Tag Archives: General Hospital

General Hospital Fan Club Weekend 2011

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.  

Jonathan Jackson answering questions at his fan event

Jonathan Jackson answering questions at his fan event

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. 

General Hospital cast at Fan Club Weekend

General Hospital cast at Fan Club Weekend

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.

Dominic Zamprogna, Julie Berman and Jonathan Jackson

Dominic Zamprogna, Julie Berman and Jonathan Jackson

 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.

Jonathan Jackson performing

Jonathan Jackson

 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.

Enation

Enation: (L to R) Michael Galeotti, Richard Jackson, Jonathan Jackson, Luke Galeotti, and Daniel Sweatt

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.]

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Congratulations, Jonathan Jackson

Tonight, Jonathan Jackson won his fourth Emmy Award for the role of Lucky Spencer on General Hospital.  It’s the first time he’s won as a supporting actor.  The first three Emmys (1995, 1998, 1999) were as a younger leading actor.  Congratulations, Jonathan!  And, Happy Father’s Day.

Jonathan Jackson going up to accept Emmy

Jackson going up to accept the Emmy, with cast mates expressing their delight

Jonathan Jackson with his daughter, older son, and the 2011 Supporting Actor Emmy

Jonathan Jackson with his daughter, older son, and the 2011 Supporting Actor Emmy

Watch the video of Penn & Teller revealing his name, followed by his acceptance speech.  This YouTube video has a hiccup, so the five nominees are shown twice, and the sound is a bit out of sync. 

 

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Happy Birthday, Jonathan Jackson

Today is Jonathan Jackson’s birthday.   I woke up to the news that he’s been nominated for another Daytime Emmy for his role as Lucky Spencer on General Hospital.  It’s impossible to top that for a birthday treat, so I won’t even try.  Congratulations and Happy Birthday!

Jonathan Jackson 2010

 Note:  This is the scene from General Hospital that convinced critics and fans that he’d get an Emmy nomination.

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One Year Old

Reflections on my first year of blogging

Today is the one year anniversary of The Ugly Bug Ball.  I wasn’t sure I could keep it going, but here we are on post number 95.  100 would have been a nicer number, but I’m not complaining.  Honestly, my only goal a year ago was to find a way to stop driving my boss crazy.  She was tired of all my entertainment chitchat, so I took it online. 

A year ago, I was obsessing over Matthew Goode and Michael Sheen, and I was mourning the cancellation of EastEnders on my local PBS station.  I think I can be forgiven for neglecting Matthew Goode, since he hasn’t released any new movies.  Michael Sheen has been very busy, but I have to confess, I didn’t finish watching A Special Relationship.  All the politics went right over my head.  I still miss Albert Square.

A year ago, I’d never heard of Jonathan Jackson or his band Enation.  I didn’t know I’d be spending every weekday afternoon watching General Hospital to see Jackson as Lucky Spencer.   I was so excited when Enation tweeted links to my blog and even commented on one of my posts.  Now my current obsession is the Les Misérables 25th anniversary concert and some of the West End actors who performed in it.   Who knows what will entertain me next.  I try to “spread the love” by having lots of favorites, so there is always something new just around the corner.

I wish I didn’t feel compelled to check my blog stats so often.  I’m fascinated by how many visitors I get, and what brings them here.  It took me a long time to figure out that a portion of my “visitors” weren’t real, but spam referrers and creepy link posters.  Once I got over that disappointment, I soldiered on.  A dramatic change came a few months after I started, when the UK dating site with the same name was launched.   Suddenly, I had a dramatic increase in visits, but it wasn’t my Bug Ball they wanted.  Google soon sorted them out, although I still get a few strays.  My other wish?  That more people would leave comments.   Even after a year, it’s a thrill to know that people from all over the world are looking at my pages.

 I never really planned to be “Ugly Bug,”  but that’s become my username in various forums and sites that I visit, and when I leave comments on other blogs.  My gravatar photo is a damselfly, and I quite like that for a name, but I never got around to trying it.  It amuses me how some folks are uncomfortable with the word ugly.  I’m usually addressed as UB or Bug, which is fine, too.  I’m fond 0f that old saying, call me anything except late for dinner!

My most popular post this first year is  A Silent Scream, which talks about silent film.  Lots of folks out there are googling “Louise Brooks.”  A surprisingly popular one is All Thumbs, simply because of the photo of Hrithik Roshan’s double thumb.   Another entry that gets a lot of visits is In Remembrance: Armistice Day due to the WWI art.   My Les Mis posts have brought in a lot of new people, too.  I’m not sure how many more screencaps I will add, but at least my photoshop skills keep improving. 

