Dominic Zamprogna (Dante), Jason Cook (Matt), Steve Burton (Jason), Kalup… (Ron Tom/ ABC )
As it gears up to celebrate its 50th anniversary, “General Hospital” is the last soap standing on ABC. And it hopes its aging knees don’t buckle soon.
Executive producer Frank Valentini was joined by some of the sudser’s cast Thursday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour — and it wasn’t long before they found themselves addressing a shifiting daytime landscape. From a high of nearly 20 daily series, only four remain: NBC's "Days of Our Lives,"CBS' "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful," and ABC's "General Hospital."
“I think everyone seems to enjoy cutting-edge things these days,” said Nancy Lee Grahn, who has played Alexis Davis on the sudser since 1996. “But there's something to really be valued about tradition and something that is familiar and makes people feel comfortable and is generational and inclusive.”
Addressing the passionate devotion soap opera fans have displayed as shows such as “One Life to Live' and “All My Children” have gone off the air, Davis added: “These people have watched ‘General Hospital’ for 50 years — the grandmothers, the mothers, the kids. One generation takes it to the other.”
Valentini, who came into the gig this year soon after “One Life to Live” — where he served as executive producer for nine years — wrapped its run, said the fan dedication goes beyong the generational scope. “I think it’s about storytelling. [Soap operas] address the fantasy of family, the fantasy of love, the fantasy of friendship … bedrocks of what this nation is about. People look to these shows as touchstones.”
For those looking to "General Hospital"to fulfill that need, they'll now have to tune in an hour earlier this fall as the soap moves to 2 p.m. ET (an hour earlier from its previous time) to make room for Katie Couric's new syndicated talk show— another attempt at the network to revamp its daytime lineup.
Couric during an earlier panel admitted she's all too aware of the loyal fanbase soap operas have, joking that one need only look at her Twitter feed to get a sense of the pushback she's received.
"Soap operas have a huge following," she said. "I think that they fill a need for a lot of people," adding that she thinks that can "peacefully coexist" with other daytime shows.
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