As is the norm, Saturday ended up being my longest day of the weekend with three back-to-back events, the first being the Main Event Luncheon. To allow the fans more one-on-one time with the actors during the autograph & photo session, the typical, hour-long Q&A was eliminated, much to my satisfaction. In years past, the actors talked for so long, the meet & greet would sometimes only run for an hour and a half, this year, we got two solid hours. With the Q&A eliminated, and therefore no stage, they were able to add additional tables to the room and sell more tickets than the past couple of years. I’d say attendance was no less than 250 fans.
While the actors assembled for their introduction, a mini Q&A was hosted by Maurice Benard, James DePaiva, Chad Duell, Michael Easton, Lisa LoCicero, Kin Shriner, and Dominic Zamprogna. This was perfect, as it was held while we were eating and did not interfere with the meet & greet time. Actor attendance overall was 29, down 10 from last year. Attending stars, in alphabetical order, were Lexi Ainsworth (Kristina), Maurice Benard (Sonny), Ryan Carnes (Lucas), Dioni Michelle Collins (Deanna), James DePaiva (David), William deVry (Julian), Risa Dorken (Amy), Chad Duell (Michael), Michael Easton (Finn), Hayley Erin (Kiki), Scarlett Fernandez (Charlotte), Kathleen Gati (Obrecht), Carolyn Hennesy (Diane), Ashley Jones (Parker), Wally Kurth (Ned), Chloe Lanier (Nelle), Lisa LoCicero (Olivia), Eden McCoy (Josslyn), Haley Pullos (Molly), Marc Anthony Samuel (Felix), Kin Shriner (Scott), Brooklyn Rae Silzer (Emma), Garren Stitt (Oscar), Kirsten Storms (Maxie), James Patrick Stuart (Valentin), Donnell Turner (Curtis), Robert Palmer Watkins (Dillon), Hudson West (Jake), and Dominic Zamprogna (Dante).
Needing to see just DePaiva, Jones, & Stitt, the meet & greet would be a breeze-through for me. DePaiva bolted after the introductions, leaving me with just two stars to see and everyone else being a nice added bonus.
After accomplishing all I needed to from the Main Event, I enjoyed an edible meal at Conrad’s, next door to the Embassy, as the lunch they served up left a lot to be desired. I then went back to the hotel for the next event – 40 Years of Kin Shriner and Jacklyn Zeman. I attend Kin’s event every year, and I have attended all of Jackie’s east coast events. I love these two human beings. They are funny, compassionate, and share more history than dozens of their costars combined. While intended to be a celebration of 40 years, the event also acted as a tribute to Peter Hansen, Kin’s onscreen father, who we lost back in April. The memories were flowing, as was the celebratory champagne, and a delicious anniversary cake.
Immediately following Jackie & Kin’s event, I ran next door to Crab Ave, where a few of my favorite ladies were hosting a paint party. Full of laughs, paint, and drinks – Hayley Erin, Chloe Lanier, and Brytni Sarpy hosted this event, with special guest Camryn Grimes, and produced by the lovely Debby O’Connor of YourNumberOneFan.
Following the paint party, the majority of attendees went over to One Night Only with Michael Easton and Roger Howarth and their special guests Melissa Archer and Rebecca Budig, I called it a night.
Part One (Thursday): General Hospital Fan Club Weekend 2017- Part 1
Part Two (Friday): General Hospital Fan Club Weekend 2017- Part 2
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.
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.
Like I’ve said previously, April is a busy month for me. Yesterday, April 12, I took a ride down to the Fairbridge Hotel & Conference Center in East Hanover, NJ, for the second annual General Hospital Fantasy Weekend. Conceived last year by Dino Ibelli of Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club and Linda Rohe of Coastal Entertainment, Fantasy Weekend is the east coast’s largest GH event bringing 10 cast members to New York and New Jersey for a weekend of events dedicated to the fans. I didn’t attend the inaugural event last April, but I won tickets to this year’s back in October at the Soap Fantasy Reunion event. Naturally, I’ve met the entire group of stars already, but honestly, I just can’t get enough of these folks.
Representing the #1 cast in daytime were Ian Buchanan (Duke Lavery), Tyler Christopher (Nikolas Cassadine), William deVry (Julian Jerome), Kathleen Gati (Dr. Liesl Obrecht), Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis Davis), Rick Hearst (Ric Lansing), Wally Kurth (Ned Ashton), Ryan Paevey (Nathan West), Michelle Stafford (Nina Clay), & Laura Wright (Carly Jacks).
I’m not even going to try and explain the flow of the event, because if you weren’t there, you’ll be confused. The event went a little longer than planned, but honestly, I was just so happy to be there, time flew right by.
The day was well spent in the company of so many friends I have made at these events over the years. I am truly honored to be able to call the amazing cast of General Hospital my friends. They are without a doubt, the sweetest people on this earth. And that also can be said for Kathleen’s husband, Michael, and Nancy’s daughter, Kate. A special thanks to Dino, Linda, Paula, and the two charities, Contractors for Kids and Tunnel to Towers. Looking forward to the next event!!!