By Silas Kain

Happy New Year, SoapBox1 fans!

I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve submitted an article and for that I apologize.

Anyway, there are three pieces I have in various stages of development.

One of the pieces is about James Franco and his return to General Hospital.

The events of this week have caused me to change my tune a little bit. So with all of that in mind, I’d like to throw something out there for your consideration.

Rebecca Herbst

In the last couple of days, it has been reported Rebecca Herbst has been fired from General Hospital.

As news of her firing spread over the Internet, the fan reaction has been a force to be reckoned with in many circles.

As I watch the Tweets, receive the emails and monitor the conversations, I’ve come to some interesting conclusions.

Now some of you may say I’m off base; others will agree.

That’s OK!

These dynamics happen when opinions are discussed.

As difficult as it is to fathom the removal of Elizabeth Webber from the Port Charles canvas, I see this as an opportunity for General Hospital fans to do something really outside the “norm” – WORK TOGETHER!

Unlike the other soaps remaining on air, there has always been an interesting dynamic among GH fans. I call GH Fans the Democrats of soap fan groups because we consistently shoot ourselves in the proverbial feet without blinking an eye!

There are no more contentious rivalries than between “Liason” and “Jasam” fans.

When I suggested the demise of Sonny Corinthos, I received over 700 hate emails because I was being “mean” to Maurice Bernard.

As I said then, for me this is NEVER about the actors. It’s about story lines and good soap opera.

My friends, sometimes we cross the line between actor and character. It just isn’t healthy and it’s time to take that splash of cold water to wake up!

We have some great actors playing incredible roles on GH who are under utilized and virtually ignored.

Let’s discuss Elizabeth for a minute.

Here we have a character who has been through plenty. She’s a single mother. She is trying to make a home for three toddler boys. She’s a rape victim. She’s had her share of heartbreak and loss.

Who hasn’t?

How different is Elizabeth from many of the women in our country today confronted by similar issues?

Elizabeth is one of the last connections we have to the Webbers and Hardys. She’s been pivotal in the lives of so many in Port Charles to the point that losing her from the canvas is almost as profound a loss as the day we buried Lila Quartermaine.

This brings me to the point of James Franco and what he has done for the genre in the last year.

James Franco

I’ve seen so many negative reactions to the return of Franco.

Yet, the one key issue which never gets discussed by GH fans is how much James Franco has done, which is nothing less than positive for Daytime as a whole.

James has been front and center in entertainment media. He’s co-hosting the Oscars. He’s been on talk shows, Inside the Actors Studio and on press junkets all over the globe.

One question he is asked is “why would you want to do a soap opera of all things?”

His answers may surprise you.

He gets it.

He knows soap actors are among the most professional in their vocation. He respects the exhausting work ethic of soap cast, crew and writers. He’s fascinated by the dynamics and loves General Hospital.

OK, so the majority of fans don’t like Franco the character.

But what about James Franco – the actor?

Doesn’t he deserve a little bit of gratitude from daytime fans? Is the collective dislike for Franco the character a testament to James the actor?

Look, I’d rather be discussing plot lines and other things. But the fan wars I see heating up on the Internet have caused me to focus on this week’s news.

Like her or not, Rebecca Herbst has done a stellar job portraying a flawed character which has not received the adequate attention by the head writers in a long time.

She’s immersed in the lives of many Port Charles characters and her absence from the story will have repercussions.

The long standing feud between “Liason” and “Jasam” has created another situation which encourages fans create a finger pointing campaign at other actors.

GH fans, in some corners of your world there is a need to tone down the rhetoric and ramp up the focus. The negative energy being exerted in all directions only validates the notion that Internet soap fans just don’t count.

We’ve heard from members of the mainstream soap press that network executives find the Internet fan base to be populated by the whiners, trouble makers and are just not worthy of any attention.

Well, most of us know different.

Most soap fans who communicate using the Internet do so in good faith with no ulterior motives except to share impressions of the tales told by the “stories” we watch.

Here we are on a Friday.

What can GH fans do to show their support for Becky Herbst?

Well, we can all start by discontinuing the finger pointing and declaring a cease fire in the perpetual fan wars.

Flooding the email boxes at ABC Daytime will accomplish nothing. Such communications are a waste of time and only result in your indignant letters being delegated to the Trash Bin.

Phone calls to ABC Daytime could help – but I’m not convinced that’s the best approach.

The most effective mechanism to state your case as a General Hospital fan is to write a letter. Keep it brief, logical and ultimately respectful.

Make three copies.

Send one to Brian Frons, a copy to Anne Sweeney, and the last one to the editor of your preferred soap magazine.

I’m going to leave you with a sample of a letter I am writing to Brian Frons. You can take away from it any content you wish. The gist and tone of the letter is what’s most important!

So, here goes:

Dear Mr. Frons:
This week your network announced the termination of Rebecca Herbst from General Hospital citing storyline dictated reasons.

