Ah yes, my loyal readers, it is that time of year again. I have just returned home from my annual pilgrimage to General Hospital Fan Club Weekend, and I have been anxious to share my experience with all of you.
Before we get into GHFCW, as an added bonus for all of you soap fans out there, the evening before the Kick Off, I went out to dinner and bumped into longtime All My Children star Peter White. Peter portrayed Linc Tyler, the legal eagle son of Phoebe & Charles, on-and-off for 31 years. Peter was great, and enjoyed regaling us with tales from his AMC days, and was extremely gracious enough to scoot over in his booth so we could take photos with him.
Now onto GHFCW. First up for Thursday night was the Kick Off Event. I say it each and every year – the Kick Off is great because it functions as a preview night and allows us access to a nice little ensemble of the cast prior to the chaos of Saturday’s luncheon. This year, 12 stars attended, 3 of whom were new to the cast. My regular readers will know I first go for the newbies, and anyone after that is a nice added bonus. Attending stars were Ryan Carnes (Lucas), Dioni Michelle Collins (Deanna), Risa Dorken (Amy), Scarlett Fernandez (Charlotte), Carolyn Hennesy (Diane), Haley Pullos (Molly) Marc Anthony Samuel (Felix), Kirsten Storms (Maxie), Robert Palmer Watkins (Dillon), Vernee Watson (Stella), Hudson West (Jake), and Dominic Zamprogna (Dante). I would be seeing Rob the next night at his own event, so I skipped him, and was able to get all but Dominic, who I have met many, many times anyway.
While the Kick Off used to be the official start of the weekend, this year it was actually preceded by two events – Ryan Carnes’ and a dual event hosted by William deVry & Robert Palmer Watkins. It was followed by Donnell Turner’s event, with special guest Vernee Watson.
Part Two (Friday): General Hospital Fan Club Weekend 2017- Part 2
Part Three (Saturday): General Hospital Fan Club Weekend 2017- Part 3
Part Four (Sunday): General Hospital Fan Club Weekend 2017- Part 4
Last Sunday, October 23rd, I attended the fall incarnation of General Hospital Fantasy Weekend, We Want More, showcasing the series’ fan favorites who the audience does not get to see onscreen as much as they would like to. Eight actors attended, a mix of recurring stars and stars to have recently exited, they were Ian Buchanan (Duke), Bryan Craig (Morgan), Sonya Eddy (Epiphany), Kathleen Gati (Obrecht), Rick Hearst (Ric), Carolyn Hennesy (Diane), Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Carlos/Joe), and Marc Anthony Samuel (Felix). Stalwart Kin Shriner was originally slated to attend, but canceled about a month prior, being replaced by Bryan Craig.
The event began with having the cast do the meet & greet first, which always works due to the fact that the fans are taken care of first and ensures our time with the cast is not cut short if the event runs over. They broke the cast into two groups – Buchanan, Eddy, Gati, & Samuel and Craig, Hearst, Hennesy, & Parise. Somehow, I found myself first in line, and was therefore the first fan to finish up.
The Q&A was good, I guess. I was extremely tired and cold, and somehow had begun to doze off a bit. All in all, it was a great group of stars. Quite possibly some of the most fan friendly that GH has to offer. As always, thank you to the stars, Dino, and Linda, for a day off well spent!!!
I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning to prepare for the flagship FCW event, the Main Cast Event. Again, the attendance was significantly smaller than last year, I believe dropping down to 260.
As tradition would have it, the cast had quit a difficult time assembling themselves for the introductions. A new face, well old face really, took the role of emcee this year – the great Kin Shriner (Scott). 39 actors attended, with reportedly seven confirmed actors being no-shows. Donning his Bob Hope jacket, Kin humorously introduced his castmates to much fanfare. Stars in attendance were (in alphabetical order) Vinessa Antoine (Jordan), Maurice Benard (Sonny), Rebecca Budig (Hayden), Matt Cohen (Griffin), Bryan Craig (Morgan), John DeLuca (Aaron), William deVry (Julian), Risa Dorken (Amy), Michael Easton (Finn), Sonya Eddy (Epiphany), Hayley Erin (Kiki), Kathleen Gati (Obrecht), Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), Carolyn Hennesy (Diane), Roger Howarth (Franco), Wally Kurth (Ned), Chloe Lanier (Nelle), Jon Lindstrom (Kevin), Lisa LoCicero (Olivia), Eden McCoy (Josslyn), Kelly Monaco (Sam), Anthony Montgomery (Andre), Ryan Paevey (Nathan), Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Joe), Haley Pullos (Molly), Emme Rylan (Lulu), Marc Anthony Samuel (Felix), Brytni Sarpy (Valerie), Parry Shen (Brad), Michelle Stafford (Nina), Kirsten Storms (Maxie) and daughter Harper Rose Barash (Georgie), James Patrick Stuart (Valentin), Donnell Turner (Curtis), Robert Palmer Watkins (Dillon), Hudson West (Jake), Dominic Zamprogna (Dante), and lastly, the leader of the pack, Executive Producer Frank Valentini.
As opposed to doing a tradition Q&A, Kin asked one question – What did you do before joining GH? Each actor answered, many of the responses were quite comical, and then cue the chaos – the meet & greet. I only needed four of the attendees – Cohen, DeLuca, Montgomery, and Stuart. Montgomery bailed at the completion of the Q&A leaving me with just three names to get, an easy feat. Once I finished up with the new guys, it was off to see old favorites, all of whom were added bonuses at this point. It seemed like the cast had a variety of excuses for leaving early this year, so as the number of actors dwindled down, the remaining lines grew longer.
I had about an hour break to rest before my next event – Kin Shriner & Maura West. If there’s one event during GHFCW that will make you laugh so hard you nearly cry, it is this one. Following in his father’s footsteps, Kin is a comedian at heart, and Maura is the perfect comic foil. Celebrating his 39th anniversary with GH, there was no shortage of age jokes. The stories were great, the jokes were great, the fans were great, and the talent was great. Easily, my pick for the best event of the weekend, even though Kin went home with two of my Sharpie markers.
And while everyone else headed off to see Kathleen Gati and later to Michael Easton & Roger Howarth’s One Night Only event, I headed out to eat and wind down from another awesome day.
While I was having fun, it was time for it to end. GH Weekend concluded on Monday with just a couple of events. The events were small as either most attendees had gone home or run out of money. Heck, maybe even both.
First up was a Debby O’Connor run event, Breakfast with Greg Vaughan. While Greg now stars on Days of our Lives, he never forgets his GH roots. While I personally could have skipped this one, my mother enjoys going, and he and I always chat about heaven and earth and everything in between, so I went.
Kimberly McCullough had a conflicting breakfast event with Jason Thompson and Kent King, but it was offsite and she overpriced it. I don’t know many people that went to it.
The final event was run by Sheri Evans and it was hosted by Carolyn Hennesy. Carolyn’s special guest was one of GH’s directors, Phideaux Xavier. This event got really boring and it was all over the place. I left and went and laid down in the room until it was time for the meet and greet.
And just as quickly as it all began, it was over. The actors had gone home, the fans had gone broke, and I went home with a lifetime of memories and eagerly looking forward to the next one.