On the evening of August 20th, I took the short ride over to the New Jersey landmark, Bookends in Ridgewood, to meet legendary radio & television personality Pat O’Brien, former CBS Sports sportscaster and host of Access Hollywood and The Insider. The crowd was small, making this a very intimate event. Pat came down and held a lengthy Q&A/discussion on his years in the sports & entertainment industry. With only a few questions asked, Pat took the time to tell many tales and encounters with, but not limited to, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Robin Williams. He then wrapped things up so he could sign and take pictures with the fans.
Thanks to Pat O’Brien for coming down to Bookends and to Walter and his staff, who never fail to put on a great event.
Last night, I took a two hour drive down to the Cherry Hill Crowne Plaza for Monster-Mania Con 28, Philadelphia’s semi-annual horror film and memorabilia convention. While I never need all that many people at this show, their prices are typically lower than other area shows and that makes it worth the drive. There were a few cancellations and a couple of late additions, but the draws were the original dynamic duo, Batman stars Adam West & Burt Ward; seven stars from The Walking Dead; a Return of the Living Dead reunion; and actors Mads Mikkelson, Verne Troyer, and fresh off the set of Star Wars Episode VII, Peter Mayhew. The longest lines of the evening went to WWE Legend ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun. Piper just liked to took and take his time with the fans, while Yeun’s line grew rapidly while he was eating dinner. I stopped for dinner along the way, but by the time I arrived, I got who I needed and had quite a bit of time to spend chatting with friends.
Special thanks to the Hagan family for putting on another fantastic show, which is one of the few that still caters to the fans. While I am not always able to attend every Monster-Mania, I hope I get back down there soon!!!
Sunday promised to be a busy day from the get-go. I had tickets for four events, all of which overlapped each other at some point, and then they moved Emme Rylan & Teresa Castillo’s event from Friday morning to Sunday morning, bringing my event count up to 5. I know when enough is enough, so I had the ticket transferred to my mother. I needed to catch up on some much needed sleep before the big Blast from the Past event. After the amazing time I had at the event last year, I couldn’t help but look forward to it all year long. As with the Main Event, attendance was down from about 400 to under 200. Actor attendance was strong though, with 32 past cast members reuniting. Attendees included: Jack Axelrod (Victor Jerome), Brandon Barash (Johnny Zacchara), Robyn Bernard (Terry Brock), Loanne Bishop (Rose Kelly), Andrea Bogart (Abby Haver), Brianna Brown (Lisa Niles), Susan Brown (Gail Baldwin), Christine Carlo (Leticia Juarez), Crystal Carson (Julia Barrett), Dylan Cash (Michael Corinthos), Maree Cheatham (Charlene Simpson), Scott Clifton (Dillon Quartermaine), Michael Cole (Harlan Barrett), Kiko Ellsworth (Stan Johnson/Jamal Woods), Brian Gaskill (Rafe Kovich), Blake Gibbons (Coleman), Adam Grimes (Kyle Julian), Rib Hillis (Jake Marshak), Anne Jeffreys (Amanda Barrington), Kodi Kitchen (Maggie Wurth), Stephen Macht (Trevor Lansing), Guy Mack (Patrick O’Connor), Ronnie Marmo (Ronnie Dimestico), Lilly Melgar (Lily Rivera Corinthos), Rick Moses (Jefferson Smith ‘Hutch’ Hutchins), Susan Pratt (Anne Logan), John Reilly (Sean Donely), Rebecca Staab (Elizabeth Barrington), Julian Stone (Jerry Jacks), Michael Sutton (Stone Cates), Tonja Walker (Olivia Jerome), & Gregory Zarian (Julius). In addition to these past cast favorites, Kirsten Storms (Maxie) was glued to husband Brandon Barash’s (Johnny) side and Kin Shriner (Scott) used to event as an opportunity to catch up with old friends. Peter Hansen (Lee Baldwin) was also slated to appear, but phoned Susan Brown to say he had woken up early to go to church and was too tired to attend the event.
