On Saturday, April 1, I was very excited to take the short trip to Edison for the New Jersey Horror Con and Film Festival. I believe this was a first-time show, and for a first-time show to bring in as many names as they did, it was a nice surprise and put it on my watch list from the day it was announced. While it was far from the other NJ horror themed shows, NJ Horror Con provided a much more intimate atmosphere, and far friendlier pricing structures. Admission was $25, and table combos did not seem to exceed $30.
I had already met a number of these stars – Michael Berryman, Rick Hearst, Matthew Lillard, Tony Moran, and Sharon Smyth-Lentz. It was the contingency of Back to the Future cast members that caught my eye. I had all four of the BTTF stars sign my copy of Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History, and I also got 8x10s from each of them for the collection.
Overall, this was a nice, fresh show bringing several new names to NJ’s convention scene. NJ Horror Con has another show slated for September, and I hope to attend once again.
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.
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!!!
Last Saturday, June 21, I took a ride down to Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Pt. Pleasant, a frequent stop for the General Hospital cast members. Today’s event featured recent returnee Rick Hearst (Ric Lansing) & longtime veteran John J. York (Mac Scorpio), both of whom I have met many times in the past. For the sake of saving money, I normally do not attend repeat events or dole out cash to actors I have met as many times as Rick & John, but these are two guys who I will always support. John visited NJ just back in September, but for Rick, it had been seven years. The guys ran about 45 minutes late, but once they arrived, the fun began. They did a Q&A that was more like a comedy act and then began the autograph & photo session. Thanks again to Dino from UV’s and to Linda at Coastal Entertainment for another great event as usual.