INTERVIEW: Ron Carlivati on General Hospital’s Daytime Emmy Snubs, Fluke and The Return of The Brownstone

Ron Carlivati

Head writer Ron Carlivati  and his boss Frank Valentini have taken General Hospital from a show on the brink of cancellation, to the number one soap in the all-important women 18-49 demographic. Most critics thought GH was last year’s best soap, yet the ABC Daytime drama wasn’t even nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the writing or show categories.

On the Daytime Emmy red carpet, Carlivati spoke candidly about the storylines that will make Port Charles sizzle this summer, the Daytime Emmys and why he talks to fans on Twitter.

Daytime Confidential: The mob has returned to Port Charles in a big way. How are you ensuring that it doesn’t take over the show the way a lot of fans felt that it did a few years ago?

Ron Carlivati: I don’t have the ability to write the mob the way it was written before on the show. That’s not who I am as a writer, so I wouldn’t try to imitate what they did, because I think they did it so successfully. We have so many stories going on that I don’t think there’s really a threat of the mob taking over. The mob was a part of the show from way before there was a Sonny Corinthos, with Luke and Tracy and, back in the day, with Roy Delucca and Frank Smith. It was all about the mob. It’s always going to be an element of the show. You can’t write Sonny without writing the mob. So I love to learn and do my own spin on the mob.

DC: Everyone is guessing, but nobody seems to have cracked what’s going on with Fake Luke, Fluke or whatever you guys call him in the writers’ room.

RC: We did call him Fluke, which was pretty funny since the audience did that also. We put it in the script the day the two guys were on the screen because we had to call him something. So it was Luke and Fluke in the script. Tony [Geary] has some time off and I wanted to at least have the reveal that there were two of them [before he left] and get the audience ready for the next arc which is: Who is he? We managed to pre-tape some stuff with Tony while he’s gone from the canvas. We’re trying to keep the story alive while he’s not on the screen.

DC: Tony Geary looks like he’s having the time of his life playing this storyline.

RC: He really is thrilled. He’s thanked us a million times. He’s bringing so much to it. We can only write it. I don’t know how he’s going to play Fluke. He does such an amazing job of transforming himself. I heard people saying, like, “He’s wearing contact lenses. He’s wearing a wig.” I’m like, no, that’s Tony. I just love what he’s doing. People say, ‘What happened to Tracy? Why is Tracy so stupid?” I don’t think you wake up and say your spouse or significant other has been replaced by an exact duplicate. I don’t know why that would naturally occur to someone. And he has a very good reason for acting differently. He was locked up, drugged and zapped in a mental hospital. So I stand by Tracy’s behavior, even if the audience gives me some crap about that.

DC: Speaking of Tony’s production schedule, you’ve brought back a lot of audience favorites for short-term stories. Is that for budgetary reasons, or are you just utilizing characters when you need them for storyline purposes and sending them away when you don’t?

RC: I just love to draw from history. So if all of a sudden we can have Ric, or we can have Jax or someone like Spinelli back on, I love to do that. I can’t always do that and keep them on the canvas with the canvas being so big, but it doesn’t mean because they come and go that they’re gone for good. We’re telling a story where we knew Ric would be the fall guy, so Luke could get away with what he’s doing. But obviously one day he will be unmasked and then you’re going to have to see Ric.

DC: There was a huge fan reaction when the brownstone was mentioned . Are we going to see it return?

RC: I’m not promising it immediately because there’s a long way to go to get there, but we started renovations on it. We wanted a project that Michael could be working on and maybe where some of the young people are hanging out and we said, “Why not the brownstone?” To me, the brownstone’s like a character. It’s like bringing back Ric, or bringing back Heather Webber or bringing back Lucy Coe. It’s like bringing back the Nurses’ Ball. So it may take us a little while. I know people got very excited, but it is coming.

DC: Is the brownstone going to be mini-Brooklyn? There were references to the neighborhood being gentrified.

RC: That’s how we described it, so we’ll have to see how it all turns out.

DC: General Hospital has had an amazing year. The show has gained about a half million viewers. Are you guys cursed at the Daytime Emmys, because it seems wrong that you were shut out of the writing and best show categories?

