I invited my friend “Katydid” to tell us about her weekend with the General Hospital cast and the band Enation, since I wasn’t able to go myself. I felt like I was there, actually, because Katydid called me and sent photos every day. She even held up her phone during Enation’s concert so I could hear a song. Here’s her report:
Last week I attended my second General Hospital Fan Club Weekend Event, held this year at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, California. Each year, the actors and fans of this long-running ABC soap come together for four days to celebrate the show. Several actors put on their own events throughout the weekend, allowing fans a more intimate way to get to know their favorites. There is a kick-off cocktail party on Thursday night that begins the weekend and a main cast event on Saturday where fans can see all their favorite GH stars in one room.
I started my weekend with actor Jonathan Jackson (Lucky Spencer) at his event. When Jackson entered the small conference room, he quickly took his seat on the raised platform, grabbed the microphone, and told fans to start firing away with their questions. This event is a great way for fans to discuss not only what’s happening with Lucky on GH, but to also ask questions about Jackson’s other acting jobs, and even to gain some insight into his personal life. It was a family event, because his wife Lisa (who played Hannah on GH from 1999-2001), and his three kids, Caleb, Adora, and baby Titus (who just joined the cast as Lucky’s son) were all in attendance. Most of the questions and discussion centered around General Hospital. Jackson explained how much he loves being back with the show after a ten year absence. He enjoys working with co-stars Anthony Geary, Tyler Christopher, Becky Herbst, Erin Chambers, and Steve Burton. He was also very hopeful that new head writer Garin Wolf can make some powerful changes, including honoring history and improving the writing for women. I found it amusing when Jackson admitted he is still clueless about a lot of GH history, including how his character Lucky is related to cousin Carly, and that Maxie is the daughter of GH super-couple Frisco and Felicia Jones. Other topics included how amazing it was to win his fourth Daytime Emmy this summer. Jackson got word of the nomination on his birthday, and he won the Emmy on Father’s Day. His son Caleb was asked how it felt to go onstage with his dad to accept the award, and his only response was, “It was really good.” Jackson also said he really enjoyed working on past projects such as his first movie Camp Nowhere (1994) and the more recent Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was cancelled right before he became a series regular. The event closed out with Caleb and Adora leading the crowd in a game of High/Low to give away some prizes. Then each fan was given the opportunity get an autograph and a photo with Jackson.
Saturday was the Main Cast Event, which was an all-day event that included lunch. Fans started to arrive around 9 in the morning, where they were first assigned their table and then were free to roam the room. Tables were set up to sell memorabilia and raffle tickets for all kinds of prizes ranging from cast photos to a studio tour of the General Hospital set. There were 39 tables and approximately 400 fans in attendance.
We were served lunch around 11am, and once lunch was over, the cast made their first appearance. Each cast member was introduced by long-time GH veteran John Ingle (Edward) as they took their seat on stage. Actors in attendance included: Adrienne Barbeau (Suzanne), Carolyn Hennessy (Diane), Blake Gibbons (Coleman), Erin Chambers (Siobhan), Haley Pullos (Molly), Aaron Sanders (Morgan), Sean Blakemore (Shawn), Andrea Bogart (Abby), Brianna Brown (Lisa), Bruce Weitz (Anthony), Ronnie Marmo (Ronnie), Derk Cheetwood (Max), Kirsten Storms (Maxie), Kelly Monaco (Sam), Becky Herbst (Elizabeth), Jonathan Jackson (Lucky), Lisa LoCicero (Olivia), Julie Berman (Lulu), Dominic Zamprogna (Dante), Jason Thompson (Patrick), Kimberly McCoullough (Robin), Maurice Benard (Sonny), Steve Burton (Jason), Scott Reeves (Steve), Brandon Barash (Johnny), Bradford Anderson (Spinelli), Laura Wright (Carly), Lexi Ainsworth (Kristina), and Chad Duell (Michael). Then actor John J. York (Mac) asked each of the other cast members one question. Most of the questions were predictable and ranged from “What other actor would you like to work with more?” to “Who would you say is the biggest prankster on set?” The actors are all very funny and even joked with each other when giving their answers.