While I am not qualified as a member of ABC management in judging the decision, I am quite qualified as a consistent, loyal viewer of the show. In the last year it’s been obvious that ABC Daytime has experimented in many areas to reinvigorate the gradual decline in soap viewership. The firing of Ms. Herbst seems, on the surface, to exacerbate viewer dissatisfaction.

Since the inception of soap opera, the genre has consistently been denied the respect it deserves. Daytime actors’ capabilities have been marginalized – in studios, among actors and by entertainment media. Yet soap actors defy the odds in employment longevity, payment of union dues and delivering for their respective network five days per week.

The lack of respect for the genre has reached out to the soap viewership as well. Advertisers and studio heads afford minimal respect to their soap fan bases. Soap fans, you see, suffer from a flawed image. The truth is the typical soap viewer is more engaged in all other dynamics – casting, writing, set design, direction and producing. We understand the nuances of what sets producing a soap apart from prime time programming.

Your soap fan base is your greatest focus group which has always been available and never used because those in management are completely misinformed as to the incredible bounty of information which could be forthcoming if a serious, respectful dialog were to take place.

The character of Elizabeth Webber, at the very least, has several potential story lines, which could encourage a resurgence for General Hospital. I understand that soaps are not as profitable as they once were. That being said, you may want to consider something that is completely outside the box of conventional wisdom.

If ABC Daytime management reached out to the very fan base which has kept them in business all these years, they may learn a few things. We understand the dynamics, especially with all the new cable stations which have risen in the last decade. We understand that reality programming and/or talk shows are far cheaper to produce. But these programs do not serve a network well in maintaining viewer loyalty which, in turn, reduces the rates your network can charge for commercial advertising.

In closing, I can only urge you to reconsider the decision with regard to Ms. Herbst. A demonstration of good will on the part of ABC Daytime would be a good step in reaching out to hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised ABC Daytime fans who are concerned about the product. Remember, sir, you are the producer, we are the consumer.

When ABC Daytime broadcasts a quality product, ABC reaps the rewards in ratings, viewer loyalty and Internet chatter. Woven in that tapestry of viewers is a growing resource in Blogs and Podcasts devoted to the genre. If ABC Daytime management took a moment to gauge the true spirit of Internet soap fans, I would refer you to SoapBox1.com, Buzz Worthy Radio or Stardish Radio. What you will learn dispersed through these sites is the sentiment that cheap, low quality programming does not necessarily translate into long term profitability. Listening to your Daytime fan base and asking for our input may very well teach you about who and what we are as typical soap viewers.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Sincerely,

Silas Kain

And that’s it, folks. That’s my model letter. Let’s just cease the fan wars and work together in an intelligent, professional manner.

Let’s encourage our fellow General Hospital fans to get involved and write their own letters. In the end all it takes is a paper, pen, envelope and stamp to get your message heard. The firing of Rebecca Herbst is an opportunity to show ABC Daytime once and for all, what genuine soap fans are made of! I believe we can accomplish our mission.

End of sermon.

Until next time stay safe, stay healthy and celebrate life!

Where there is life, there IS soap!

14 Responses to “GH Fans We Are Our Own Worst Enemies”

  1. Kathy Leeman
    23:47, 21.01.2011

    Thank you for the reasonable solution, however I don’t know where to send the letters. Do I find the address on the GH site or do you have a specific one. Thanks

  2. Stella Sutkiewicz
    01:10, 22.01.2011

    As the leader of a successful letter-writing campaign to Paramount Studios involving the return of a character to “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” – let me give you some experienced advice. The first sentence of the sample letter you wrote would get read – the rest wouldn’t. Fans need to be respectful, logical, and BRIEF. You don’t get to the point until the 5th paragraph and before then lay out a diatribe/history/opinion of the soap opera genre in general that is not only unneeded but when provided for an example will possibly result in the same sort of letter from many others that will receive a similar dismissal.

    Basically – Say the matter is about the talented and lovely Becky Herbst – that you like her character and were looking forward to her continuing presence and feel this move is a mistaka – no, I’m not watching threats, no threats to back off using their sponsors unless you also send copies of letters to the sponsors saying so, no whining, just logic and, even if it doesn’t get Becky back, you’ll have involved her name in something that won’t embarrass her by looking like it was composed during a tantrum.

    Please NOTE that was not a comment on the sample letter, just a recommendation that you keep all letters on an even keel. My only doubt about the sample letter was that it was meandering and FAR too long in getting to the point. Even secretaries for these execs are busy folks and only about 5% of the letters, the really exceptional ones, will see their addressee. That’s right from the mouth of Lolita Fatjo, a former assistant to the producers of DS9 at Paramount with whom my group had direct contacts on more than one occasion, shared about how fan mail is handled.

    Anyway, that’s a bit of very experienced advice. Short is best. Polite and short is even better. Short, polite, and clever is best.