I ended up in the green room helping out Susan Brown and spent quite a bit of time sitting and chatting with her & Anne Jeffreys. This experience also provided an eye opening look at Robyn Bernard, who was definitely the life of the party.
Anyways, our fun in the green room came to an end as emcee Ronnie Marmo (Ronnie) began to introduce these fan favorites from GH’s glory days. I believe I got pictures of everyone in attendance, whether they were shots of them on the stage or of me with them. The only one I missed was Andrea Bogart (Abby Haver), who was only on hand for the autograph & photo session.
When the event was over, I enjoyed a drink & a smoke with John Reilly’s lovely wife Liz and my pal, longtime GH crew member, Sandy Masone. In other words, the three of us gossiped about pretty much every person there and not there.
I took my time with Liz & Sandy while Kathleen Gati’s (Obrecht) event got underway. As soon as I saw the buffet table lined with desserts, I knew this would be a good one. Ryan Paevey (Nathan) had said he would join her, but he backed out, and Ryan Carnes (Lucas) took his place, but he wasn’t the only guest. A huge surprise to the fans was the GHFCW return of Sonya Eddy (Epiphany), who hasn’t attended in years. After a hilarious Q&A, Sonya agreed to stay and be a part of the autograph & photo session to much fanfare.
The always gracious host, Debby O’Connor, made sure I was out of Kathleen’s event in time to go over to Kin Shriner’s event. With Saturday being Kin’s 37th Anniversary at GH, this event promised to be a good one, and with his buddy Jim Warren running the event, some surprises were in store. It’s hard to cram 37 years worth of tales into 2 hours, but Kin managed to do so. The event concluded with Kin’s Port Charles costar Michael Dietz (Joe) arriving with a big anniversary cake, which we all received a piece of.
After Kin’s event, I went over to my final event for the weekend- A Night with Kirsten Storms (Maxie), Brandon Barash (Johnny), & Bradford Anderson (Spinelli). I was pretty late to this event, but it started late, so I didn’t really miss a heck of a lot.
And that’s the end. Another GH Weekend is in the books. I didn’t stick around for Monday’s events, but after Sunday’s jam-packed day, I just had to get home and sleep in my own bed. A special heartfelt thanks to Debbie Morris & the General Hospital Fan Club; Jim Warren; Debby O’Connor; Sheri Evans; the Findom; Alberto & the rest of the staff at the Sportsmen’s Lodge; my fellow fans & volunteers; Frank Valentini; and of course the amazing cast & crew of General Hospital, both past & present.
Saturday is the biggest day of the weekend and is consumed mostly by the Main Event. Hosted by 23 year veteran John J. York, this event is attended by pretty much the entire current cast, and there seems to be more of them each year. Not sure if I touched based on this before, but fan attendance was down by nearly 50% from last year’s events. Last year’s Main Event had about 600 fans, this year, maybe only 300. While that is certainly not a good thing from a business point of view, it gave those of us in attendance a better chance at getting to see all of our favorites, as well as the pleasure of short lines, something that was alien in previous years.
