.

MAX:  I have a feeling that Mike has those moments too, but he finds a way for it to be okay.  There may be a point where someone with Alzheimer’s can’t pull it off anymore, but how we find those and those specifics, I don’t know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Working on a classic sitcom such as Barney Miller is vastly different than working on a daytime soap opera.  While now being at GH, have you found any commonality within the experience?

MAX:  If I can take a moment and reflect on Barney Miller, because it was a great experience and one that I found was not so easy to find again over the years.  One of the things that really resonates is that when we started shooting the studio audience laughed too easily.  We would end up retaking the scenes.  Sometimes, we didn’t have the end of the show written, because they tended to let certain things start to show up in the earlier parts of the script.  Danny Arnold who was the writer, creator and producer of Barney Miller would always take over the way Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) does in a way … looking to be respectful of the director, but still seeing things on his own.  Frank has a really wonderful eye.  He’s much more connected into the overall storylines, the motivations that went into the writing, and what he sees in the moment.  I always welcome him on the set because the directors, who have a range of talents and sensibilities, are tasked with coming up with a whole lot of shots to cover, a whole lot of tricky angles, and all of that.

Courtesy/ABC

Vernee Watson has been amazing as Stella, who is also Mike’s social worker.  Does Mike have romantic feelings toward Stella?

MAX:  Vernee is wonderful.  I didn’t know Vernee had been on the show when I came on board.  She won an Emmy, and I’m not surprised.   She is so present and so specific, and she’s very bright and gets what all of these elements are, and so, I think they have a connection.  For whatever ways Mike has lived in his like, there isn’t some strange, exotic draw that she is black, and Mike is white.  I like that because both my first and late wife, and my second wife, with whom I’ve had children (and we’ve been separated for awhile, but have a great relationship) are African-American.  So, in my world that is not a big deal.   I think there’s an affinity there between Mike and Stella.  You know, he’s alive.  He’s old, but he’s not dead.  There’s an ease with women he likes.  I think there are a whole lot of reasons for them to not get involved.  One is just professional, and she’s a social worker.  We just shot something where I say something to somebody else about, “back when I still had all my marbles,” you know, he’s in another stage of life, which many people go into gracefully, while many don’t.

 

What do you think about how Mike knows about who was buried at Charlie’s Pub?  He was trying to keep the truth about Charlie Delaney from coming out, which turned into a gas leak that blew up the bar!  This storyline ties in to Sonny’s mobster dealings as well.

MAX:  Well, this is where they put this effort in the storytelling to connect Mike in some way and be intertwined with Sonny.  Of course, it reveals certain things about Mike that he’s never revealed to anybody before.  So, that’s kind of cool.  I think when he knows what and how much sometimes is not clear.  That’s why I started talking about Barney Miller because the other thing was a lot of times when we go together for the table reads, they didn’t have the end of the story.  They had a first draft, maybe. Dan would talk about it, and they’d say, “Next week, the main story is going to be this man in his fifties who is coming to terms with the fact that he is gay,” or whatever those underlying themes may be with the different characters reactions.  So, we knew elements going into it and that sometimes I  didn’t know what the writers are really intending.  In terms of Mike, he’s kind of back and forth in certain moments.  I have to resist the idea that they trap me by just being careless.  I’ve learned that just trying to fix the script often gets you into a place where you “rehearse yourself out of it,” as they say.

Courtesy/GoodDayLA

You appeared on the morning show Good Day LA  a few months back with Laura Wright (Carly), and Maria Shriver, who has founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.  What was that like meeting Maria, and helping get the word out about the effects of this disease and the work Maria is doing?

MAX:  It was great to do.  Maria had sent out a tweet that is was wonderful what was going on, on General Hospital.  On Good Day LA, she talked about her work, particularly focusing on the fact that more women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men.  So, then Laura and I sat down and did an interview alongside Maria.  We actually had a nice conversation before.  They did a web interview also as a follow-up.  That was very cool, because Maria is very smart, and I’d never met her, but it was great to see what she was doing.  Whatever we are dealing with in the show is sort of my opportunity in the real world to bring awareness and shed light on the subject.  I’d love to see an ongoing conversation online amongst people who can share their stories with each other.  That’s a lot of what they’re doing.  They’re raising money for research, but people need to be able to talk to each other when you’re a caregiver.  Coming out of the early sixties and early seventies when I was playing a cop on TV, I never was a fanatic activist.  I certainly got the behavior of the Chicago police at a certain time in terms of the energy and conflicts of the time.  There was something to think about, but at the same time, I had opportunities to kind of share that all cops aren’t bad, just look at the show, Barney Miller.

Courtesy/ABC

You were my favorite character on Barney Miller as Detective Wojciehowicz!  I think for many who watched the show you were, too!

MAX:  I think “Wojo” ended up being the heart of the show.

Max, you’re helping people through your beautiful performances including me.  Congratulations on that.   I’ll continue have to have a box of Kleenex handy as I watch how it all unfolds for Mike.

Photo: IMDB

MAX:  Well, I really appreciate your questions.  I’m just planting that seed.  That is really what I would like to do after talking to you and so many people.  That’s something I’d like to put out there.   We each have our own domains and responsibilities and all of it overlaps, and you can kind of get in touch with that; if you just go around the circle and share it, and then go around again.  I’m looking to help people out there in the world who are watching and are looking to share in the conversation.

So, what did you think about the heartbreaking scenes on Friday’s episode of GH between Mike and Sonny?  What have you thought of Max Gail’s performance throughout his GH run?  Have you experienced the loss, or are watching someone you love, or care about slip away from Alzheimer’s?  Share your thoughts via the 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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