11:52am PT by Michael O'Connell
TCA 2012: 'General Hospital' Cast Addresses Grim Soap Opera Mortality Rate
The last year has been one marked by a great deal of transition for last standing ABC soap opera General Hospital.
After the cancellations of both All My Children and One Life to Live, the series brought on a new executive producer Frank Valentini. The following months prompted a somewhat surprising renewal for the low-rated serial and a wave of Daytime Emmy wins.
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Both invigorated and cautious while speaking at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Valentini and much of the series' cast spoke about the waning days of the soap and what they're doing to stay afloat.
"We were living on death row," longtime star Anthony Geary said of last year's cancellations. "I think we were all pretty emotional to get 24 [Emmy] nominations when we were so shaky about a year ago before Frank came on."
Morbid metaphors punctuated much of the half-hour discussion, but everyone also seemed optimistic about ABC's promotion of the series upcoming time slot move from 3 p.m. to 2 p.m.
"All I can say is they invited us here, and that's a great sign," said Valentini. "They're very excited about the 50th anniversary. I'm pretty confident... I like the way that we're being positioned with the other shows around us. The network is doing a big push to inform the viewers."
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Of all the cast members to praise Valentini, Nancy Lee Grahn may have been the most effusive, likening the EP to a captain that steered the series away from an iceberg.
"Everyone seems to enjoy cutting edge things, the newest thing, but there's something to be really valued in tradition, making people comfortable and something that is generational and inclusive," she said. "That really matters. People have watched General Hospital for 50 years."
Another big topic was Valentini, the former One Life to Life showrunner, deciding to bring over some of the cast from his former series.
"It was bittersweet," said Michael Easton, who transitioned his One Life to Live character to General Hospital after the series' end. "At the same time it's been exciting to come over and work with these guys. We were pretty aware for year there that the wrecking ball was right outside the door. It's interesting to come over here and have the same feeling."