COGGIE: I’d have included OLTL, but I’ve yet to watch the missing episodes in their entirety. I can’t wait. Thumbs-up in advance for those who care (and take my columns seriously). 

ALL MY CHILDREN Quickie: What the heck was that on my screen the other week, Ryan threatening Greenlee with bodily harm? Or, at least trying in vain to look remotely threatening. Cameron Mathison is a sweetheart in real life; alas, the man cannot do menacing, as a straightforward maneuver or in context of Ryan reining in his aggression. If I were on the set, I’d have burst into laughter. 


If only the momentum ebbed and flowed on GENERAL HOSPITAL, dwelling a bit longer than a five-second cliffhanger on the relationships. Then, I might fall. 

“I feel like there’s this fairy tale that’s being written and the happy ending doesn’t include me.” –Courtney to Nikolas, 7/15/05, GH

This show drives me crazy. One day, it’s riddled with inconsistencies, driven by incidentals and total crap; the next, it’s almost a soap opera again. I’m half-convinced two different sets of writers – none of them head honchos Pruza – take turns. 

On the 15th and/or 18th – sorry, I’m behind a bit on catching up – I watched what amounted to an intimate stage play about relationships, misunderstandings, let-downs, tentative resolutions, assertions from desperation and desire ... as Lorenzo, openly wounded, openly wondered if maybe he wasted his hopes on Carly in the face of another deception chasing after Sonny via Reese, Lucky fell to his knees, gazed openly upon the woman who gave him validation as a man, Elizabeth, in a surprise marriage proposal, Nikolas commiserated over his failure as a man in love with Emily, still fighting off the visage of her dead rapist in her besotted husband. 

Most of the dialogue came off as juvenile, clichéd, forced, rushed, especially Nikolas and Courtney’s. It’s no secret portrayer Tyler Christopher wants this pairing; he made that clear at his GH Fan Club event on Sunday, July 17 (some reported that the attending crowd kept silent, then erupted into boos at the thought of Courtney instead of Emily). Alicia Leigh Willis, on the other hand, hasn’t said a word about it to my knowledge; rumors, however, has her just wanting an end to the GH tenure already. 

With scenes plucked seemingly out of nowhere, without character development, any sense of history – even week to week is all I ask – or common sense, I don’t blame Willis. Her character Courtney does sparkle with Christopher’s Nikolas, just as Maurice Benard’s Sonny had with Sarah Brown’s Carly and Nancy Lee Grahn’s Alexis. See the similarities? 

But my advice to THE POWERS THAT BE [TPTB] is to use that spark to slowly introduce the pair to each other, allowing them to converse beyond sharing sob stories about their current love lives, maybe even show them in each other’s elements – he in the stables, riding horses, teaching her multiple foreign languages, fending off Helena, mourning Stefan, she at her foundation office, saving children’s lives, arguing with exes and her mob brother. 

The impromptu punching bag scene went a long way toward cementing Courtney and Nikolas as friends, with the potential for more. Courtney accidentally socking Nikolas in the nose, instead of the makeshift bag of wheat, had me rolling and revealed more sides to these two usually dour, intense beings than any meaningless conversation with their significant others. 

Only... that scene followed a series of others, within a span of ONE EPISODE, serving as the flirting courtship phase, boy meets girl again, boy and girl gripe about each other’s main squeezes, boy and girl counsel each other, boy and girl engage in some spontaneous horseplay, joking and bantering afterward. Normally in soaps, the one episode accounting for maybe 15 minutes of airtime would span at least a year. 

This week, boy and girl will find themselves tempted to take their friendship (in my world, friendships took longer than two five-minute encounters to be legit) to the next, lusty level, a stolen kiss, a desire for another one on a rainy rooftop, maybe more. 

Nikolas and Emily barely talked themselves about what he’d overheard her confide in to Jason about not feeling the same, about it being a struggle still to connect after the rape. One conversation, zero scenes leading up to Nikolas confiding in Courtney about his marital troubles, save for one blow-out in front of Sonny (to test Sonny and Emily’s chemistry) and a few furtive, disappointed looks, hardly development...and all of a sudden, Nikolas is giving Courtney a second look? 

Most of Nikolas and Emily’s ongoing love story has been through Nik’s narratives to Courtney – foreplay in the eyes of TPTB. 

The situation is worse between Jax and Courtney. They’ve had fewer development, just a quickie marriage and constant, obsessive talk of having a baby (nobody in real life does this) ASAP, with a few plot twists along the way to spice up the recast Carly’s fairly new introduction – How far will Carly go to mess up Courtney’s walk down the aisle! Watch Jennifer Bransford in action, and accept her immediately! 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jax and Courtney really date, get to know one another, at work and at play, follow through outside of the S&C and Jason distractions. Now, they’re all about another outside obstacle, what the surrogacy with Elizabeth will do to their quickie marriage. 

