By Michele Dargan

Rumors have abounded for weeks….no make that months…that ABC was cancelling One Life To Live or All My Children or….maybe both!

There have also been rumors that ABC will merge the two soaps together!!

Crazy, eh?

Maybe not so much.

We’re not exactly sure WHAT’s going on.

But we’ve heard through very good sources that both soaps are potentially on the chopping block.

We’ve also heard that a decision will come down next month.

Apart from whether you are loving or hating what is going on storyline-wise right now on both soaps (thumbs down for me, but that’s for another day), the thing is that we all, as soap fans, love the genre.

And what we really DON’T want is to have any more soaps cancelled!

So here’s what you need to do. Call, write or e-mail Anne Sweeney. Apparently, she’s the decision maker. Her contact info is listed below.

Anne Sweeney
Co-Chair, Disney Media Networks/
President, Disney-ABC TV
500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Direct line: 818-569-7700
Fax: 818-569-7678
Email: anne.sweeney@abc.com

So what are you waiting for???

Let the barrage of correspondence begin!!

By Silas Kain
As a soap opera aficionado for the better part of my life I’ve seen many tales told over the years which I could take or leave.

You know the drill.

Stories get remade, retold, repeated or as I like to call them regurgitated.

In the last decade it seems there’s been a gradual decline in the appeal of General Hospital.

Absent from the canvas have been those compelling stories which began around nurses stations, in operating rooms or on exotic spy missions.

Robert and Anna Scorpio

I admit, I wasn’t there from Day One.

I remember a little about Audrey & Steve Hardy, and I even remember Jesse Brewer.

Jessie Brewer and Steve Hardy

But my time with GH really began in the days of Edward and Lila, Monica and Allan, ELQ, the Cassadine wars and the saga of the Scorpios.

Edward and Lila Quartermaine

On January 31, 2011, General Hospital came full circle and has been given an opportunity few, if any, soap operas have ever enjoyed.

When Dante said to Jason, “let him have the win” the first thought which popped into my mind was, “yes, Mr. Guza, let Michael have the win”.

Let’s take a quick trip down Memory Lane so you get where I’m coming from.

Over the years, Michael has been the focal point of so much drama.

His conception, the secrets of his paternity, battles for custody and his shooting all have been the axles in the story wheels we’ve watched turning. Michael is the one character who connects all characters. He’s the legacy character we dare not recognize by virtue of his birth.

When Michael finally ended up in prison and it was obvious the story line was about to take a very dark twist I was more than concerned. I had problems with how the writers would take this story and bring it to a satisfying conclusion – not only for us but for Michael.

Come on now. You and I both know we haven’t been overly thrilled with the lame story lines. Like it or not, this whole mob boss do gooder swill has reached the breaking point. The writers have brought us from the cradle to manhood with Michael and, as usual, they’ll blow it once again and deprive us of damn good soap opera. Think about it…

Carly & Jax – She may have been many things over the years but there’s one thing which is hard to dispute. Carly is the Mamma Grizzly Sarah Palin can only dream of being. She’s sacrificed plenty for Michael. Sure, Michael has been an unwilling victim in many of her schemes, but the bond this mother and child have shared since birth is undeniable.

Enter Jax. The love Jax has for Carly’s children is real on every level.

Jax and Carly Photo: ABC

His arrogance as a tycoon is diminished by his genuine affection and loyalty to his step children. He’s even agreed to make Morgan his own son – not out of some mean spirited rebuke to Sonny. He did it because – for all intents and purposes – Jax knows that he is the father Morgan should have had in Sonny.

The fallout of Michael’s rape could serve to bring Carly and Jax together in such a way that it would take a thousand Brendas and a dozen Balkans to drive them apart. Their children are the fuel that fires their passion. General Hospital needs a solid, happily married couple on the canvas. Carly and Jax are that couple.

Jason – He’s had his share of drama over the years. Whether it be in the mansion wading his way through the miserable dynamics of a dysfunctional family or being a stoic enforcer for the romantic Sonny, there remain still waters which run very deep.

There is but one core character who breaks the ice of Jason Morgan – Michael.

Michael (Chad Duell) and Jason (Steve Burton) in jail.

He’s an uncle, a father figure, a friend and ultimate loyalist. Unlike the women in Jason’s life, there are no conditions with Michael. They love each other with no strings attached – no pretenses. It’s the purest love ever seen on this show.

And now Jason has faced Michael’s rape head on.

How will the writers handle it? Will this cause Jason to break? How will this affect his relationship to Sonny?

And how much guilt will Jason bear in the coming years for the cruel torture Michael has suffered? The Jason we know would seek revenge – or would he?

The writers, of course, will probably find a way to direct all our attention to punishing Franco but that’s the cheap way out. There are repercussions so far reaching that they could change the face of General Hospital for the next 20 years.

The Davis ladies – We all know how Sam fits in to the scenario with Jason. But what about Alexis, Kristina and Molly?

Kristina, Molly and Alexis Davis

Though Alexis and Carly detest each other for the most part, their children provide them a connection. Alexis Davis, the lawyer, would want to seek legal revenge on the highest scale. She can’t. Who does she fight? Carter is dead.

