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. With registration beginning at 9 and doors opening at 10, I met up with my good buddy Wayne for breakfast at Conrad’s at 7:30. I’ll admit, I was worried with how many actors would come, especially after Thursday night’s poor turnout. With a much smaller events venue, I wasn’t sure how they would fit everyone. Lunch was to be served in the main ballroom with the cast moving out into the hallway, atrium, and other smaller rooms to do autographs and pictures. I never got an exact number of attendees, but I was told it was somewhere between 300-350. This year’s gift given to all attendees was a signed 4×6 photo of Anthony Geary, something I would much rather have than yet another coffee mug.
While we anxiously waited for the cast to arrive, raffles, silent auctions, and live auctions consumed us. I paid $120 for Luke Spencer’s “Dr. Von Scheemerman” disguise worn by the legendary Anthony Geary. Warming up the crowd, longtime GH boom operator Sandy Masone came out to applause. With GH since 1977, Sandy is the GH mascot, beloved by cast, crew, and fans.
As usual, the cast had quit a difficult time assembling themselves for the Introductions. Typically hosted by John J. York, John was MIA this year and the cast efficiently introduced each other. My fears were calmed when 34 cast members and Executive Producer Frank Valentini came out to thunderous applause. Stars in attendance were (in alphabetical order) Vinessa Antoine (Jordan), Brandon Barash (Johnny), Nicolas Bechtel (Spencer), Maurice Benard (Sonny), Rebecca Budig (Hayden), Ryan Carnes (Lucas), Teresa Castillo (Sabrina), Bryan Craig (Morgan), William deVry (Julian), Chad Duell (Michael), Sonya Eddy (Epiphany), Hayley Erin (Kiki), Kathleen Gati (Obrecht), Rick Hearst (Ric), Finola Hughes (Anna), Lisa LoCicero (Olivia), Ryan Paevey (Nathan), Jeffrey Vincent Parise (Carlos), Haley Pullos (Molly), Tequan Richmond (TJ), Emme Rylan (Lulu), Marc Anthony Samuel (Felix), Brytni Sarpy (Valerie), Parry Shen (Brad), Kin Shriner (Scott), Brooklyn Silzer (Emma), Michelle Stafford (Nina), Kirsten Storms (Maxie), Jason Thompson (Patrick), Elena Tovar (Rosalie), Robert Palmer Watkins (Dillon), Maura West (Ava), Laura Wright (Carly), and Dominic Zamprogna (Dante).
Ryan Carnes & Marc Samuel hosted the Q&A. The first question/comment was directed at Frank Valentini and was in regards to Michael Easton’s firing. I felt the comment was in poor taste, as did Laura Wright, who intervened and put the angry fan in her place. That was really the only fire ignited durig the Q&A. Ryan & Marc kept things brief allowing more time for autographs and photos. Amazingly, I had previously met everyone present, so unlike years past where I was stressed and running around, I just moseyed along table to table and got who I could. New mother Lisa LoCicero left during the Q&A to get home to her new daughter. And Dominic Zamprogna, who was absent for the Q&A, came in time for the meet and greet. Unsurprisingly, Rebecca Budig made a beeline for the exit, whilst a ton of fans lined up unsuspectingly at her table.
And with that, I had gotten to see everyone I had not already seen that weekend or would not later be seeing, with the exception of Maurice Benard, Bryan Craig, and Maura West. Maurice was in a rare mood, and was an absolute delight with the fans, actually laughing and smiling for photographs. And Maura, well let’s just say that Maura was feeling no pain that afternoon, not even when she fell down on her way out.
Immediately following the luncheon, illustrious GH photographer Jim Warren held the Sonny & Sons event with Maurice, Chad, and Bryan; and Kathleen Gati teamed up with Sonya Eddy to celebrate Gati’s birthday and 3rd anniversary with GH. Later that night, Vinessa Antoine’s event ran back to back with Jason Thompson & Dominic Zamprogna’s annual event with special guest Emme Rylan. I went to the latter event, as the trio’s NJ event in June was canceled at the last minute. They started with autographs and photos to ensure that the fans got everything they wanted. Emme took forever doing that because she’s such a sweetheart and spent so much time with everyone. Meanwhile, Dom & Jason began the Q&A. It was a nice event, funny trio, and somehow I managed to stay awake and present for the duration of the event.
When the event concluded around 12:30 AM, I headed back to my room and quickly went to bed. I didn’t have any events until the afternoon on Sunday, so I was looking forward to sleeping in for a change.
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.