General Hospital: Freeing Up Cash, But For What?

Something curious is going on over at General Hospital in the casting department and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Amidst the headline grabbing demise of legacy characters portrayed by Natalia Livingston (Emily) and Lindze Letherman (Georgie) and off screen coma of Dylan Cash’s Michael General Hospital has ever so subtly been eliminating contract roles such as those portrayed by Josh Duhon (Logan) and Jason Gerhardt (Coop) or putting contract roles portrayed by actresses such as Jackie Zeman (Bobbie) and Kent Masters King (Laney) on recurring. This as word has it that several major stars have had or requested to have their daily guaranteed episode counts reduced.

Put the pieces of the puzzle together and it makes one wonder how much money the casting department at General Hospital is sitting on, and more specifically what they may be stockpiling it for?

Of course there is one obvious explanation, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

First though, it should be noted that General Hospital brought back Sarah Brown in January, which you just know had to cost a pretty penny. This past October they hired Bruce Weitz as Anothony Zacchara. Of course then there was the Finola Hughes/Young and Restless casting fiasco which forced General Hospital to announce that they had a major storyline for Hughes this summer (which some fans doubt actually existed) to avoid having one of ABC’s biggest names jumping to the CBS network. Not hard to imagine that was a hit to the balance sheet.

To be fair, it is entirely possible that in an era of eroding ratings General Hospital may just be tightening its casting budgets so that it can afford to go to the negotiation table with enough cash on hand to be able to keep some of it’s bigger name stars such as Maurice Bernard, Jason Thompson, Kimberly McCullough, and Kelly Monaco around. Maurice Bernard just renewed his contract but the other three are all reported to have their contracts come up early this fall. However, I’m not sure I want to be "fair." It’s not as fun to be fair, now is it.

Which leads me to the question. If General Hospital is in fact eliminating all these roles in order to free up cash, for what reason? Could it be to so that it can continue it’s gluttonous obsession with CGI? Might it be to help pay for the second season of General Hospital: Night Shift? OR could it be in order to try and seduce She Who Shall Not Be Named back to Port Charles? Rumors abound that it is thisclose to happening.

Needless to say, I’m very curious where all the money General Hospital is saving by getting rid of or reducing these contracts is going. I know which I’m hoping for. Unfortunately when it comes to General Hospital I rarely get what I want.   

30 Responses

  1. Profile photo of Beth

    It is a curious thing, Luke, and I’m pretty sure I can’t shed any new light on it, but I really hope that the show isn’t trying to put their eggs into one basket.

    Of course, there’s plenty of debate that can rage about Sarah Brown’s popularity vs. Vanessa Marcil’s, or the show’s decision to cast Sarah in a role other than the one she created, but I think it’s a mistake to rely on VM alone to raise ratings. I know the ratings went through the roof the last time she was on, and I know the show probably would never have her as anyone but Brenda, but that was before the ratings started hemorrhaging for them. Genie Francis couldn’t give them the ratings they wanted, neither could Sarah Brown, and I really don’t think Vanessa Marcil at this point could do it either. I’d love to see her back on the show, but not as the be all end all.

    I know where I’d like to see their money go, but that’s for another debate! :)

  2. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    I think it’s no different than what we see on all the daytime soaps. Once story arcs end they write out characters who are no longer part of their long range vision for the show (i.e Logan, Coop) or that they plan to SORAS (Michael). Y&R’s getting rid of the kid that plays Noah. OLTL’s getting rid of Nash and OLTL asked Phil Carey to go recurring just like GH asked Zeman, so GH is really no different. They don’t take GH money to fund Night Shift. SoapNet and ABC are both subsidiaries of Disney, but I’m sure they have their own fiscal allocations. They share sets and resources, but I doubt Night Shift’s budget is dependent on anything other than its ratings.

  3. Profile photo of Luke Kerr
    Luke Kerr

    They may be different divisions. However, when it comes to GH/NS things are really blurred.

    For example. Who paid for the GH set upgrades that came around in time for NS to premier? Does GH pay NS to use the fancy ER they set up for NS when NS isn’t on? Does GH pay NS to use the shore front CGI shot of Port Charles? How are all the actors who starred on NS but now appear on GH and vice versa getting paid. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there was some fuzzy math or "you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours" going on when it comes to moving back and forth between the two shows and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the producers of NS tell the producers of GH  "you need to help pay for sets because once the NS season ends you’ll be using it almost daily."

