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. Avatar of GHFan777
    GHFan777

    Oh and I agree with GHteenybopper that he gets a lot of his ideas from Twitter for dialogue…at least his script writers do ie Fluke…BUT is that really surprising??? As most of his story lines in progress have roots or foundation from GH history and past story lines. He has trouble coming up with original ideas. …He has no clue about character development…he is strictly all about camp, plot points and stunt casting. Nothing substantial to really build a good story line on.

  2. Avatar of SoapStud70
    SoapStud70

    I love GH since Carlivati and Valentini took over and can’t wait to watch it every single day, even when it’s a “no action” day. Is Ron a perfect person? Of course not, he makes mistakes just like the rest of us only he’s got a lot more people ready to rip him to shreds for it. And who of us would not defend ourselves against the things being said to him? His job is to write the show as he sees fit, not to please every single fan. Being the head writer for any television show is not an easy job and I’m thankful his work has kept GH and the actors we love on the air.

    • Avatar of logan_echolls
      logan_echolls

      Yet strange how ABC refuses to invest any money into this show. Instead they spend money on Tyra Banks who already had a failed talk show. 2 yrs ago GH was being advertised everywhere even on ABC own news shows, now? Stunt casting can only raise ratings so far.

  3. Avatar of soapbaby
    soapbaby

    In the words of Emma Scorpio Drake: “With please?!” Ron Carvialti is a deluded one-trick pony just like Jill Farren Phelps. The difference is that the “soap press” love him and hates her. Perhaps if GH were given a cancellation notice tomorrow the show would improve just OLTL in it’s final six months on ABC.

  4. Avatar of Jefferson7
    Jefferson7

    I watched GH faithfully from the 70′s until late 2001/early 2002 when JFP and Megan McTavish were in charge. I tuned in last year ONLY because of the return of the Nurse’s Ball with no intention of making it a habit, but I haven’t missed an episode since. GH might not be Agnes Nixon’s AMC or Doug Marland’s ATWT, but it entertains me and I like it. I’m glad I tuned back in.

  5. Avatar of Kellie
    Kellie

    I think the show is better this year than last year so hopefully next year will be their year. No osap is going to be perfect at all ties they never get a break to regroup or take the summer off they’re always on. I think the show does a great job of trying to work within the genre. They give us nice little surprises and cameos that are interesting. And I like that more then 5 cast members get air time every week. Theyve done a great job of keeping the overuesed characters current while letting other flourish. Is every thing perfect…no. Pickle Lila was a drag and tbh the stavros return with lulu wasnt for me but I mean thats just the nature of soap. If you hate GH why are watching GH?

    And I have to say I have seen the really rude way people express disappointment to Ron on Twitter and I havent read all his comments to every fan but there seems to be this attitude that some fans have that they are this untouchable group and that actors and creators are meant to absorb all these “fans” rudeness without response. He’s a human being and you deserve to get smacked down by him if you’re being an asshole. you cant treat everyone horribly and then hide behind this sort of customer is always right attitude that people walk through life with. More than likely you contributed to the response you got from him…let it go because you people sound so petty to litter this comment section with butt hurt crap.

    • Avatar of Cornfed
      Cornfed

      Kellile, i see you became a member 1 day ago, possibly a CarToony recruit?

      The first 17 episodes of June, and Paevey and Stafford were in FIFTEEN of them. Nina was driving story before she ever even materialized. Paevey’s attempt at acting are laughable, and his character orbits HALF of the stories on the show and he’s not even officially a Cassadine yet, to my knowledge. Listen, i’m a gay man AND HAVE NEVER EVER EVER watched soaps to merely see hot guys, and it’s obvious that Carlivati drools over this color contacts Cue Card Cop character. Speaking for myself only, it’s the older female characters that rocked my boat on a regular basis the past 30+ years, tho i admit to high school crushes on Wayne Northrup and Peter Reckell LOL

      There are 3-4 more new characters coming on board shortly, and possibly 1-2 recasts. This show needs to rename itself, b/c it’s piggybacking on GH’s legacy — Gloria Monty, Pat Falken Smith, Wendy Riche, Claire Labine & partially Bob Guza’s hard work! The show picked up new viewers when Stafford came on board, but i would think they’d be in for a shock at what CarToony considers riveting [character-driven] drama.

    • Avatar of Cornfed
      Cornfed

      Also it’s been stated here that followers are blocked WHO AREN’T EVEN ATTACKING CARLIVATI DIRECTLY…he’s merely searching hash tags. Beyond immature.

    • Avatar of soapbaby
      soapbaby

      @Cornfed: I couldn’t agree with you more. Especially the crushes on Wayne Northrup and Peter Reckell!
      I’m not impressed with Michelle Stafford’s acting and I enjoyed her on Y&R as Phyllis. Nina’s storyline has never worked and I’m only looking forward to either Sam or (better yet) Kiki going off the roof ala OLTL’s Marty/Natalie!

  6. Avatar of ChrisGa
    ChrisGa

    Well, based on how he behaves on Twitter sometimes, he’s not nearly as judicious about how he reacts as he says he is. Still, for the most part, I find GH highly enjoyable, pretty much on a daily basis. There are things I would change–sorry Ron, but Tracy Angelica Quartermaine is one of the smartest characters in daytime and she most certainly IS being written as dumb right now–but that’s with just about anything. The good on this show far outweighs the bad IMO.

  7. Avatar of SoapArmageddon
    SoapArmageddon

    Wait…so now he’s calling people who take issue with his writing “haters”? This is exactly why I prefer not to know too much or hear from the people who handle the behind-the-scenes stuff (writers, EPs, etc.); they can turn you against a show completely.

  8. Avatar of bobbyew
    bobbyew

    Carlavati makes minor mistake but GH is full steam ahead. Jesus was the only perfect human and thats because a book that has been wriiten, translated over and over just like a soap tells us that.

  9. Avatar of stoney07
    stoney07

    It all balances out. Fans are rude to him on Twitter. He’s rude to fans on Twitter. A lot of people think his writing is crap. Soap critics lick his asshole.

    See? It’s all balanced and equal. No biggie. LOL

  10. Avatar of logan_echolls
    logan_echolls

    One more issue is who really gets surprised by anything on GH anymore? I remember some of us was saying that Ava was going to end up pregnant and that’s why Sonny doesn’t kill her. Ron’s disciples attacked me on twitter when I said she was pregnant and some her said we were dumb to think that. Then boom, she’s pregnant. Just like everyone knew Nina was alive and could walk. The only surprise was that she trashed Silas apt. And who doesn’t know that Ron’s shining new robotic toy is going to be a Cassadine? Name one thing that has happened in 2 yrs that has shocked anyone?

    • Avatar of Yoryla
      Yoryla

      Omg, Swan – what a PERFECT list and a description of everything that is *wrong* in the GH universe!!!

      I most *especially* agreed with this one!

      “Ava Jerome: Enough is enough. You shot Olivia, killed Connie, framed AJ, slept with your son-in-law, set up AJ’s death by mobster, had sleazy crypt sex with your boyfriend’s father, threatened everyone in town and betrayed your brother. It’s time to die.”

  11. Avatar of pferrando
    pferrando

    I think a lot of the “critics” that felt GH was the best show were in love with the revival of the show. From what fans said, the show still had numerous issues, and still does. PLUS it seems the real issue was with the submission itself and NOT the quality of the show last year.

    I can’t stand the guy.

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