She’s got to reach down into her Cassadine genes and find a way to protect her girls and help them each deal with the aftermath. There are dozens of compelling story lines which could be woven for them. The actors who play these roles have proven themselves especially Nancy Lee Grahn. She’s got the talent, the skill, the history to make the fallout for her girls something GH fans could discuss for months, if not years. And in keeping her own household in order, she’s got to be a source of comfort to Sam who will have to deal with the rage locked within Jason.

The Quartermaines – Edward Louis Quartermaine, the patriarch of a clan which has been the heart of GH for decades would not take the rape of his grandson lightly. Edward is a lot of things but when it comes to Michael the only other human being who has softened Edward as much as this boy is Lila.

And then there is Monica. She’s lost so much – her husband, A.J., Jason and her beloved Emily. All she has ever wanted was to be a grandmother with a place in Michael’s life. What’s so bad about that? And, doesn’t it make complete sense to see Jason turn to Monica at this time? Michael is AJ’s offspring. From the hour of his birth, Jason took it upon himself to be Michael’s protector. In the end, Jason failed. Who else can he turn to but his mother?

There are the fringe Quartermaines as well. There’s Tracy, wife of Luke who just happens to share DNA with Michael. There’s Brooke Lynn, Maya and her Spencer-husband Ethan. Connect the dots. Have you ever seen a character in the history of daytime with the tentacles of Michael Corinthos?

The Spencers – In the aftermath, where is Barbara Jean? She’s had her share of tragedy with her children. If there was ever a time when Carly’s situation demanded the presence of her mother it is now.

There’s Luke the reluctant uncle and a Quartermaine by marriage. There’s Lucky, who valiantly rescued Elizabeth so long ago after another brutal rape. But there’s another layer for Lucky as the cop who urged his cousin Michael to “do the right thing”. In other words, there has to be some level of guilt there.

As I indicated for Ethan there’s the Quartermaine connection but there’s also the mob connection. He could have his hands full juggling all the dynamics of the fallout from the mansion to the casino to Johnny’s penthouse.

And then there’s Lulu. It hasn’t been easy for her considering her childhood. She finds this guy she’s attracted to who turns out to be Sonny’s long lost son. She falls in love and stands by his side as Dante dispatches Michael’s fate to a judge. Now that she’s discovered Dante’s deception, will her love override her ego so that she can be there to help hold the pieces together not only for the man she loves but for her family?

Sonny – I didn’t save the best for last. Quite the contrary. In many ways the mob story lines escalated with the birth of Michael. Sonny’s so called love of Michael has allegedly been his driving force in most of his adult life.

Maurice Benard as Sonny (ABC/Michael Yarish)

But in the end, Sonny failed miserably – more so than Jason ever could.

It should have been Sonny who went to prison to protect his son. It should have been Sonny who took the bullet that changed Michael’s life forever. It should be Sonny who suffers as much as Michael when he learns of the brutality imposed upon his son.

Instead Sonny is all gaga over Brenda and can’t see the chick peas in his pasta fagioli. This is a watershed moment not only for Michael and Sonny but for the entire General Hospital universe. Out of the darkness can come such light and renewal where preoccupation with Mario Puzo plot lines revert to solid daytime drama which incorporates inter-generational family dynamics.

THAT is soap opera.

THIS is what fans long for.

For the time being, Sonny must go. It has nothing to do with actor. It has to do with character – no, not Sonny the character – the character of a long running soap opera.

The Remainder – Perhaps you finally get where I’ve headed here. There are others as well who share a history with Michael or with his situation. There’s Robin, she’s been there from Michael’s birth. There’s Elizabeth a fellow rape victim who could really serve to help Michael heal unlike anyone else on the canvas. There’s Max and Milo – Sonny’s enforcers but softer than a roll of Cottonelle. This would devastate them both. There’s Mike, the grandfather who has never had an opportunity to unconditionally prove himself to his son and grandchildren. Sonny needs a father whether he likes it or not. And Sonny’s children need the constant unequivocal love and support that Mike has always provided when called upon. And for a new character in the mix, Abby is becoming a lightning rod. She is the one who can shield Michael from his self doubt. She can identify with the demons and help Michael heal in concert with Elizabeth.

The Moral of the Story – First of all, props and accolades to Chad Duell who has taken on the daunting role of Michael Corinthos and executed his profession brilliantly.

Chad Duell as Michael on GH. Photo: ABC

If this young man is an indication of what we have to look forward to in this new generation of actors we are blessed. His performance is worthy of awards from a host of organizations.

Beyond young Mr. Duell’s stellar performance is the sense that Michael has brought General Hospital full circle.

The mob wars stories of days gone by are eclipsed by Pentonville.

Michael has been the glue which has held more than one family together.

Michael’s life has touched 95% of the lives of Port Charles residents. The writers have provided themselves with an opportunity which rarely occurs. They can take this story line and apply it in such a way they can bring old viewers back and create a new generation of General Hospital enthusiasts.

After watching Monday’s episode, I am reminded of David Hasselhoff’s performance in Jekyll & Hyde. As Dr. Jekyll takes that flask in his hand he sees this as his pivotal moment. Henry Jekyll passionately sings, “Give me this moment – This precious chance – I’ll gather up my past; And make some sense at last!”

This is Bob Guza’s Henry Jekyll moment and what he spins from the violation of Michael will be his legacy.

Let’s hope he doesn’t allow this moment to slip through his hands.

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!