  4. Profile photo of elbugten

    I was hoping you were referring to Genie Francis, too, but with her I think it’s more of a time off issue than a money issue. IF Vanessa Marcil comes back (and that’s s BIG if) I hope GH doesn’t become The Brenda Hour as it did the last time she was on. They played her every day in every s/l for 6 months and then when she left, they didn’t know what to do w/ the show. I hope they learned their lesson from that.

  5. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    I think the budget is an ongoing give and take… Bringing SB back meant they had to get rid of the expensive NL (who I believe wanted to leave anyway) and LL (who may not have been a major player, but whose years on the show would have put her at a decent salary range). Georgie and Emily were replaced by the cheaper Nadine – who was in the same age range and was of a similar character “type.”

    Logan is expendable in TIIC eyes because they’re bringing on new young hunk, Jason Cook. My question is this though, letting JD go and bouncing Masters to recurring isn’t an even exchange (moneywise) w/ Jason Cook…so with Cook’s salary and Hughes’ significant s/l at GH (as you mentioned Luke), does that mean we’re going to see a few more people let go to make up the $$ that they’re going to be shelling out?

    I’m also thinking that once her contract expires, SBrown is out of there, giving TPTB some extra money…how are they going to spend it?

  6. Profile photo of Luke Kerr
    Luke Kerr

    Also, the difference between Sarah Brown and Vanessa Marcil and what they can pull in in terms of ratings also has to do with "diluting the brand." Like it or not since we’ve had 4 Carly’s SB returning, not to mention as another character, people aren’t as intensly interested in having SB as they would be with VM. We’ve learned to live without her since we’ve went through hell and back with the other three Carly’s storyline wise. Now if Carly had been off screen all this time and SB was returning as Carly I think that she may have been able to pull VM style ratings.

    VM on the other hand portrays an extremely popular character that has never been recast and all the Brendabots bombed not to mention VM was on a popular primetime TV show that kept her in people’s minds. SB did short lived series or stints or guest appearences that most people missed. If Brenda had recast four times and VM was returning as a Sam recast I’ll bet there would have been ZERO ratings bump for her return.

  7. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    all the Brendabots bombed

    Oh Luke, yay! Since Sam obviously didn’t bomb, does this mean you don’t consider Sam a Brendabot??? (Daisy closes her eyes and prays to the Soap Gods that Luke writes “No, Sam is totally not a Brendabot!”)

    I do have a question though about VM coming back… I think it’s pretty obvious she won’t be sticking around for long. So even if it does lead to an increase in the ratings, do you guys think it’s worth it since it would presumably only be temporary?

  8. Profile photo of Luke Kerr
    Luke Kerr

    If they can get VM back for at least a year like SB then I think they could do amazing stuff with Brenda to set up all kinds of s/l that would in theory last until she returned again. I think they’d get their moneys worth out of a VM return.

    As for Sam, she is/was a brendabot and as one bombed…however, for some she may also be the first rehabbed brendabot in that outside of Sonny and Jason and Jax she has been successfull with other men like Lucky. Her DNA says Brendabott but she’s the first to have "evolved", be it only minorly. lol

  9. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    As for Sam, she is/was a brendabot and as one bombed…however, for some she may also be the first rehabbed brendabot in that outside of Sonny and Jason and Jax she has been successfull with other men like Lucky. Her DNA says Brendabott but she’s the first to have “evolved”, be it only minorly. lol

    Okay, that’s not the “she’s totally not a Brendabot!” that I was hoping for, but I’ll take it!! :)

    I was thinking that a short term VM return might not be worth it, but I guess you guys are right…it can be a good set up for future s/l’s and if there’s potential to gain viewers (and keep them) then it would be worth it.

  10. Profile photo of siomonstuart2003

    I think the ratings drop is that GH is becoming so unwatchable that poeple are tuning out. To get ratings back is to get rid of Guza and Frons and JPF and get a new headwriter who knows the history and the cast and respects what the audience want. Get rid of the mob or leave it out of 98% of s/ls and get back what the soap is: about the lives of doctors and nurses and people in Port Charles and romance and couples to root for and good guys winning and bad guys losing instead of being prop up as saints and hero worship and women having brains instead of lumps of coal in their heads and legacy characters on our screen.