When Courtney poured out her heart to Nikolas about feeling inadequate compared to a pregnant Liz, and how she further felt as if she and Jax were drifting apart, I had to question my recollection. When did this drifting apart and rise in insecurity happen? It surely didn’t happen in front of me. 

The danger of basing much of a new story on the characters’ individual motivations and feelings is that writers must back them up – with scenes showing motivations and feelings – beforehand, or else Courtney loses credibility, and is viewed as a shallow, whiny idiot that the audience never really knew after all. Having the audience as a whole question their recollection, doubt a major female character TPTB had invested so much time, energy and story after story in, and thus, forcing this audience to give up on someone formerly strong, confident and brave like Courtney is about as smart a move as a) killing off Billy Warlock’s A.J., b) making a little boy the killer of his biological father then turning around and changing the killer in the middle of the game, and c) heralding a hurricane that did little but waste the participating actors. 

At some point, the audience gives up paying any attention, or caring. And then you have throwaway scenes meant for importance like, Carly wheeled out in a stretcher after falling and hitting her head on the sofa armrest, and everybody in the room hardly noticing. They hardly noticed because minutes earlier, Reese fell and conked herself unconscious (Reese, who has suffered at least three car accidents in a handful of months only to walk away miraculously unscathed) in the stables, but recovered in a flash. And because characters on GH do that all the time, triumph over monumental disasters, danger, threats, some doing so three or four times in a week, without breaking into a sweat or worrying about the outcome, the show disintegrates into a cartoon. 

Used to be, on GH especially, that when a character injured herself and went to the ER, viewers and characters worried for longer than 10 seconds about the dire diagnosis (remember Dominique dying, leaving lasting consequences for Scott and Lucy?, the original B.J.’s Heart?, Stone and AIDS?). No longer. 

Today, nothing makes a dent. 



Let’s see if I can’t rustle up more from my memory banks about the four days in July I spent at Studio City, CA’s Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel, amongst fans and a smattering of passing stars. 

“Who’s this? Who’s this?” – Cynthia Preston (ex-Faith, GH) to my husband Eddie, about our cute three-year-old son James, checking out the Kurth & Taylor concert from afar.

I’ve mentioned how much I loathe the typical soap fan recap of soap fan events, haven’t I? About a million times, gee I’m almost as repetitious as they are. 

This year’s recaps from the annual GENERAL HOSPITAL FAN CLUB WEEKEND (July 14-18, 2005) in Studio City, CA’s Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel on the various message boards have, for the most part, been much of the same, with few exceptions: 

Fans and fan base members giving shout-outs to fellow fans and fan base members, detailing every step of the way toward hallowed L.A., including side trips to see stage productions and musical performances in the city and cities close by. 

A couple fan recappers distinguished themselves in a not-so-pleasant way with me by giving off a distinctly boastful vibe in their name-dropping excuse to show off how tight they are with most of their favorite stars and their stars’ families. I read one where conceit practically dripped from every other sentence, bragging about lunch with one star, sharing insights and confidences with another, exchanging secret clubhouse handshakes with a few more. 

For my first time at the fan club weekend, I tried mightily to avoid the same pitfalls while recapping my observations. I failed sometimes, falling in line with the very clichéd recaps that I myself loathed to read. 

But three of those clichés are impossible to avoid for anybody attending a soap event because, like any cliché, they’re timeless, classic and true

  1. It’s almost as exciting (moreso for yours truly) to spot a fellow fan you’ve met or heard about online in person as it is to spot a soap star passing by. My greatest disappointment wasn’t in missing the Saturday cast luncheon, but in missing out on Iwa’s late-night hotel room party, not pestering EYE ON SOAPS’ Katrina Rasbold more about other SOAPZONE and SOAPTOWN USA sightings. Or crowing in private with the EOS staff about certain obnoxious individuals in the soap community at Twain’s restaurant over late dinner.
  2. Oftentimes, in lieu of any soap star sighting or meaningful soap star interaction, riffing on the ordinary drudgery of traveling helps break up the monotony and provides personalized interest. If, y’know, you’re into that. If I know you, know of you, such drudgery detailing is about as exciting to me as watching Kari Wuhrer (Reese) shake her groove thing on TV, and for me, that’s fine entertainment, on par with an Oscar performance (translation: detail away). If I don’t know you, however, I could care less. I thought crashing through a faulty chair at Nancy Lee Grahn’s (Alexis) fan event was interesting to report. A stranger or an enemy of my column-writing, would not care at all, and wonder where my spoilers were.
  3. The requisite verbal fawning over the physical and personality attributes of the soap stars – why, they’re prettier and skinnier and nicer than on TV – is always a requisite turn-off. That is, until you’re standing face to side of the face with Wally Kurth (Ned) strolling past, heading toward a group of fans chatting with Jennifer Bransford (Carly) as Cynthia Preston (ex-Faith) and Lindze Letherman (Georgie) help with a BINGO game inside the Vista Room of the hotel. These soap stars really give new meaning to heaven on earth; they’re on television and in movies for a good reason, they exude not just physical beauty and inner grace, the most of them, but a special aura reserved only for the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. Even as my husband Eddie and our son James, 3, chatted casually with Dylan Cash (Michael) like he was a neighborhood pal, while checking out of the hotel lobby, I couldn’t help but squeal inside, “Holy Moly! It’s Dylan Little Killer Boy Michael Cash! And James just touched his red-orange hair!”