New technology has brought big changes to my blog and what entertains me.  Last summer I got my first mp3 player.  Then my brother gave me my first digital camera, so I was able to start adding fresh photos.  I got a new Epson scanner, so old photos and slides were resurrected and added to these pages.  I learned how to make screencaps using Paint and Photoshop, and I learned that YouTube videos could be converted into mp3s.   Speaking of YouTube, I had no idea until last summer what treasures could be found there.  

Another big blogging milestone was when I started writing about personal subjects.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there.   Writing about my favorite uncle, Dennis Severs, was a wonderful way to share a few memories, and I found it deeply satisfying.   I’ve been neglecting my Stage Door Encounter series, but it’s been a fun way to combine personal experiences with my interest in actors.  

So here’s to one year and counting, and hopefully the best is yet to come!

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A Sad Week For Soap Fans

This week, the news broke that Rebecca Herbst has been fired from General Hospital.  For thirteen years, she has played the character Elizabeth Webber, who arrived in Port Charles as a rebellious teen, and is now a nurse and a single mother of three small boys.  Not only is she one of the most popular actresses on daytime television, but to viewers who have watched her all these years, she is an old friend.  Passionate fans engage in fierce battles on soap forums over which character is her best romantic partner, and they are willing to travel far to attend her fan events. 

 I’ve only been watching GH for seven months, but I can see from the online reaction that this is a truly shocking event.  Viewers, critics, and cast members are stunned, and nobody can make sense of this decision.  The official word from ABC: “Storyline dictates the exit of Elizabeth Webber this spring. The next few months promise to be a ‘not to miss’ story for the character. We at ABC and GENERAL HOSPITAL wish Rebecca Herbst nothing but the best in all of her future endeavors.”  This is news to everybody, because Elizabeth Webber hasn’t had much of a story to miss lately.  Viewers have been waiting impatiently since March for her to find out that the father of her baby is really Lucky Spencer, since Helena Cassadine switched the results of the paternity tests.  Things are either going to start happening really fast, or viewers are going to be left frustrated and unhappy.  Oh, yeah, that’s going to happen anyway, isn’t it?

Most GH viewers agree, even though Rebecca Herbst is a lovely, talented actress, her character has been poorly written this last year.  Rather than try to fix the writing, they are just writing her out.  It can’t be easy to go back on set, filming your last scenes over the course of several weeks, after you’ve been fired.  I’m sure Rebecca Herbst will remain professional and give her very best to these scenes, but they will be heartbreaking to watch, no matter how her character departs.  Soaps are famous for bringing back popular actors, even after their characters have died, but who knows if General Hospital will be on the air long enough for Elizabeth Webber to return to Port Charles. 

Many viewers are saying they will quit watching General Hospital now.   I have to say, it’s been a real slog ever since the whole evil Balkan storyline began, and I can’t wait for that to be over.  Will I stop watching?  Well, I will definitely stop watching when Jonathan Jackson (Lucky Spencer) leaves the show.  Until then, I will probably keep at it, yelling at the TV when the storyline gets unbearably stupid, knowing that nobody at ABC is really listening.

Update: It didn’t take long for producers to reverse their decision.  Now it’s just a question of whether Rebecca Herbst will get a storyline and writing that’s worth watching.

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My Year End Wrap-Up 2010

As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look back and reflect on the best and worst of 2010.  I’m not going to be the least bit objective here.  This is my blog, so I get to ignore popular trends and public opinion.  You won’t find Lady Gaga or Dancing With The Stars or Harry Potter The First Part of the Last Book (Finally).  This is what entertained ME this year.

Best Books: This year, the recently published books that I most enjoyed were The Gates by John Connolly, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, Operation Mincemeat by Ben McIntyre, and The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart.  The biggest disappoint was One Day by David Nicholls.

Best Television: All year long, the television show that has been the most consistently funny and worth watching is The Big Bang Theory.  Jim Parsons gets a lot of the credit, but I’m also a big fan of Kunal Nayyar as Raj.   Another excellent series is Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.  My favorite new show from the fall is Hawaii Five-O.  The worst show this year  was the incredibly dull American Idol season.  I can’t even remember the finalists anymore, probably because I was watching NCIS instead.   (People who know me will wonder about General Hospital.  Just keep reading.)

Best Twitter:  Matthew Gray Gubler from Criminal Minds tweets with charm and whimsy, and his photos, while not always in focus, are always worth clicking open.

Best Movie:  This category is very tricky.  I only saw five films this year in a movie theater, and two of them were silent.   Of the talkies, Easy A was the funniest and most endearing.  Emma Stone, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are so appealing, you easily forget the shortcomings of the story.  Fortunately, none of the films I paid good money to see actually sucked.  Considering the clunkers released this year, that’s pretty good luck.   All the good films released this month will have to go into next year’s list, because I haven’t seen them yet!

