Carolyn with Frank Valentini at the 2011 Daytime Emmy Awards in Las Vegas.

Carolyn with Frank Valentini at the 2011 Daytime Emmy Awards in Las Vegas.

General Hospital celebrated 50 years on ABC with a special episode dedicated to Steve Hardy’s 50th anniversary as hospital chief of staff on April 2, and the return of the popular Nurses’ Ball which concludes April 9. Here’s Executive Producer Frank Valentini on his strategy for songs, storytelling – and secrets.

Carolyn: Why did you want to keep some big names returning for the Nurses’ Ball a secret?

Frank: We didn’t keep all of them secret. Some we advertised. We kept certain ones secret because we wanted there to be a few surprises. Rick Webber was a big surprise. Emily was a surprise. We wanted that to be special for the audience.

Carolyn: Are we done with the surprises?

Frank: No. There are a few more this week, as well as after the Nurses’ Ball. This is what we’ve been doing for the last year. Ron [Carlivati, head writer] and I believe that the show should be fun and exciting and surprising. We want it to be like watching a live event – everyone finds out together what’s going to happen.

Carolyn: I heard you went to great lengths to keep some of the returns a secret.

Frank: That’s true. We felt it was important for the audience to be surprised. Everyone was in on the secret for the greater good of the show.

Carolyn: Were there any big names you wanted to come back that you couldn’t get?

Frank: Yes. There were a couple of people we really wanted, but because of scheduling conflicts we couldn’t get them. Which doesn’t mean they can’t come back in the future…

Carolyn: Are their initials Kimberly McCullough [Robin], Jonathan Jackson [Lucky], Emma Samms [Holly] and Tristan Rogers [Robert]?

Frank: No comment!

Carolyn: Some actors have been very vocal about enjoying their returns and wanting to stay on GH. Would you and Ron consider that?

Frank: Yes, absolutely. It’s important for viewers to know that we didn’t bring people back as ‘stunts.’ We brought them back for a reason. For example, GH’s 50th anniversary was the right time for Audrey to be there because it honored Steve Hardy and Rachel Ames’ character was married to him. It made perfect sense to bring her back to celebrate GH on that day, and it honored her history on the show as well.

Carolyn: Was it hard to coax Rachel Ames out of retirement?

Frank: Not really. Rachel was lovely, and very excited to come back for one day. The crew gave her a standing ovation.

Carolyn: What about the other surprise returns?

Frank: We brought [the ghosts of] Alan and Emily back to bring Monica and Tracy together. There were important story reasons to bring everyone back that we did. Their returns moved story forward.

Carolyn: Were you pleased with the results of the anniversary show?

Frank: Thrilled. The audience loved it and the ratings were really good.

Carolyn: And the Nurses’ Ball?

Frank: We were overwhelmed by the response to the Nurses’ Ball. It was a huge, huge success. The press, the writers – everyone was so excited with what we accomplished. That was all due to the excellent team of actors and crew we have on GH.

Carolyn: Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

Frank: No, I don’t think so. But there are definitely things we’ll take into account for next year.

Carolyn: Next year? Will you celebrate GH’s anniversary every year?

Frank: Maybe! Maybe we’ll do a little nod or something special on the anniversary day. Or maybe we’ll do the Nurses’ Ball again. Who knows?

Carolyn: I heard that the music from the Nurses’ Ball is on iTunes?

Frank: Yes. We put the opening song and the closing song on iTunes. The closing song airs Tuesday. It’s great.

Carolyn: How will you ever top the Ball for May Sweeps?

Frank: We have so many great things happening, I think we will top it. We build on everything that happens in April and have some really exciting new things coming in May. Just because the anniversary is over doesn’t mean our stories won’t all include the rich history of GH.

Carolyn: Anything you want to tell me about?

Frank: No [laughs].

Carolyn: What was the biggest surprise for YOU coming out of the Nurses’ Ball?

Frank: Lynn Herring [Lucy].

Carolyn: Why, because she’s so professional?

Frank: Beyond! I had never worked with her before. She’s extraordinary. She’s the mascot, the head cheerleader, and the all-around good sport for the entire Nurses’ Ball. She’s like Beyonce but with more dresses.

Carolyn: Then that would make you Jay-Z!


22 Responses to TAINTED DREAMS: GH Honcho Frank Valentini Dishes Some GENERAL Secrets

  • Wendelyn Sullivan says:

    The NB would have been more enjoyable, if it wasn’t used as a DumponFrisco act for Mac, and also Felecia choosing Mac instead of Frisco, and Frisco being mocked and ridiculed by Olivia’s psychic act, a cheap shot aimed at Frisco. I also thought it should be more about honoring Robin, not dishonoring her, like Mac did, By his offensive, childish ventriloquest act. I thought Patrick could have waited to tell Sabrina his feelings for her, instead of at the NB, Just because she had a makeover. Then flaunt it in front of everyone on stage when he was there to honor his Dead Wife, or so he thinks. I liked Lucy, although, not crazy about Richard Simmons nutso act. I loved JW/Frisco singing, “All I Need, but would have preferred, “Lady Of My Heart”. I loved Rick Springfield. Sam and Anton’s dancing, awesome. AS was Molly and Tj’sact. The Guys were Great. EMMA was adorable. Wanted to see Aj and Liz’s act, that’s about it.