3. (b) Tamara Braun (ex-Carly), Steve Burton (Jason), Blake Gibbons (Coleman), Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), Rick Hearst (Ric), Cynthia Preston (ex-Faith), Greg Vaughan (Lucky), John J. York (Mac)... these are just a few names perennially brought up as examples of accessibility by fans attending their personal appearances, SSW and GHFC Weekend. Hearst, Grahn and Vaughan are notorious for the lengthy one-on-ones with fans. The first hundred times, I duly noted them and moved on. The second and third hundred times, I started getting irritated. Okay. Those of us who read the boards and the soap tribute sites GET. THE. POINT. ALREADY. Any scoops? 

But when you’re painfully shy, and going to one of these soap events is out of your normal comfort zone of wallflower in the corner sipping her iced tea, it helps to be reminded, again and again, just which star is approachable, which star is better left alone and which star—well, it just depends on which side of the bed they woke up on in the morning. 

I sure did appreciate knowing in advance. The fans who reiterated their list of friendly faves were right every time. Scott Clifton (Dillon) went by me after the autograph session of the Saturday luncheon, slowing down, turning his gaze toward a few of us straggling fans hoping for a glimpse of celebrity, and reacted for a split-second to my gaping half-smile, before walking off to the valet parking lot in the back. He was the only GH actor to almost-acknowledge me from afar; quite a feat since I’m almost always the invisible one in every crowd (80 percent by intent). 

So, thank God for the clichés. Without them, I’d have been lost, and probably hiding in my hotel room, ordering room service, or sneaking off to a wide variety of cooler than cool eateries on Ventura Blvd., where the Sportsmen’s Lodge Hotel is located. (For another look back on my mostly uneventful 10-day road trip and the oddly comforting, oddly historic, oddly colorful Lodge Hotel, check out cubbyhole[s ic], the other – OT - EOS column I write.

And, thank God for the EOS staff members (boss Katrina Rasbold, Kathy Hardeman, Karen H., Dianna, Kelly B.) who flew and drove down to L.A. for this annual tradition, a few of them for the first time. 

A crucial (to me, anyway) caveat fans don’t tell you in their recaps is how scary attending the event alone can be. I stepped into the lobby of the Lodge Hotel and saw two groups of women sitting on sofas, chatting, laughing, and on a constant watch for their other friends, possibly some stars. I felt their strangers’ eyes burning into my back for a split-second then off on another distraction, inwardly relieved of my cipher status. After checking in, I later passed the pool on my way upstairs (we were staying in the upper-deck’s 622 room), and noticed more groups of women, a smattering of men among them, doing the same thing, laughing, chatting animatedly, occasionally glancing around, on the look-out, ignoring me. 

Although, in the back of my mind, I knew Katrina would soon be around, with Kathy and the gang, and I could always tag along with them, a large part of me froze with panic. I paused there on the stairs, wondering if maybe I could bail on this entire event and go with my husband and our son to LegoLand on Friday, then visit with my younger brother James in North Hollywood, tool around Universal Studios with the family... anything but stand here feeling out of place, friendless, odd and ugly, the usual. 

Once I made it to my hotel room, I had the presence of mind to make a cell call to Katrina, to try to locate her somewhere in L.A. I’d tried earlier – see? I’m giving boring (to you strangers) minutiae about my soap friend – but her cell service was out, probably out driving down here from the mountains. Katrina this time answered in her slow, Southern drawl, and darlin’-ed me downstairs into the Patio Café, where the rest of the staff had gathered for dinner. 

I made my way around the cliques, nervously, and peered through the clear, glass window into the restaurant from the outdoor section, half-afraid I went to the wrong place when— the most lovely sight awaited me: Confessions of a Media Ho's Karen H. almost burst from her chair, smiling and pointing my way, clearly overjoyed to see me in the flesh. (She doesn’t know this, but from then on, I felt safe with her around.) 