RC: Look, I don’t know the reason. I only know what I submitted and I think it stacks up just as well as any of the other submissions. As far as how and why you don’t get nominated, that’s not for me to answer. Of course I’m disappointed, but at the same time, it’s not all about the awards. I’m just happy to be here and supporting everybody who is nominated and getting to see friends and people that I have worked with. So that part’s fun. And what is gratifying is the number of people in your field who are saying we got robbed. So that makes me feel better.

DC: Can you give us a few teasers about what’s coming up on GH?

RC: Nina got up out of the wheelchair and she’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! So that’s a story that’s heating up right now. We’ve got Patrick and Sam on the hunt for this driver [of the car that killed baby Gabriel], so that’s about to unfold. We’ve got a cat-and-mouse between Ava and Sonny living under the same roof, which is really fun. Our love triangle with the boys is going to start up again. That takes a very interesting turn.

DC: Is Brad’s mobster biological father going to appear as part of that storyline?

RC: Well, we connected him to the mobsters from the Asian Quarter, so once I let something like that out, I will eventually get back to that.

DC: You are one of the few daytime head writers who interacts with fans on Twitter, which I imagine can be both gratifying and terrifying?

RC: I had to learn it as I went. I will defend the show and defend our writing, so I had to learn how to do that, how to defend the show and not get into petty squabbles with fans. There are so many great people on Twitter. There are times that the “haters” make it difficult to be on there, because it’s such a turnoff that you want to go away from it, but I get such great feedback from all the nice people that I would hate to stop it just because a few bad apples are determined to spoil it. So I’m staying on, but I had to learn own to pick my battles.

DC: Do fans ever make comments about what they want to happen or references to the show’s history that make you think, “Ooh, I could use that?”

RC: I’ve got to say that the temptation is always like, I would steal that in a second, so I hope people don’t mind if I do.


45 Responses

  1. Profile photo of Cornfed

    Ooooooh, “Fluke” was RON’S created nickname for Luke — sure, yeah, whatever. This guy is so petty and full of it!

    I gotta say it was hard reading this one on a full stomach. That being said, i understand the media doesn’t want to alienate the show runners for any future interviews. Imo, too many topics were avoided in this interview! I think when the the only things mentioned are a building and a character on vacation for the summer, you’re in big trouble!

    But hey, someone’s watching, i just don’t think it’s long term viewers.

    I do often fail to mention that ALL SOAPS can learn a thing or two by watching Devious Maids. That show NEVER jumps the shark (imo), never sacrifices plot for character, is able to infuse humor, and nothing is ever what it seems. They also integrate new characters flawlessly. I’m shocked how many wrongs Marc Cherry has righted from his days from DH. And all of the actresses have grown!

  2. Profile photo of aph1976

    I thought it was a nice interview.I can understand Ron Carlivati not revealing what is coming up because that spoils things for the fans.Plus i’m sure RC is disappointed about the Emmys but as he said awards aren’t the most important thing.What matters might be what the fans of the show think and not what a few people who are the judges for the Emmys think.Plus i’m just that GH is still on the air because 2 years there was a question mark about that.

  3. Profile photo of GHteenybopper

    Ron has failed at the avoiding petty squabbles with fans on twitter part..BIG TIME. He is petty and has shown on twitter that he cannot take any type of criticism whatsoever. He is the one who looks at the #GH hashtags and responds to fans who don’t even mention him, and he blocks everyone and their mother on twitter with an opinion that doesn’t sing his praises. He’s embarrassing.

    I think it’s pretty obvious too that Ron and the writers do use lines fans come up with on twitter as part of the dialouge too. (Joss as child of the corn, Tracy calling Kiki KaKa, Britt calling Liz thirsty etc.)

    I think the Emmy snub was intentional because of FV/RC sort of banking on NuOLTL failing without them, I think they rubbed the voters the wrong way. I do not think they were robbed at all, they don’t deserve to be nominated at all from what I’ve seen onscreen.