  11. Profile photo of Regan Cellura
    Regan Cellura

    Wow…love all the comments! IF Vanessa were to return, the ratings would rise. There is no doubt about it. She brings ratings. Now, I’d love her for a year but I’d take the 6 months that are RUMORED. Do they have a chance? From what I’ve seen, yes. VM supposedly wants a steadier, more relaxed life now that Las Vegas is over. A soap fits that bill.

  12. Profile photo of Chrystie-Delancey

    I would say to forget spending money on the CGI. My husband works in the biz, and what they have on GH – aint all that great. It’s good enough for a poor video game or something.

    I woul also say that most people that watch soaps, do not do it for the CGI.

  13. Profile photo of Luke Kerr
    Luke Kerr

    Carly, even on her best day, was a trashy, pitbull who wrecked her mother’s marriage for sport.

    That may quite possibly be my all time favorite Jamey quote, ever. hilarious!

  14. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    Luke, do you think we could ever have a poll like, “Which GH return would you want most?” And we could have Vanessa, Genie, maybe a couple of fan favorite Q’s as options? I’m curious to see if Vanessa would win by a landslide (or maybe Genie) or if it would be an even race between everyone…

  15. Profile photo of podcastjunkie

    Maurice resigned?? Where’d you read that at Luke? That suprises me. What’s the use of him leaving the mob and still being on the show? You know they won’t have any idea how to write for him after that.

  16. Profile photo of BigDede

    For me it seems like as soon as Tamara B left as Carly, the ratings has never been the same. Before she left, the ratings were low but it stayed steady at 2.5/2.6. But as soon as she left we started seeing the 2.3/2.2. I think she had a huge fanbase and a lot of people were turned off from that Carly #3 and tuned out. I don’t think GH ever recovered from that. Besides the stunt casting (Noah) or big sweeps events (the hostage crisis) the ratings remain low.

    I think that certain actors get canned when their storyline runs out. Logan was a horrible character to begin with. Apparently they didn’t screen test the actor with JB otherwise they would have seen they didn’t have any chemistry and they could have build up some other stories for him. But Coop, that was a big waste. He could have been the perfect tie in to bring Brenda back or be related to a Q. That and Lainey being on recurring is a waste.

    SJB return was a bomb. I can only see her as Carly and I just hate Claudia. I hated when Brenda came back last time except that Skye did have a good storyline out of that. She was on too much but she would be a welcome.

  17. Profile photo of THEBEST

    Bringing back Vanessa & Genie would be great for the show. Laura can give the show back the heart that it lost when Lila died. Ned, Dillon, & Brook Lynn are needed to revitalize the Qs. Jason also needs to be incorporated into the family more once Jake’s paternity is revealed. Felicia, Kevin, Lucy, Scott & Bobbie are needed to help get this show back to what it was. Logan’s death is such a waste. He could have been paired with Nadine.

    ***///Living In The World Of Soaps Since 1985\\\***

  18. Profile photo of Boidiva02

    I find it truly disgusting what “GH” has done the last several years—they have literally phased out every single one of the their legacy characters and replaced them with more and more focus on Sonny, Jason, Carly, Sam and Alexis and the thing is of those–Alexis is the only one worth watching… they have totally gotten rid of The Scorpio’s, The Hardy’s, The Webber’s, The Baldwin’s, The Cates, The Wexler’s, The Spencers, The Joneses, The Devane’s and The Cassidines, not to mention the fact that they have killed of nearly every single Quatermaine and the few left are rarely even seen. It’s disgusting… and the fact that Jackie Zeamen hasn’t had a storyline of her own since friggan 2003 is really REVOLTING. All i know is this: GH needs to get back Wendy Riche and Claire Labaine ASAP and restore some history to this once legendary series.

    Wishing Lucy Coe was still around!

