Deep Soap: ‘General Hospital’ Boss Frank Valentini on The Nurses Ball and ‘One Life to Live’s’ Return

by | January 11, 2013 at 5:28 PM | Deep Soap, General Hospital, Interviews

"General Hospital" executive producer Frank Valentini (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

General Hospital” is red hot again thanks in large part to Frank Valentini, who became the show’s executive producer in 2012. He has brought back beloved actors, including Genie Francis, and is bringing back the show’s traditional Nurses Ball. His former soap, “One Life to Live” has just been resurrected as an online series.  As a sign of ABC’s renewed confidence in the show, Valentini and several GH cast members were invited to participate in ABC’s Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour. At the TCA party, he spoke about Francis’s return, whether the OLTL web series will impact GH’s casting, and teased an upcoming storyline for the currently backburnered Liz Weber.

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This has been the best week to be a soap fan in a long time. “All My Children” and ” One Life to Live” came back from the dead. “Days of Our Lives” was renewed and Genie Francis came back. What made all of the decision makers suddenly realize the value of soaps?
It is a great time and I think a lot of people are paying attention to the good work that the existing soaps have done and said, “You know what? There’s fans out there. Let’s honor them.” I don’t think it’s just happening by accident and hopefully we’re riding a nice wave of ratings and good publicity and we’re able to continue the upward surge so we can try new things and branch out a little more.

Is it bittersweet that ‘One Life to Live’ is continuing without your involvement?
I’m not sure bittersweet’s the right word. I’m really excited for all my friends in New York and excited for the show and for new life to be breathed back in to those two shows. I talked to [series creator] Agnes [Nixon] last week. She was really excited that her babies have been brought back to life.

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Can you talk about the situation with the former “One Life to Live” characters who are on “General Hospital”? Can Prospect Park demand the return of Todd and John and force you to write them off?
I can’t really talk about that because there’s a lot of legalese involved in that. But everything’s going to work out. I know it’s all going to be great.

What can we expect from Genie Francis’s return?
You can expect a lot of surprises and a lot of fun. I met with Genie. She looks gorgeous. She’s excited to be back. We wanted to show that we were ready to embrace her back into the family. We’ve got a great story. She’s going to be back with a nice big secret. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Jon Lindstrom is also coming back as Kevin.
Yes. Jon Lindstrom is taping today. I’m really excited to work with him. I’ve always thought he was a great actor. We have some really fun stuff with him and Lucy (Lynn Herring) that the audience is going to be really excited about.

How do you feel about Steve Burton joining the cast of “The Young & the Restless”?
I wish him all the best.

Can you give us a preview of February sweeps?
For the February sweeps we’ll be teeing up to the nurses ball which will start at the end of March into the anniversary which is April 1.  Slightly in contrast to what’s happened in the past, where it was sort of a one-off event, the Nurses Ball will be weaved into story. Big things will happen at the nurse’s ball. And it will go for more than one day.

So February will everyone be planning the ball?
They’ll be planning which is: how are they going to pull it off? The money just got pulled. Sabrina (Teresa Castillo) and Patrick (Jason Thompson) are working together and what’s going to happen with that? A lot of good questions will be answered.

Speaking of Sabrina, she’s a character that has been somewhat polarizing, as you’re probably aware.
No. I thought everybody liked her.

Some people feel that she has a storyline that should rightfully be Liz’s, in that Robin was Liz’s best friend but Sabrina’s the one saving the nurse’s ball and getting involved with Patrick.
But that’s just wrong because Liz and Patrick are like brother and sister. It would be creepy if they were together. Liz has a new love interest on the horizon.

Who?
You’ve got to wait and see. It’s someone who’s on the canvas right now.

Are his initials A.J.?
No.

People love Liz and there is concern about her storyline.
I love Liz. I love Becky [Herbst]. She’s fantastic. But something needs to be built. I think that character’s been bounced around. She’s got three different children from three different men. If she’s going to say, “I love you” to somebody, it’s got to be real and it’s got to mean something. She’s not going to jump right into it. That’s not who she is. I think everyone’s forgotten a little bit what makes Liz the character you most identify with and most want to be. Becky’s got the acting chops to pull it off if you go through every step of the relationship.