  4. Profile photo of DonnyA2001

    I just can’t…the reason why this show wasn’t nominated is because it stinks. There are a million characters and no clear focus and plot driven beyond believe. Not saying the other shows are not guilty of any of that but GH is the worst. The mob isn’t the issue with this show-the mob is kind of cool. I love that he mentioned the Wu mob family from the 80’s (the Asian quarter) I would love if Brad were tied to that. And he can defend his decisions all he wants but they are making Tracy stupid. Bitch used to be a smart, sassy mob boss-this ain’t the Tracy we know. This is the Tracy they need to fit the plot. They made Carly awful, stupid, and weak and are completely missing historical opportunities in favor of hot bodies/wooden acting, batshit crazy characters that make absolutely NO sense (seriously how in the fuck is Obrecht still working at GH and fired Liz? Makes NO sense!) and drive by cameos. SMDH…he mentions history of the show, but he never seems to have respect for it. I liked his first year at the show, I really did, but it’s just gotten WAY out of control.

  5. Profile photo of soapjunkie88

    One of the things RC needs to learn to understand is that there are not only nice people and haters. There are a lot of people on Twitter who criticize the show in a way where RC could actually say “Oh, I’ll think about that”. The problem with his interactions on Twitter is that he only sees the good or the bad. But there are a lot of people that love much about the show and still have a very honest opinion about what could be better or what’s missing.

    I like that RC doesn’t seem to feel so strong about the Emmy snubs anymore.
    The truth here is that, with all it’s twists and turns, it’s hard to let GH compete in a Daytime Emmy race. Some days, GH is just all over the place. That might even work to really give anyone in this big cast something to do but it doesn’t help you win awards, because in many scenes some serious depths are missing. A lot seems to happen off-screen. On-screen, the plot twists happen. But a shocker or an event like the Nurses Ball, where you also have these plot twists and very campy moments … they don’t get you anywhere where awards are concerned.

  6. Profile photo of DonnyA2001

    Completely agree with you soapjunkie! I do not consider myself a hater. I love soaps and I love the show that is General Hospital (although I hardly watch it right now) Love and hate aren’t black and white. You can’t just call someone a hater because they don’t like something you’ve done. It’s not that simple, soap fans are not that simple. So Ron, don’t simply throw out the comments you don’t like because we don’t agree with you. That’s not very mature.

  7. Profile photo of stoney07

    I will say he seems much cooler and more gracious in this interview than I had him pegged. I think seeing his outbursts on Twitter had me thinking he was an ass….

  8. Profile photo of testadoda

    Ron acts like a middle school mean girl. Most people who even bother to go on Twitter*IDon’t* are not haters.They are people who have watched the show for yeeaars,and are sick to death of the way he acts. he has ruined the show for me, and lots of other people. When an actor doesn’t do what he wants he demonizes their characters Robin ,and AJ come to mind. Two of the characters I actually watched the show for. I haven’t watched since AJ left. I will not bother. I go to the boards see what he is doing to ruin the show even more, and I don’t bother. Guza made me shut the show off, and now the mobsters are shooting characters point blank in cold blood and walking. yea sure. he had a great story going with the Scorpios, they are gone, and Anna is now the leader of the keystone cops. Nothing has changed since Guza and his goons left, maybe Ron needs to think about why GH was left off of the emmy lists. He is a sorry excuse for a writer Re_Ron comes to mind.

  9. Profile photo of nysam

    Re-Ron is more delusional than Heather Webber and Nina combined.

    1) The mob has taken over GH. Sonny, Julian, Duke, Fluke, Ava, Morgan, Sean, Max, Milo have all been tied to mob stories for the past year. Anna, Olivia, Dante are all involve peripherally. That’s more mob-centric characters than Phelps/Guza ever had.

    2) Tracy is being written as stupid. Who would wake up thinking their spouse has been replaced by a duplicate he asks??? My answer is a smart woman who has seen her nephew return from the dead, Duke (an ELQ) employee who had a fake face and the city’s police commissioner who also had someone imoersonating when Olbrecht donned a mask. All recent PC history. Not to mention that Tracy must know that Luke had a look-alike cousin, Bil Eckert.

