Rumors of Bob Guza’s Departure Are Greatly Exaggerated
Oh, “General Hospital,” I can always count on you to generate more crazy rumors than any other soap, even on the weekend when nobody who works on the show is available to comment. Friday, Soap Opera Digest’s website claimed that longtime headwriter Bob Guza was on his way out. This would truly have been shocking. As much criticism as I throw his way on a regular basis, I respect him for holding onto the incredibly demanding job for far longer than most people have. Not only is the burn out rate incredibly high, the networks are usually quick to fire headwriters when the ratings fall or there are any sort of creative disagreements. The only person to be at the job for longer is Brad Bell, whose family owns “The Bold & the Beautiful” and does not have to worry about being replaced.
Given that SOD is usually not in the business of publishing unsubstantiated rumors, the news hit GH fans with the impact of the original clink-boom. A columnist for Right Celebrity mourned. Serial Drama and seemingly every singe fan who posts on message boards was elated. Later that day, ABC issued an official statement that the rumors were false and that Guza is not going anywhere. Soap Opera Network claims that the actual story is that Guza is currently negotiating his contract renewal. If the site is right, given that most soap contract renewals these days involve the network claiming that since daytime is dying and there are no other jobs that the writer should take a massive pay cut, while the writer’s agent claims that the writer is single-handedly responsible for keeping the show on the air and deserves a massive raise, at some point somebody is going to say something nasty resulting in a rumor like this one. Will he stay or will he go? Stay tuned.
Then, Saturday Soap Opera Digest reported via Twitter that Tyler Christopher, who plays Nikolas, was let go on Friday. Soaps In Depth confirmed it, also via Twitter on Sunday. Though he has been with the show on and off since the 1990s, I cannot get upset about this one. GH obviously lost interest in telling storylines about the Cassadines around the time that it abruptly dropped the character of Valentin even though an actor had already been cast in the role. Unfortunately, Christopher seemed to lose interest in his character, too. He used to make Nikolas an intriguing study of repression, who simultaneously despised and longed to be a part of the Spencer family. For the past year, he has seemed like he was phoning it in. Yes, he was on the backburner after his affair with Elizabeth was revealed. Yes, his current storyline where he hires Brooklyn to be his girlfriend didn’t make much sense, but so what? Becky Herbst, who was previously on the chopping block before being rescued by a fan campaign, was saddled with the same storylines and made the most every scene that she had. Christopher had already been cast in a recurring role as a police detective on the upcoming ABC Family series “The Lying Game,” which is being executive produced by former GH headwriter Chuck Pratt. He seems ready to move on from Nikolas, and I hope he makes the most of his new role. I look forward to the next insane GH rumor.
While researching “Murder One” for an article that has nothing to do with soaps, I discovered that Daniel Benzali’s character on the short-lived 1990s series was named Theodore Hoffman – the same name as his lawyer/criminal mastermind character on “General Hospital,” though he apparently had the nickname Ted on “Murder One.” My first thought was, Why? I have slagged on GH for its tendency to name characters after the actors who portray them, but I get the logic behind naming James Franco’s character Franco. It’s a way of acknowledging that –OMG—the character is being played by a movie star/grad student/lousy Oscar host. Naming Theo after a character on a long-forgotten low rated show is just plain odd. Are we supposed to think that the Balkan is in fact the same character that Steven Bochco created, and that after he retired from practicing law to attempt to save his marriage at the end of the show’s first season, they ended up divorcing and he turned to crime and married Suzanne (Adrienne Barbeau)? Or is Bob Guza the sole “Murder One” fanboy (in which case, thanks for writing such a detailed synopsis of the plot on Wikipedia, Bob I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised you neglected to include any information about the character Nancy Lee Grahn played), who was determined to give a shout out to the show that he loves? It reminds me of all those schlocky parody movies like “Vampires Suck” that throw in random pop culture references without bother to write actual jokes about them. The odds of anyone even noticing it are slim since barely anybody remembers any of the characters on “Murder One.” GH has a penchant for bizarre pop culture references. I’m not sure why Kristina’s abusive boyfriend was named Kiefer Bauer (Christian Alexander) – an obvious play on “24’s” Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland. That’s not exactly flattering to Sutherland. I suppose James Franco might argue that it’s post-modern and the reference itself is the meaning. But I didn’t go to grad school, and I just find it lazy. Come on, take thirty seconds to come up with an original character name.