Franco Stanko: Why I Pray The “Special Guest Soap Star” Craze Comes to an End Soon


 

Well, we all knew it was coming around again. Like death, taxes and poor Lindsay Lohan‘s most recent failed attempt at living by the guidelines Miss Emily Post provided on how on how a lady should conduct herself in a seemly and courageous manner. General Hospital is once again throwing all of it’s eggs up into the air as the cast and crew scrambles to facilitate the latest brain fart ridonkulousness of one James Franco. Sigh.
 


Now don’t get me wrong. I am as much a fan of the handsome-if-increasingly-weird actor as anyone— in theory— and I totally got why GH accomodated the B-lister’s kooky desire to do a soap opera "performance art piece" the first time around, but seriously, Franco: Part Deux?

So, yeah, Franco’s appearances on GH net the show "mainstream" publicity. Big whup. Much of the buzz he generates is negative, with sites like The Huffington Post and Gawker all but accusing him of slumming. The Milk and Spider Man star himself crapped all over television’s most famous soap during his Saturday Night Live monologue a few months back. Not cool Franco, not cool at all. At least when I crap on soaps it’s in the spirit of good, clean Christian fun and an all-consuming and generally rational love for the genre.

Besides, if buzz sans ratings really mattered to ABC Daytime, a little couple known as Kish would still be in the gayer-than-ever-before fictional burg of Llanview, PA (Jamey climbs up on top of his desk, strips out of his Polo pants and Casual Male XL shirt with one rip,  to reveal a bustier, before bursting into a medley of  Cher‘s "If I Could Turn Back Time", Jordin Sparks‘ "Battlefield" and Meatloaf‘s "I Would Do Anything For Love, But I Won’t Push Marty".
 
Fans actually liked the buzz-generating Kish pairing on One Life to Live— save for that one, toothless haus frau in "Mainstream America" with good organizational skills at running letter writing campaigns— but that didn’t matter a hill of beans to TPTB, so why does James Franco’s lackluster appeal? 

Dear Mistre Frons,

I dunt like to see them thar homer sectuals on my TV! It ain’t right. Cut that stuff offa there and put Tawd and Martee back together. They was ROW-MANTIC!

Wanda Jean Wilkerson

We pesky "online" fans that this industry seems not to give two poots and a jiggle about, are the ones who are going to actually tune in to watch this stuff— no matter how much we bitch and moan about it— not someone who reads some throw-a-way quote about GH in Maxim or One Life to Live in Us Weekly, due to some "Special Guest Star" making a showing, and allowing a PR rep to think they’ve earned their day’s keep. 
 
Sorry to break it to the painfully out-of-touch and desperate to belong execs who run this industry, but someone picking up a mainstream magazine to learn about the current state of Kim Kardashian and Reggie Bush‘s relationship (They’re on the outs again. Tune in tomorrow. ) isn’t gonna become so fired up about a mention of Snoop Dogg coming back to Llanview that they decide to watch a soap they didn’t already watch before (blinks very slowly). However, if they are a lapsed fan, they sure as shooting might tune back in to see a Vanessa Marcil or Victoria Rowell.

Even former soap fan who may, on the off chance, return after spying a blurb in Celebrity Yoga Enthusiast Digest  about Courtney Love playing a Sri Lankan nun on the "story" they once watched at their mother or grandmother’s 18 to 49-year-old knee, will have to find a storyline that is, you know, compelling waiting for them when they tune back in. Franco running around Port Charles pushing bad graffiti and tying up damsels to bombs wasn’t exactly riveting drama. 

As much as I am loving the "Sins of a Father" story arc (And trust me, I am. Just ask my neighbors, who hear my screaming out "You go Carly!" every evening), there are still much too many beloved GH characters either floating aimlessly (Scrubs, Kate Howard), or being stuck in stinky, side storylines (Liz) for me to get excited about Franco Stanko returning. I am sure the majority of fans who tune in to this program, or any soap,  would relish more decent, powerful, romantic storylines for their faves who are already on the canvas, i.e. Robin and Patrick (Kimberly McCullough and Jason Thompson), than another tired, episodic story for a guest star trying to scratch some existential acting itch, or get some free publicity of their own. See there, you didn’t think I knew a great, big, ‘ol word like "existential", on account that I watch soaps, now didja, Fronsie

Guza, if you print this out to read on your toilet, you know you’re my boy. You had me at "Clink, Boom", but please don’t shift what’s working about GH, or continue to ignore a third of this soap’s amazing canvas to keep accommodating this fruit loop’s whims, and please, please please rest of the soap world’s copycats showrunners do not follow suit (Yes, Maria Arena Bell, I am talking to you!) 

Instead of getting on the phone with Meredith Baxter‘s management team to try to get her to come on for two weeks as a soothsayer who tells Victoria Newman (Amelia Heinle) she’s headed for a dangerous encounter with a deadly eraser, why not spend a little more time writing character driven, realistic (A), (B) and (C) storylines for the characters and actors you already have? I know, I know, it isn’t as much fun, but it’s what worked for this genre for the majority of the last 70 plus years.

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