    Good luck to all of you and Becky. I tweeted her or her assistant, whomever is running the account, that she is talented and beautiful and faced with, no doubt, some unexpected but certainly great opportunities.

  3. Here you go!

    Brian Frons, ABC Daytime President
    c/o ABC/Disney
    500 S. Buena Vista Street
    Burbank, CA 91512

    Anne Sweeney, President, Disney/ABC Television Networks
    c/o ABC/Disney
    500 S. Buena Vista Street
    Burbank, CA 91512

  4. Amanda Lampkins
    15:16, 22.01.2011

    I am part of a message board dedicated to Lante (The Lante Express). We fervently believe in make our thoughts heard regarding their storyline and any other that we think needs feedback because of it’s direction. Your blog is extremely enlightening. We send letters to the exact same contacts you’ve kindly listed. Your tips are very worthwhile. Thank you.

  5. Stella, thanks for your commentary. Sometimes I tend to be a bit too wordy – it’s in my nature! The heart of the matter is the importance of being POLITE. If the majority of soap fans are polite in this process the better it is for the fan base overall. Peace out!

  6. Stella Sutkiewicz
    17:41, 22.01.2011

    Hi, glad to have a positive response to my comments. I’m just such an old hand at this sort of thing, I fall into lecture mode automatically. I have to admit – the storyline of Elizabeth doing both Lucky and Nikolas made me almost totally uninvested in her character. I think Rebecca is great and she is phenomenally beautiful. She won’t have any problem finding work, I am totally sure but as for no more Elizabeth as a character – I am not sad at all. The impact of her departure, if it’s because of mob violence or Franco, is going to be some acting I’m actually looking forward to if it has to be. Take care and good luck to those of you writing to get her back – I totally sympathize but please, keep it polite, short, and sensible. Everything else, I totally promise you, get tossed – and ps. NO CRAYON! 😀

  7. Gail Blais
    20:09, 22.01.2011

    I, too, am a member of The Lante Express and we have been encouraging our members to write letters and postcards to both Mr. Frons and Ms. Sweeney. I agree wholeheartedly with Stella in that letters need to be kept very short so they have a better chance of being read. I personally have found that postcards work well for me. You can even use a 4×6 index card – write on the lined side and address the blank side. That way, you have to say what you want to say in a brief, concise manner. And, it doesn’t hurt that postcards and such are bright and colorful – another way to get noticed.

  8. It just frustrates me that GH fans continue all this Internet activity and don’t seem to get or pass the message. This campaign is going to take written letters – bags of mail to ABC. One of the ongoing problems with the GH fan base has always been the rivalries and disconnects. To me there are many elements of General Hospital which continue to make it great soap opera on the Young & the Restless level.

  9. Can I just say THANK YOU! I was going back & forth with my friend about this via text today. I can’t stand how immature & childish this whole Liason&JaSam thing is. Bashing fans and the actual actors gets us no where…if we all worked together we might accomplish something. But if we sit there pointing fingers at who we think is to blame and being nasty to eachother we as fans of this soap aren’t going to be taken seriously. So again, thank you for writing this up, it’s probably the most level headed thing I’ve read since Becky was let go from GH!

  10. Well Silas I think your article had some rather salient points; however I think you missed the point of many of Becky’s fans. We aren’t pointing fingers at any fan base but rather at the execs., especially Frons and Guzu, because they are the ones that decided to decimate the character of Elizabeth. They decided that Jasam was a “destiny couple” and with that EW was a stone in the road to their happiness. We appreciate anyone who is willing to write a letter regarding Becky but for the majority of us 1/18/11 was the last time GH would ever be on our screens. We will not watch them shred Elizabeth to pieces so that Sam can have her miracle baby and Elizabeth will be a forgotten mistake in Jason’s past. Frons thought we would stay for the almighty Jason but he again was thinking with his other brain. Thank you for your support.

  11. brwnsugar33
    17:14, 25.01.2011

    Thanks so much for writing this article it does sum up alot about how I feel about GH and what they are doing to poor Becky.

  12. Kathy Leeman, you can find the address to post the letters at RHO.org or rebeeca herbst online facebook page. there you could get all the info. of whom one should send the letters too, in favour of becky. you could even check out the free mail drive, here’s the link: http://thecanvasmessageboard.yuku.com/topic/15731/FREE-Letter-Drive–ve-Got–Stamps—VE-Got–Becky-Love

  13. well, i for one am doing everything i can to keep rebecca herbst on gh. snail mail, emails, phonecalls, comments, and tweeting, comments on articles, petitions, and vote. until becky is hired, there’s no gh 4 me.

  14. BornSoapStar
    01:13, 05.02.2011

    Bravo! Amazing letter! I blame Brian Frons. This 31 year viewer has written, called, emailed and faxed- and written letters to sponsors. I am currently boycotting all of ABC. If Rebecca Herbst is not rehired and/or Brian Frons fired I will not return.