  19. Profile photo of Danielle

    ITA Boidiva02! I could not have said it better myself! In light of the fact that every time a veteran actor/actress does come back and they do not have a real storyline makes me sick! If GH is so hell bent on making the show all about the Mob then make another soap called "The Chronicles of Johnny-No-Thumbs" and be done with it and make GH about the hospital again! Bringing Brenda back will only glorify the mob even more! Geez give someone on GH a mental illness a real one and not one that takes place in Sonny’s house! Quit with the tumors because that is so 1996!  Can a viewer get a heart transplant please???????  

  20. Profile photo of Boidiva02

    What drives me nuts about “GH” is that under Labaine and Riche this show was soooooo realistic and stories like Maxie’s heart transplant and Robin’s HIV were told with realism and sensitivity but now, NOTHING makes any sense on GH… one day Elizabeth is in art school, the next day she’s a nurse? what? Emily went from boarding school and the next day she’s a doctor? what? and none of the medical issues make sense either–Alexis’s cancer dissappears after like a month… and Sonny’s gets shot like five times a week and NEVER DIES or gets so much as a scratch? come on! this is not working… for a show that once won AWARDS for it’s portrayls of sensitive, timely issues like HIV, AIDS and Breast cancer it’s shameful to watch this show now.

    Wishing Lucy Coe was still around!

  21. Profile photo of siomonstuart2003

    I am finally glad that some people on here are wise to that the show is losing ratings because of the repetitive s/l and awful writing of a once a great soap that I just can believe otherwise is ruin by Guza himself


  22. Profile photo of OldGHFan

    While I love Vanessa Marcil, bringing her back won’t cure GH’s ratings problems. GH brought back Tristan Rogers, Emma Samms, Finola Hughes, and Genie Franis and they had much higher ratings in their heyday. The problem was the execution. NONE of the characters were as many fans remember. They were Guzafied. My fear for Brenda is she will be Guzafied even though Guza seems to love Sonny (although that’s debatable recently).

    We need to get rid of Frons, Phelps and Guza and have a team of producers and writers who care about the quality of this show. Otherwise, ratings wise, GH will continue down the toilet.

  23. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    The first Night Shift was produced and written by the same people who produce and write GH. Now the second one will have a new headwriter and show runner, it’s no different than Grey’s Anatomy spinning off to do Private Practice. All the sets are owned by Disney/ABC and can be used at their discretion. This year they are building new sets and will continue to borrow old sets. Last year of course they relied on the parent show more because the spinoff hadn’t made any money. But now it has with impressive ratings for SOAPnet and DVD sales, so TPTB have loosened up the purse strings more.

  24. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    I hope they never in a million years hoped Sarah Brown would do for ratings what Vanessa Marcil did. Sarah is a great actress with the Emmys to prove it, but Carly was never the leading lady she later became until TB took over the role and she was never as much of a sure thing rating’s wise as Marcil. GH should do whatever it takes to get Vanessa Marcil back if they want to near the 3.0 again. This isn’t me talking as a fan of her’s either, this is pure mathematics. Last time she came back, so did 800,000 lapsed viewers. 

  25. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    I like Brown but she wasn’t worth the dough. Just like a lot of “legacy” actors. It’s lean times. Soaps can’t afford to pay people King’s Ransoms if they aren’t bringing ratings. Offer her a chance to stay at a reduced rate or say it’s been fun.

  26. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    Brenda is like a mini-Erica Kane. The character is pure wish fulfillment. The glamourous heiress/super model/record producer torn between the mobster and the Aussie raider. It was like a Harelquin romance brought to life. Carly, even on her best day, was a trashy, pitbull who wrecked her mother’s marriage for sport.

  27. Profile photo of Jamey Giddens
    Jamey Giddens

    If they get her back for a short term and actually build up enough stories that are fascinating-i.e. Liason, Johnny and Lulu, etc and have them on display, when she leaves, some of those lapsed fans will stay. People don’t want to hear this, but a lot of the fans she brought back stuck around until Tams left. Thats when the freefall began.

  28. Profile photo of Boidiva02

    the ratings slip has nothing to do with Tamara Braun—thats’ giving her wayyy to much credit—the real culprit is the terrible writing and the almost purposeful exclusion of key legacy characters from the story. not to mention the repeativie dialouge and storylines.

    Wishing Lucy Coe was still around!

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