In addition to emcee John J. York (Mac), who stopped at my table during his walk to the stage to give me a hug, actors in attendance were: Kristen Alderson (Kiki), Vinessa Antoine (Jordan), Sean Blakemore (Shawn), Ian Buchanan (Duke), Ryan Carnes (Lucas), Teresa Castillo (Sabrina), Drew Cheetwood (Milo), Bryan Craig (Morgan), Jimmy Deshler (ex Rafe), William deVry (Julian), Chad Duell (Michael), Michael Easton (Silas), Zachary Garred (Levi), Kathleen Gati (Obrecht), Rick Hearst (Ric), Lynn Herring (Lucy), Jaxon & Jakob Kring (Danny), Jon Lindstrom (Kevin), Lisa LoCicero (Olivia), Donna Mills (Madeline), Hannah Nordberg (Josslyn), Jeffrey Parise (Carlos), Thaao Penghlis (Victor), Haley Pullos (Molly), Emme Rylan (Lulu), Marc Samuel (Felix), Parry Shen (Brad), Kin Shriner (Scott), Brooklyn Silzer (Emma), Michelle Stafford (Nina), Kirsten Storms (Maxie), Kelly Thiebaud (Britt), Jason Thompson (Patrick), Linda Tovar (Rosalie), Maura West (Ava), Laura Wright (Carly), Dominic Zamprogna (Dante), & Jacklyn Zeman (Bobbie). Executive Producer Frank Valentini was also there to field questions and meet the fans; former cast member Brandon Barash (Johnny) was there with wife Kirsten Storms; and All My Children veteran Cady McClain (Dixie) accompanied her husband, Jon Lindstrom.
After the Main Event, I had a little bit of downtime which was spent in the air conditioned room that Michael Easton’s event would be held in. Having been a Jim Warren event, I was put to work helping out with line control. At this point in the day, everyone was hot, exhausted, and had just been royally snubbed by Knots Landing star William Devane, but that’s another story. This event may have been one of the most popular ones the weekend had to offer as Michael rarely holds his own events.
Now I had a few hours of downtime before going over to Kelly Sullivan (ex Connie) & Julie Berman’s (ex Lulu) event, An Evening with Jules and Kel, Part Deux. This event was run by Debby O’Connor, so I lent a hand doing registration and opted to sit in the back where I had more room as opposed to one of the crowded tables. Despite neither being a part of the show any longer, this was a highly attended event. They had many special guests- Jimmy Deshler (Rafe), William deVry (Julian), Jeffrey Parise (Carlos), Haley Pullos (Molly), Jason Thompson (Patrick), & Dominic Zamprogna (Dante). While deVry was the only one of their guests to stay for the autograph & photo session, I was able to get him to sign my 50th Anniversary book while he was briefly there.
At some point during this busy event, I ran over to the room where Ryan Paevey (Nathan) was holding his event. Ryan didn’t attend the Main Event, so Jim Warren let me run in for a quick photograph and an autograph. Zachary Garred (Levi) also attended and brought along the photos that he had told me to write to him for, so that was an added bonus.
After a couple of nights with little sleep, I was easily out like a light on Saturday after an event filled day.
Originally, I had no events planned for Friday and intended on spending the day sightseeing. However, one of the event coordinators, Debby O’Connor of YourNumberOneFan, asked me if I wouldn’t mind helping her and crew out at their events. I had lunch plans, but I accepted her offer in preparing for the first event of the morning. That event was Breakfast with Ryan Carnes (Lucas) & Jimmy Deshler (Rafe Jr.). With about 20 fans in attendance, the event ran smoothly and featured a surprise appearance by Brian Gaskill (Rafe Sr.). I had already gotten Ryan & Jimmy the night before, but I had never met Brian before, so I was glad I had been recruited to help out.
After the event concluded, I headed off for lunch with friends, missing Debby’s next event, Lunch with Bryan Craig (Morgan) & Kelly Thiebaud (Britt). Debby told me if I made it back in time, to swing by and see Bryan & Kelly, so I did just that, and also had the chance to meet their dog, Ranger.
Late that afternoon, I contemplated doing something, and I did it, whether I did for the better or not, I am not quite sure. That contemplation was attending Finola Hughes’ (Anna) annual charity event hosted by the Findom. Promoted guests were Ian Buchanan (Duke) & Michelle Stafford (Nina). I needed Finola to finish up an 8×10 for me, Ian’s just a doll, and I never met Michelle before. My friend and I bought tickets at the door and attended what would ultimately turn out to be Finola & Ian’s event. Michelle was held up at the studio and never showed. Was it worth the $95? Eh, but all monies went to charity, Childhelp, and that’s my good deed for the day.