My first impressions of the other EOS writers: 

Kathy (SNAPSHOTS, On the Soap Box, Get on the Bus) is extremely tall, slim, graceful, beautiful and as accessibly friendly as any Nancy Lee Grahn. No jitters here, I was instantly at ease by her side, as she guided me visually around the Friday Greg Vaughan (Lucky) fan event, introducing me to an important Vaughan fan and manager of the “Lucky & Liz: New Beginnings”  MSN soap community, Chris "Birdie" Hawkins (gorgeous liquid brown eyes), joking about never winning anything while at Nancy Lee Grahn’s (Alexis) Friday evening goddess party (then later winning a signed soap magazine, because of my good luck presence)... Just watching her move around the ballrooms, meeting, greeting people effortlessly, she sees an unfamiliar but intriguing face and goes over to introduce herself, just wowed me. 

KellyB (Kelly's Diner) and Dianna (Dianna's Dimensions) have the kind of natural, full, voluptuous breasts a woman prays for. I believe Kelly was sporting the full-on whore blouse the night I met her, Sage would be proud. Kelly and Dianna seemed to have no fear of meeting the stars or mingling with fans like I did. I so admired them for that. In fact, when the Kristina twins arrived at Grahn’s goddess party, with their baby sister trailing behind, Dianna just got down on the floor with her camera and played with the little girl. I enjoyed listening to Kelly critique each event, before, during and after – most of her critiques I wouldn’t dare divulge, but they made the entire weekend’s worth of events worth crashing. I also enjoyed perusing Dianna’s folder full of signed memorabilia, along with a story she had for almost every one. These two really provided enormous help to Katrina and GH Fan Club’s Debbie Morris for the Saturday luncheon event – the weekend’s biggest – acting as runners and escorts, and generally putting the actors even more at ease. Kelly even joked around with Leslie Charleson (Monica) about her Happy Days role as the older woman who broke Ritchie Cunningham in with a kiss, dating both of them. 

I’d already described EOS publisher/owner Katrina back in December/January when I first met her at her Grizzly Flats home. Languid, serene, physically beautiful (in my eyes, she’s way slimmer than me), Katrina took care of me, putting to rest any of my previous anxiety about being left alone. She allowed me to crash in on Vaughan’s and Grahn’s fan events on Friday, introduced me to Maxine Bennett, a writer who runs Maurice Benard’s (Sonny) fan club (well, she did last time I checked Google)and a fan of my work, and to SOAPTOWN USA publisher Nina Gregerson, my former boss, and SOAPTOWN “GH Chronicles” columnist Max, pointed out stars I’d missed, brought my visiting brother an autographed photo of his idol, Kari Wuhrer (Reese)... 

And invited me to help out on Saturday, before, during and after the luncheon. I stalled for almost two days, worrying about my IBS-D holding up from 8 a.m. (helping the staff check fans in, interviewing in the green room) to after 3:30 p.m., as well as dwelling on my preternatural shyness. Right when I prepared to tell her I’d do the interviews and help check people in, my husband Eddie tells me the notary bringing our escrow papers will arrive on Saturday at 10 a.m., smack-dab in the middle of when I had to be right by Katrina’s side. To over-compensate for my not being there, I stayed up till past 12:30 a.m. the night of helping Katrina and Kathy think up interview questions for every cast member, with Karen joining us halfway through. 

That late-night session, plus the dinners – one at the Lodge Hotel, one at Twain’s – I shared with the girls, made my trip, made me feel less awkward and stupid.

When the girls went off to their paid events later on Saturday, I just went back to my hotel room, lonely and sad, ignoring the gathering crowd waiting in a queue for Steve Burton’s (Jason) event to open in the upstairs Vista Room, Saturday night. There in my air-conditioned room overlooking the parking lot, with CNN on TV and bad coffee from the bathroom coffee maker ... I stayed until Sunday 11 a.m. checkout, writing columns, losing some columns to a corrupt file, freaking out, rewriting the lost columns, Eddie recovering the files, playing cars with my son James and catching up on sleep. 

Eddie took off with his camera and James a couple of times Saturday night, just to get a breath of fresh air and leave me alone to write. He came back late with loads of fresh photos he’d take close up of a bunch of GH actresses who’d gathered by the pool and at Wally Kurth’s (Ned) concert. And, a few star-related anecdotes. Apparently, too, James stuck like glue to Dylan Cash (Michael) every time he spotted him poolside, yelling, “Dylan Cash! Dylan Cash!” Later, Cash would approach us and say how cute but weird it was that James always referred to him by his full name. 

A friend of mine named Lois, and a former GH fan, asked me the other day if I’d recommend the GHFC Weekend to her or anybody else. 

If they’re really into soaps, soap stars and soap fans, and don’t mind waiting around for one momentous event to another, especially in 90-100-degree summer heat, then yeah. 

If they’re like me, then, nah, not really. 


Carol's GHFCW 2005 Photo Gallery