My favorite show of the year came and went in just two jam-packed hours. Twice a year, I make the 30 minute drive over to the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel for the bi-annual Chiller Theatre Expo. I believe this was the 25th Chiller show, and had quite the enviable guest list. First appearances, old favorites, and of course the usual lineup of convention circuit regulars. Award-winning actress Ann-Margret and Mike Nesmith of The Monkees headlined the show, with second billing going to film & television stars to span the decades, as well as enough professional wrestlers to hold a battle royal.
As usual, I purchased a preshow ticket and got in at 5 o’clock. Almost all of the stars were already stationed at their tables, price lists up, and Sharpies in hand. The crowds were light, allowing traffic and air to flow smoothly. I came in, got pictures & signatures from everyone I needed, did plenty of socializing, had a hot dog, and still made it out in two hours.
Overall, it was a great show as always. Couldn’t believe how fast I finished up in there. Again, a special thanks to Kevin Clement, his Chiller staff, and to all of the stars who travel from literally all corners of the world to spend the weekend with their fans.
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.
Sunday was probably the busiest of days for me, and the day that I felt was most dedicated to celebrating 50 years of GH. Starting off the morning was Breakfast with Genie Francis. This was Genie’s first event and while added on fairly late in the game, it sold out, and I believe was the first event to do so. I felt bad, her event overlapped Haley Pullos’ annual event, and while usually very popular, it took a huge hit in attendance. I had foolishly opted to sleep in when Genie appeared at our local Sears back in 2006, so for me, meeting her was a longtime coming. Her husband, Jonathan Frakes, also popped in towards the end to give her a ride home. This event was run by Sheri Evans of soapstarfanevents.com.
To mark the 50th Anniversary, the highly popular Past Cast Reunion returned. Last held for the 45th Anniversary, this event included stars from GH, Port Charles, & Night Shift. Attending stars included Rachel Ames (Audrey), Sam Behrens (Jake), Angel Boris Reed (Angel), Tamara Braun (Carly), Brianna Brown (Lisa), Susan Brown (Gail), Christine Carlo (Leticia), Dylan Cash (Michael), Maree Cheatham (Charlene), Michael Cole (Harlan), Michael Dietz (Joe), Josh Duhon (Logan), Scott Egan (Johnny), Kiko Ellsworth (Stan/Jamal) Brian Gaskill (Rafe), Michael Gregory (Rick), Adam Grimes (Kyle), Peter Hansen (Lee), Vanita Harbour (Dara), Rick Hearst (Ric), Gerald Hopkins (AJ), Wally Kurth (Ned), Edie Lehmann Boddicker (Katherine), Lindze Letherman (Georgie), Jen Lilley (Maxie), Ronnie Marmo (Ronnie), Lilly Melgar (Lily), Rick Moses (Hutch), Hugo Napier (Larry), Cynthia Preston (Faith), John Reilly (Sean), Cheryl Richardson Smith (Jenny), Chris Robinson (Rick), Rebecca Staab (Elizabeth), Julian Stone (Jerry), Gregory Zarian (Julius), & Jacklyn Zeman (Bobbie). One of the nice things about this event was that my friend Wayne came along with his friend Michael Cole, so I got to see him for a change.
Prior to the start of the event, one of the ladies at my table returned to say Cynthia Preston was outside telling security that someone was feeling faint. Knowing that Ames, Brown, and Hansen were all present, this had me a little worried, so I went to go check things out. The excitement was over a fan throwing up in the bathroom allocated for the stars’ use. At this point, Peter too had ventured out of the green room to find out what was going on. He remarked at how cool and quiet the lobby area was. “I’m 91 and it’s loud!!!” He ushered for Rachel and Susan to join him. Jim Warren spotted me watching this transpire and asked me to look after them until the event got underway. I was honored. I quick texted Mom and she came out with the camera to capture this historic shot, one I later heard called “the best pic of the FCW.” This trio of legends would not be staying for the meet and greet, so this was the only chance to see them. I remained with them until the rest of the cast came out for the event to start.
The meet and greet for this event was just as crazy as Saturday’s main event. Lines for Hearst, Kurth, Letherman, Reilly, and Zeman stretched across the ballroom. Luckily, Mom and I tagged team, and we were able to knock out quite a number of stars. Not everybody, but we put in a good dent.
Immediately following the Past Cast event, I escorted Jackie Zeman over to an event hosted by Kin Shriner, one I was looking most forward to. The guy’s a legend. I had heard many negative stories about Kin, but he has always been very good to me. His event was filled with special guests and great stories. Photographer Jim Warren ran this event. In addition to Jackie, Michael Cole and Josh Duhon also came in to surprise Kin. Josh stuck around for the meet & greet, so I grabbed a signed photo, as I had passed up a autograph from him on Thursday evening.
As soon as Kin’s event was over, I headed over to an event hosted by Tyler Christopher. Originally, I had no intention of going to this event, but when Stephen Nichols was announced as the special guest the morning of, I quickly bought a ticket. I made to this event in time for autographs & pictures. I was perfectly fine with missing the Q&A because I’ve never really found Tyler’s events to be particularly interesting. This was another event run by Sheri Evans.
There were a lot of other events on Sunday. Bradford Anderson & Brandon Barash’s event overlapped with Kin’s and Tyler’s. Then later on, there was a Girls Night In hosted by Teresa Castillo and Emily Wilson. And also an intimate concert with Scott Reeves dubbed Nashville Nights. After Tyler’s, I witnessed a bus crash in front of the hotel, something that would occur at a GH function, and then had a nice dinner down the road at Jerry’s. And I believe I actually got a good sleep. Only one more day…