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‘Superstar’ Series Profiles Elizabeth Taylor: “I Know I’ve Had an Extraordinary Life, It’s Like A Soap Opera, Filled with Great Passion”

Photo: ABC

When iconic Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor wanted to be on General Hospital, and part of the 80’s massive pop culture of the show, of course, then executive producer, Gloria Monty, found a way to create a role that would become enormously famous.

Taylor was cast as the vengeful Helena Cassadine, the revenge-filled widow of Mikkos Cassadine and made her first appearance on November 10, 1981.

Then on November 16, 1981 Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura’s (Genie Francis) featuring Taylor, became the highest-rated hour in American soap opera history when over 30 million viewers tuned-in. Elizabeth’s last appearance as Helena aired on November 19, 1981.  Later, Constance Towers took over the role when Helena returned to cause more trouble for the citizens of Port Charles in 1997, and has been on and off GH since that time.

At one point, it was rumored that Tony Geary and Taylor had a fling, which years later was put to bed  Geary once told reporters, “So Elizabeth calls me and she says: ‘Tony? I hear you told People Magazine that we didn’t sleep together. That’s the worst thing that anyone has ever said about me.'”

Now this Sunday as part of ABC News’ Superstar series, the spotlight is on Elizabeth Taylor – the blueprint for modern celebrity culture.  Taylor passed away in 2011 of congestive heart failure at the age of 79.

Photo: ABC

Known as the original influencer and the first to use her fame to create a fragrance empire and forge frontiers in social activism, on and off the screen, she was larger than life. Elizabeth was married eight times to seven different men, and her fiery relationship with Richard Burton was always tabloid news. Elizabeth was pursued by paparazzi around the globe, and even denounced by the Vatican. She also broke the glass ceiling by negotiating the first million-dollar salary in Hollywood.

In an exclusive interview with Barbara Walters, she once said, “I know I’ve had an extraordinary life. I realized that it’s like a soap opera. It’s not like an ordinary life at all. I can’t do anything half way.”

Photo: AMAS

From the mid-1980s until her death, Elizabeth’s greatest role was that of activist. In a society paralyzed by fear, she used her fame to shine a light on the injustice and ignorance surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. She co-founded amfAR and founded The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, receiving many awards for her advocacy.

Photo: ABC

Over a decade since her death, ABC News’ “Superstar” series explores the iconic figure’s life, career and marriages.  The star-studded television event features interviews with celebrities such as Fran Drescher, Rosie O’Donnell, Camilla Belle, and Melissa Reeves.

Superstar: Elizabeth Taylor airs Sunday, May 14 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC and available next day on Hulu.

Check out the promo for ‘Superstar: Elizabeth Taylor; below, plus a blooper reel of the actress in scenes from GH as Helena Cassadine.

Then let us know, if you loved Elizabeth Taylor for her film roles, her humanitarian efforts, and as the OG Helena of General Hospital via the comment section.

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I love most everything with Elizabeth starring in it. She many times played a strong independent woman like she did in her real life. Loved Giant, Maggie the Cat, and Cleopatra amongst others. “Stars” and “influencers” today are just a shadow of her talent and beauty. As for her husbands…nobody gets everything right. But it was like a soap following her love life, especially with Richard Burton. So I will be watching the ABC Superstar special.

I did watch the Elizabeth Taylor superstar show. It was okay,
with some interesting film footage. But I was also disappointed. It didn’t have the polished, professional docu-type look and interviews I would expected, especially for her.

A true Dame of her time. And the days of Elizabeth Taylor-type of stars will never exist again.

Well, I’m glad they’re running a special on Elizabeth but, frankly, will the majority audience even know who she is? These past two generations aren’t interested in anything prior to their own lives; they mostly are self-centric, thanks to social media elevating every person’s minutest thought into national importance. Even recent JEOPARDY! contestants couldn’t recognize the faces of Betty White or Robert Redford. Elizabeth Taylor was a fascinating character, balancing her materialistic lifestyle with great empathy and compassion for others. I’m hoping this special does her justice.