Best DVDs:  Here is where I make up for all the movies I missed in the theater.   The best films I watched on DVD weren’t even released this year, but they’re worth mentioning.  I loved Mrs. Palfrey at The Claremont, Patrik Age 1.5, In the Loop, The Band’s Visit, and Heartlands.  Note that three of these films are British, one is Swedish, and one is Israeli.  Not one American film made my list this year.  Unfortunately, the worst thing I watched on DVD this year was also British.  It was a short-lived TV series called Bonekickers.  Avoid it.

Best Streaming:  A special thank you to my downstairs neighbors Nathan and Eric, because I share their wireless DSL.  They upgraded the speed a couple of months ago.  Now I can watch programs on my computer without all the stops for buffering.  The best thing I watched streaming was the British comedy series The IT Crowd.  A special mention goes to the hours of entertaining clips I watched on YouTube.

Best Music:  The music that gets the most space on my mp3 player, and the most plays, is by Enation.  I’ve also enjoyed the new albums by Hanson (Shout it Out) and Jason Castro.

Best Music Video:   I love dogs, so my favorite is White Knuckles by OK Go.

Best Entertainment News:  This is a weird category, but I have been fascinated by all the news about the making of The Hobbit.  The director changes, the New Zealand union controversy, the casting news—it could all prove to be more entertaining than the movie itself.  If it ever gets made.  The worst news was when Entertainment Weekly magazine refused to honor my great subscription rate from past years, so I didn’t renew.

Entertainer of the Year:  This one is a no-brainer.  Back in July, I started watching General Hospital to check out James Franco’s guest appearance.  I became interested in Jonathan Jackson, who plays Lucky Spencer.  I thought my interest would last about a week.   Six months later, I’m still watching him on GH, listening to his band Enation, and checking his facebook page every day.  I’ve watched his movies, his YouTube videos, and his live streaming events on Ustream.   He even answered a question from me on his Twitter Q & A last month.  Jonathan Jackson gets this “award” not just because he has entertained me, but because he has done it in so many different ways.  Thumbs up!

Enation in the recording studio

Jonathan Jackson and Enation (click to see larger)

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The Enation Tutorial

A beginner’s guide and 12 step program for becoming a fan of the indie band Enation.

1.  Watch General Hospital and become intrigued by Lucky Spencer and Jonathan Jackson.  (This first step can be swapped with many others, such as watch One Tree Hill, watch Saved By The Bell: The New Class, eat at Galeotti’s Restaurant, hear about this band from a friend, etc.)

2.  Visit the official Enation website.  Follow the link to CD Baby to check out the music.  Listen to the music samples.  Order three of the CDs because you can’t resist a good sale, but don’t tell anyone because it’s embarrassing to buy three CDs before you’ve heard a full song.

3.  Receive your three CDs in the mail and start playing them constantly.  Find a small problem with one of the CDs and feel delighted, because it means you get to send the band an email.  Get a response to your email and feel stupidly excited.

4.  Go to Ustream and watch the archived live concert, live rehearsal and live interview.  Find the answer to the question, what does the name Enation mean?  Then go to YouTube and watch the videos on EnationMusic’s channel, Daniel Sweatt’s channel (which are the funniest!), Jonathan Jackson’s channel, and then check out the fan videos.

5.  Go to facebook and “like” Enation’s fan page, and while you’re at it, “like” Jonathan Jackson’s page and Richard Lee Jackson’s page.  

6.  Go to twitter and “follow” Enation, Jonathan Jackson, Richard Lee Jackson, and Daniel Sweatt.  Add their twitter feeds to your Google Reader.

7.  Go back to the Enation official website and join Enation Army.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for your first “monthly” newsletter. 

8.  Go to the band’s Myspace page, if you can remember how, just because it’s there and you’re obsessed now.   Find some other fans online to chat with about the band, because you’re starting to annoy your friends and co-workers.

9.  Go to Amazon.com and order your first mp3 player so you can buy the Enation albums at CD Baby that are only available as downloads. 

10.  Go back to the official Enation website, order an autographed Enation photo from the band’s store.  Feel a little bit of disappointment when the photo arrives because it doesn’t have Luke Galeotti’s autograph on it.  Then see it as an opportunity to get it autographed when you finally see the band perform live.  Print out a small photo of Luke, because you’ve downloaded hundreds of photos off the internet, then stick it on the band photo and pretend he’s in the picture.

11.  Start buying lottery tickets, and hold off planning your vacation until the band announces another set of tour dates.

12.  Wait patiently (or impatiently) for the next concert, the next CD, the next tee shirt, the next tweet, the next DVD, the next book of poetry, the next video, the next monthly(?) newsletter…because now you’re hooked.

Enation (click to see big and even bigger)

 

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