Once the Q & A was over it was time for the actors to take their place at their respective autograph tables. The tables were set up around the perimeter of the room, and fans were then able to line up for the opportunity get an autograph and a photo with as many actors as they could, although some fan favorites had longer lines than most. I met twelve of the actors and can honestly say that most of them seemed thrilled to be there, and believe it or not, they are much more attractive in person than on television. The entire cast was very appreciative of the fans that came out to show their support.
A few of the actors left early, including Maurice Benard, Steve Burton, Jonathan Jackson, Laura Wright, and Bradford Anderson, although to be fair it was announced that Wright and Bradford couldn’t stay long, and the rest had other fan club events happening that evening. Kelly Monaco and Kirsten Storms had one of the longest lines, partly because they were frequently distracted by some friends who kept summoning them away from their autograph table. They also had a camera crew filming the event, since they are part of E!’s upcoming reality show Dirty Soap. The actors who stayed the longest and seemed to be the most excited to be there, at least in my opinion, were Brandon Barash, Erin Chambers, Becky Herbst, Julie Berman, Dominic Zamprogna, John J. York, and Brianna Brown.
I closed out the weekend with Jonathan Jackson’s band Enation at a small acoustic concert. They performed several songs from their popular 2008 album World In Flight, and they introduced some new songs off their upcoming album My Ancient Rebellion (due out in October). Jackson even performed an unrecorded song called “To Say Goodbye,” which heartbreakingly expresses the feelings of his GH character Lucky’s struggle with his son’s death. The guys also received some vocal assistance when Lisa Jackson came up on stage to sing with her husband for “Let the Beauty Out.” Enation sounded absolutely amazing, especially considering the concert took place in a small conference room. Jackson’s voice live was even more powerful and more full of emotion than it is in their recordings. You could tell the entire band was happy to be there, and their passion for music shines through in every song. Fans were treated to a brief appearance by Julie Berman and Dominic Zamprogna when they stopped by to catch the end of the show and give their co-star a quick hug. Then the band stayed for a while after the performance to pose for photos and sign autographs. I had a chance to quickly talk with the guys before taking a photo with them. Drummer Richard Lee Jackson was thrilled to have a chance to interact with fans, making sure to ask everyone their name and shake their hand. He even asked if I had seen Enation perform before, and I was happy to tell him that I attended their concert at last year’s fan club weekend.
Overall the GH Fan Club Weekend is a very fun event, and it’s a great opportunity for fans. The actors seem to appreciate the support, and with the future of soaps like General Hospital on such shaky ground, they need all the support we can give them!
Thanks, Katydid! This was your second FCW. How did it compare to last year?
This year was different because it was the first year I attended the main cast event. It was quite a unique experience being surrounded by so many of the actors at once, and to get to spend the entire day at the event as opposed to just a few hours like the individual events. It was also a great opportunity to meet a variety of fans, all of whom watch the show for so many different reasons.
Did anyone surprise you meeting them in person?
No one in particular surprised me, but it was interesting to see how different the actors are from their characters. Like with Brianna Brown—her character Lisa was a psychopath, but she couldn’t have been more sweet in real life. Also, John J. York’s character Mac is usually a pretty serious guy, but York himself is much more upbeat and very, very funny.
Does the camera really add ten pounds?
Oh yes, the camera definitely adds ten pounds. Not that any of the actors look bad on television, but I was amazed at how much tinier all the actresses were in person, and it was shocking to find out I am taller than most of them!
That’s a long list of actors who came. Was anyone missing? Anyone you particularly wanted to meet?
There were a few GH faces that I didn’t get to see during my weekend. Vanessa Marcil-Giovinazzo (Brenda) and Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) each held their own event during the weekend but were absent from the main cast event on Saturday. Constance Towers (Helena) had a name tag up at the autograph tables before the event, but she must have been a no-show. It would have been nice to meet actors Jason Cook (Matt) and Nathan Parsons (Ethan), but both were missing from the entire weekend.
Thank you for sharing your weekend with me!
[All photographs ©2011 Katydid. Please don't post elsewhere without permission.]