General Hospital

GH’s Mark Teschner Tells Casting Stories of Johnny Wactor, Giovanni Mazza, Rebecca Herbst & Nicholas Chavez

This week during a very informative and insightful conversation, General Hospital’s 11-time Emmy-winning casting director and now a Daytime Emmy Silver Circle honoree, Mark Teschner spoke on finding the talent for specific roles on the ABC daytime drama series throughout his near three and half decades with the show.

During a livestream chat on the Michael Fairman Channel, Teschner recalled some of the behind the scenes casting stories that brought many beloved favorites to the GH family including the late Johnny Wactor (ex-Brando), the newly-arrived, Giovanni Mazza (Gio), longtime fan favorite, Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth), and rising star, Nicholas Chavez (ex-Spencer) to name but a few.

When speaking with sadness over the loss of Wactor, who was shot and killed back on May 25th, and what he brought to the character of Brando, Teschner recalled, “With Johnny, what you see is what you get. You see the most kind decent, standup guy, and that’s innately who he is. So, that quality comes through in his work and with the character.”

Photo: HutchinsPhoto

Mark explained, “Brando was a raw kind of hothead, troubled kind of character, and Johnny was able to go there. He had a real intensity that he was able to bring to the role, but at the same time, the character of Brando had to have this depth and this giant heart that he doesn’t necessarily reveal when you first see him. Well, Johnny had the biggest heart of anyone you’ll ever meet. So that essence was already there, and then his acting and his skill played the character. Johnny brought so much of who he was to the character, and there was something so authentic about him.”

Photo: ABC

Giovanni Mazza recently debuted on GH as “Gio”, so what was his road to landing in Port Charles? Teschner shared, “I was casting a recurring role for a 15-year-old on the show, but when I’m doing the audition, sometimes I’ll open it up because we try to cast true to age, really within a year or so.  If you think about it, all the kids in our show are the exact age of the characters that they’re playing. Because if you have somebody that’s older playing younger, it sticks out because they’re not going to blend age-wise. But I did read a number of actors that were older just because they looked interesting. Gio’s audition came in. I was viewing this through self tapes, and there was just something about him. It wasn’t just that he was a great-looking kid, it was just there’s something very soulful about him and something very compelling, and he draws you in. ”

Photo: ABC

Mark continued, “So with the group of the 15-year-olds that I sent to Frank Valeintini (EP, GH), I said, ‘Hey, I’m including this kid, Giovanni Mazza. I’m well aware he’s too old, but I just want you to see him.’

After having him come into audition, two weeks later, Frank called Mark and told him they were putting Gio under contract. Teschner added, “So, that was an example where it was his first week in LA, it was his first and ever audition. So we got  before anybody else.  I think he’s really gonna develop into, you know, quite a young actor.”

Becky Herbst has been beloved as Elizabeth for decades, and Teschner recounted her audition process and how she came to the role of Elizabeth. “She (originally) auditioned for the role of Sarah Webber. But the role of Elizabeth was created for Becky. While the character of Sarah did not last long, here we are with Becky 30 years later.”

Teschner cited Becky’s casting as a great example. “I always tell actors when they come into audition, you lay it out, you put it all out there, you bring everything you have to that role. You may not get the role, but if you do good work, you get remembered. And it’s so true.”

Photo: ABC

Nicholas Chavez popped in the role of Spencer Cassadine before exiting the series. Teschner tells how Chavez came onto the GH casting radar. “Nicholas sent his self tape in from Florida and the rest is history. He had a meteoric impact on the show.” Mark added, “You always have an expectation and the hope that they’re (the actor) going to nail it and run with it. But sure, there are actors, you think, ‘They’re gonna be awesome,’ and then all of a sudden it goes to another level. With Nicholas Chavez, we knew he’d be amazing, but you know, who knew? Well, we did.”

Watch the full conversation with Mark Teschner below where he talks about even more of the casting stories behind some of your GH favorites, then and now.

What you think of the Teschner’s eye for talent casting the characters of General Hospital? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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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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