  • Wendelyn Sullivan says:

    I loved that so many vets returned,especially JW/Frisco. I was so thrilled that he returned and was looking forward to him rebuilding his relatioship with Maxie, which he started to do, and also reuniting with his ex-wife, Felecia. I know Felecia chose Mac, for whatever reason, and rejected Frisco, but did tptb have to do it to humiliate Frisco in that way, to totally trash the legacy of Frisco an Felecia, and then to walk out on Maxie and ruin their relationship. My only hope that Frisco comes back before Maxie has her baby, so she is there for His Daughter. I am tired of Him being labeled as a DEADBEATDAD. They dont say that about the other Fathers who didnt raise their Kids. They dont label Mac as a PARENT KILLER. Do they label Luke as a RAPIST, and A CHILD KILLER. It’s just wrong to do that. It made me dislike Mac, and I did like him before. Now, not so much. Felecia, not crazy about her either. She was more concerned about Colton’s feelings when she dumped him to be with Frisco, than she showed for Frisco, when she rejected him. It showed she could care less about Frisco. She just wanted him GONE. How sad for the Supercouple to end this way. It’s been over a month since Frisco left and I still feel the same way as I did then. Oh well, I am looking toward the future when JW/FRISCO RETURNS, and see what will happen then.

  • Sal Piscioneri says:

    loved it all and the Stavros return too. Cant wait to watch daily…I know the excitement is hard to keep up with every episode but can see they are trying. All the cast makes GH the best non boring soap to watch.

  • GERI Parrish says:

    Thanks From a deaf wman for a great job on ALL and bringng back Bobbie! Keep her on PLEASE!!!

  • Carol says:

    I loved the surprises! As much as I enjoy reading SOD, I have considered giving it up so I wouldn’t know so many things in advance. But then I wouldn’t get Carolyn’s article, so I keep up the subscription.

    This was my first Nurses Ball and it was so much fun. I hope they continue the tradition.

  • Jackie J says:

    Loved the Nurses’ Ball. A lot of surprising talent is displayed every time they have one. Don’t wait so long next time!

  • marcia says:

    I love surprises! Always have, always will. Remember when James Stenbeck came back to ATWT that time ? – Hellooo, Barrrbarrrra! I nearly jumped out of my skin. Thought GH did a masterful job with the whole anniversary and enjoyed the ball too, even though I am not a regular GH viewer. Frankly the crime and violence really turn me off. I’m not interested in watching that; soaps are supposed to be an escape, about family and romance, and GH has had that in spades here lately! So thrilled to read about returning GH AND AMC AND OLTL stars in Digest!

  • mary says:

    I no longer read spoilers, I like not knowing now. It makes watching more fun. As long as the days of General Mobster is over, I am happy. Keep Lucy, b ring back, Robert, Diane is fun. I like to watch a fun, romantic, General Hospital.

  • Robynne says:

    I REALLY hope they can find a way to do the Nurse’s Ball every year.

  • DEBBIE says:

    I am hoping that they will bring Rick Webber back for May Sweeps . They are so much unfinished buisness between them. Rick hinted that things were not what they seemed.

  • Tawna says:

    Steve Hardy was NOT Chief of Staff 50 years ago. Back then he was the Chief of Internal Medicine.

  • Carol says:

    I have been watching GH since Luke and Laura’s wedding. I can’t stop watching the show. I was so bummed out when my c -section got scheduled during a pivotal plot line. Loved loved the Nurses Ball. Lucy,Anna and Duke, Rick, Spinelli, Frisco, Emma and Sabrina, the men of GH striptease! Wow! So thrilled to see the energy with all the cast! Kudos to Frank and the writers for doing a superb job! So great seeing all the favorites back! Thanks for keeping it great!

  • Kathy says:

    NB has been so entertaining! Great job by all! Frank and Ron have made GH must see TV for me once again. Big props to bringing back GF, JZ and KS. Need to sign them now to Multi-Year contracts.

  • Kathy says:

    Frank and Ron have made GH must see TV for me. Bring on the Nurses Ball again every year. Loved it! And BIG props for bringing back GF, JZ and KS. Please sign them to multi-year contracts.

  • Pingback: GH EP Frank Valentini on Nurses’ Ball Secrets, May Sweeps and Lynn Herring! | Michael Fairman On-Air On-Soaps | Daytime Soap Interviews, News, Updates and Previews, Video and Audio Interviews

  • sean says:

    I met Lynn Herring at a fan event and she was the nicest, most polite actress I met that day

  • Pat says:

    I disagree with Franks comments on surprises. The only reason I tuned back into GH was because I read that Anna, Frisco and Felicia were coming back. (I was hoping for Robert too.) GH is great and I will probably keep watching. But viewers cant be surprised if theyre not watching in the first place.

  • lucy says:

    yep : the cast’s surprises is a great move, he is right; in order to make people watch, tv shows have to be fun, exiting and surprising..three key words. We the audience want to be surprised otherwise we skip the episodes and that even more on a tv show who aired every freaking days like a daytime soap.

  • Laurie says:

    Thanks for the great interview Carolyn! Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati have made General Hospital a “do not miss” show. All the faces that have visited in recent weeks were wonderful. I loved seeing the Nurses’ Ball again. It would be fantastic if all the Nurses’ Ball from previous years were on DVD. The proceeds could go to the charity.

  • Sheila Rae says:

    ABSOLUTELY LOVING the Quiz romance!

  • Traci says:

    I have always wondered – what is the point of watching if you already know what is going to happen? To me, surprises make you want more!

  • melissa says:

    please keep the nurses ball every yr,its very important and i believe always was a success i hope u keep lucy coe /lynn herring shes great and adds some comedy to the show.i loved that u brough emily and alan and omg rick webber during the marathon this weekend i watched all 50 hrs so tell me im not addicted been watching since i was a young girl and i do not plan on stopping,i love gh my favorite was robin and stone i only wish there was more mention of him at the nurses ball and possibly bring in some people that really work with aids foundations,etc

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