    • Profile photo of sybarite87

      You’re right. There are more mob-tied characters now than in the Phelps/Guza years. The big difference under FV/RC is the quality of the storytelling. Phelps & Guza (& Pratt for awhile) told dark, violent stories that really bummed me out. However, they were capable of moments of real emotion and even brilliance (Roy/Sonny/Brenda/”Amazing Grace”). Guza and his writers, most of whom are long gone, were good at building to the Big Moments, which usually delivered, if only briefly. (I still get chills remembering the scene where Sonny shot Dante just as Olivia ran in to scream, “You shot your son!” Waaaaay soapy, but a great payoff that was a long time coming.) There was a quality to their work, even if it was too dreary and oppressive over the long haul. Not so under this regime, who cannot write compelling, LONG-term story or smart dialogue for anyone on the canvas. Ergo, no Emmys.

    • Profile photo of jeremy in chicago
      jeremy in chicago

      Amen. And lest we bring up the fact that no two penises are quite alike. Gotcha there, Ron.

      Ron’s response would probably be: “Fluke makes sure the lights are low when they have sex.”

      Bull. Tracey would want to have sex during the day too. This guy’s body cannot be 100% the same as Luke’s.

  10. Profile photo of logan_echolls

    Bobbie owned the Brownstone and that’s where everyone lived with their families. Maxie and Lucas along with Tommy III all grew up together there. I want to know when did ELQ buy they Brownstone? Also you can tell Ron went to the library and bought the GH story book. He knows the history but he doesn’t know the characters at all! Tracy would never fall for this! She would at least think maybe Luke was tortured or something while trapped in that mental place. Luke didn’t care if ELQ burnt to the ground! He never cared about the business never! Luke is a freeloader. Heck he was freeloading off of Carly! He still owns Kelly’s. Now we have to wait until after August to see Ric again? Liz is be thrown in the stupid Britt trying to get Nikolas back storyline. Love GH but hate what he’s doing to my vets. Who is this Alexis? Alexis hid Kristina from Sonny yet she’ll stay with Julian despite it affecting Molly? Didn’t Alexis try to break up Jason/Sam?

  11. Profile photo of thecourt99

    I don’t buy his dismissal of Tracy either. Luke is a man that has tried to use her love to get her money and has never wanted to work for ELQ. Tracy has often second guessed Luke and doesn’t often take his word alone on anything.

    Even if Tracy doesn’t assume she has a twin in her bed, Tracy…being Tracy, would question every choice that Luke has made and at the very least would say that something isn’t right about him and try to get him help.

    • Profile photo of soapjunkie88

      Right. Tracy ALWAYS second guessed Luke. She was never sure about his attention or what he was up to. I don’t see her being THAT blind. Being blindsided a little bit is fine but this is so not Tracy’s character when it comes to Luke. She is at this point where the audience has to think that she doesn’t know Luke at all.

      But Luke and Tracy are somewhat of a supercouple.
      And that makes me think … if Laura was still in Port Charles, she would know that this isn’t Luke. She could read right through his lies. Even after years of separation. I’m even sure that Lucky and Ethan could figure it out faster than Tracy OR Lulu for that matter.

  12. Profile photo of timepass

    They were not overlook, RC writing is not Emmy worthy. Campy and barely interesting stories will never get nominated, no matter how good the actors are.

    They will never be good enough to push weak dialogues.

  13. Profile photo of Angie Lucy
    Angie Lucy

    Ron said the triangle with the boys is coming back. Is he referring to the little kids or Michael/Kiki/Morgan? I don’t want either, but I’d take the kids over anything with Kiki, especially if it’s round 2 of her and the Corinthos Bros.

  14. Profile photo of GHFan777

    I am one of the fans on Twitter he blocked. I NEVER tweeted him a negative tweet. I am not rude like that….BUT I am allowed to have an opinion, and say it with friends on Twitter. I got blocked because he didn’t like what I had to say to my friends. He had to be searching GH hashtags to do this… and blocked accordingly. Now that is way immature and embarrassing on his part. I could understand if I was rude to him directly…but that was not the case. Very thin skinned and VERY IMMATURE. Someone needs to tell him to grow up and act professional.

    • Profile photo of logan_echolls

      Ron has mentioned on twitter that he goes through GH hashtags and blocks ppl whose comments he doesn’t like. It makes no sense because he’s only blocking you tweeting him, he can’t block not seeing your tweet when he scrolls the GH hashtag. Ron’s not use to ppl telling him the truth. You can tell he was a real fan of OLTL. He’s not a real fan of GH like he claims.

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