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.
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.