Big changes are coming to General Hospital (GH). As Disney announces sweeping changes to its television division in an effort to cut costs, GH will be firmly in the conglomerate’s crosshairs.
Despite executive producer Frank Valentini and his team’s rigid budget, all signs point to ABC putting renewed pressure on GH to rein in its expenses.
Considering the soap’s large ensemble — and with Days Of Our Lives’ (DOOL) network exit still fresh on everyone’s minds — GH’s best path forward is by culling its cast. And speculation is already rampant over which actors will be leaving shortly.
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Jacklyn Zeman, who has portrayed Bobbie Spencer for over 40 years, recently signaled a change behind the scenes when she thanked fans for supporting her over the years.
“We did have a great run,” Zeman tweeted, tagging co-stars Genie Francis (Laura), Kin Shriner (Scott) and Leslie Charleson (Monica). “Thank you to all our General Hospital viewers for your love and support all these years.”
While her tweet could be interpreted as a simple show of gratitude, it arrived on the same day that co-star Kin Shriner posted a not-so-subtle complaint about his treatment at GH.
“How I was treated by General Hospital after 45 years,” Shriner tweeted, “big issues but stay tuned!!!”
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Yikes! Meanwhile, Leslie Charleson’s mention calls to mind a National Enquirer story from a few months ago, which stated that the iconic actress is ready to retire. “Word is, she’s planning to announce her retirement to coincide with the milestone,” a source for the publication said.
Could the ABC soap be preparing a major exit storyline for several legacy characters? Or is it merely a coincidence that rumors are swirling around Zeman, Shriner and Charleson just as all three mark their 45th anniversaries?
Online rumors suggest that GH could be eyeing a murder mystery. It wouldn’t be the first time an onscreen tragedy was employed to clean up their budgetary concerns. Who could forget the Floating Rib explosion?!
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Contracts are commonly renewed (or cut) in the fall, which might explain the timing of this flurry of cryptic social media activity. Curiously, Zeman and Shriner’s tweets were posted on the same day that co-star Kelly Thiebaud announced her exit.
These coincidences have furthered the perception amongst fans that a cast cull is underway. Of course, GH viewers are often guilty of jumping the gun, as the recent hoopla around Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth) proved.
In June, audiences were up in arms over Herbst’s alleged neglect, arguing that her screen time was inconsistent and her storyline was a bore. Given her tempestuous history with the soap, speculation began to swirl.
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“Just thought I’d shut down some rumors that have been circulating,” Herbst tweeted amid the outrage. “I haven’t been fired. I’m not on vacation. My kids don’t keep me from working. Nor do I have cramps (the best one yet).”
Her tweet clarified a lot of gossip but managed to preserve the mystery: if this fan-favorite isn’t fired, sick or busy, why is Herbst’s presence so uneven? GH viewers have learned that where there’s smoke, there’s fire — and Herbst could be dropped if ABC is forced to tighten its purse strings.
Inflaming all of this fan paranoia is surely the fact that DOOL is leaving NBC after 57 seasons. The landmark move has left a lot of unanswered questions, while one of the soap’s directors recently begged viewers to get Peacock subscriptions.
Want more GH news? Check out General Hospital News Round-Up For The Week (July 25, 2022)
As the future of daytime drama on network television gets fresh scrutiny, some GH fans suspect that Disney’s latest corporate shuffle will start with the lowest hanging fruit.
According to TheWrap, Disney’s restructuring will “result in some layoffs, though it is unclear how many.” Adding to that uncertainty, Dan Loeb – a billionaire investor in Disney – wrote an open letter suggesting “a cost cutting program that addresses both margins and the disposal of excess underperforming assets”. Ratings wise, GH consistently ranks in third place among soap operas, but does that render it an ‘underperforming asset’?
As GH looks toward its 60th anniversary, viewers are worried the milestone will occur with a significantly scaled-back cast. Either that, or it could coincide with a move from ABC to Hulu or Disney+. Which changes do you think will take place over the coming months?
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