Coming in Spring 2009: The Newly Updated GHFCW For Dummies!
Who at the GH Fan Weekend
IMPORTANT! If you need to contact any of these people during the Fan Weekend, find CLIFTON MORRIS! Clifton looks like a badass hard core no nonsense kind of guy. Do not be fooled. He is exactly all of those things. He is the one who can get you to the person you need to find because he is the one with the walkie talkie. Don't mess with Clifton. Just tell him what you need, give him some money or an offering of sweets and move along once he has helped you.
DO NOT hunt down or even quickly stop Debbie Morris and ask her if she knows or cares where anyone other than Debbie Morris is at any given moment. Find Clifton... Clifton... live it... know it... do it.
YOUR DEBBIES! Debbie Morris is
the person who is responsible for all aspects of the GH Fan Weekend. She
is also the GH Fan Club President. Debby O'Connor is the president of
several fan clubs for GH stars and coordinates some of the events for
those individual stars. Two different people doing different, but
sometimes similar, things!
Debbie Morris - This is the person who spends most of the year before working her butt off to plan out this event and about five minutes after the event recovering before she starts on the following year's event. She spearheads the entire production, from ticket sales to seating arrangement to planning the luncheon and several other events to scheduling the events that other people are hosting to wrangling vendors to inviting actors to arranging surprises to crisis management to anything else that needs to be done. She is the Mama of this whole event. Accept no substitutes but don't bug her. She's busy. Say hello. Say thank you. Smile. Leave. Better yet, wave fondly from across the room and hold up a sign with your name on it.
Debby O'Connor - Fan club president for several of the GH stars and coordinator of some of the events for the GH Weekend. Also serves as GH Fan Weekend staff, assisting Debbie Morris in check in for the Fan Luncheon and other functions as needed.
Stacey Lopez - Official video recording camera person. No one else is allowed to videotape the event.
Claire Mullan - Contact for the morning boutique. She is the person responsible for this all coming together. If anyone has questions or concerns during that time frame she is the person they should ask for. Learn who she is and remember her face. Ask her, not Debbie Morris!
George deMoss - Head of Event Security. For more minor questions, incidents, etc, you need to locate and bend the ear of Clifton Morris. He has been assisting George for years and they are the first in the security chain of command. They can take care of any small concerns you may have. "I lost my hat and camera" goes to Clifton. "Some crazy person just attacked Natalia Livingston in the ladies room" goes to George. Better yet, tell Clifton everything and let him get George.
Linda Howard - Your GH Fan Club liaison instead of bugging Debbie Morris. (Say the Debbie Morris Chant with me: "Hi, I'm ______, thank you, handshake, GO.") Linda has your the info you may need on your fan club membership, including how to register, what the benefits of joining would be, how much it costs, when your membership expires, etc, etc. Linda, NOT DEBBIE. She will take care of you.
Other Event Staff - Recognizable by badges identifying them as "event staff" or "event security." We will help you if we can or try and point you in the right direction.
For your reference and information, we are including brief interviews with a few of the special people intricately involved in arranging the yearly General Hospital Fan Club Weekend. A few additional interviews will be coming in the following weeks.
Debbie Morris, General Hospital Fan Club President since 1988, graciously offered a segment of time so we could chat about her life as Head of the General Hospital Fan Club, the Fan Club Weekend and General Hospital as an entity. The coolest thing about Debbie Morris is her love for the show, the actors, and her resulting involvement. And the woman has great stories to tell. C’mon, with 15 years as GH Fan Club President, admittance to green rooms, press rooms, dressing rooms, backstage happenings, the Daytime Emmy’s, and Soap Opera Digest Awards, she interacts with the actors on a regular basis. But let me tell you, with all her access, she’s aware that she walks a privileged path, and she still blushes if Maurice Benard teases her. Really. She told me.
One of the cutest stories she related had to do with a friend she took with her to the GH studio because she adores Maurice Benard. For storytelling purposes, I’ll call the friend Sally. Maurice was busy autographing and Debbie informed him that she’d brought Sally who admired him and asked if he’d mind meeting her and having a picture taken with her. (You know “admired him” really means she thinks he’s hot.) He said of course and Debbie called to Sally across the room to come meet Maurice. Sally, realizing that she was about to meet the object of her GH affections experienced one of those brain freezing, heart pounding he’s-so-gorgeous-there-he-is-in-living-color-my-knees-have-turned-to-jelly moments. So Sally waved hi to Maurice and asked him to come to her. Umm, this is not the way star/fan protocol works, so Debbie went to Sally and brought her to Maurice who was busy autographing. In a funny mood, Maurice stood, put his arm around Sally and leaned close to her asking, “Sally, you want some of this?” I would like to meet Sally because she blurted her next comment off the top of her head and I have been known to do the very same thing. She looked at Maurice and said, “Oh my gosh, I should have worn my Depends.” After a few beats, they all started laughing including Maurice and even now months later, they still break into giggles whenever they remember.
I bet, if you’ve ever thought about meeting one of the actors, you’ve imagined what you’d say and how cool you’d be, but according to Debbie, there’s a little bit of star struck that remains within every fan, including her.
Twenty-seven years ago, through a series of happenstances, Debbie became friends with Liz Reilly, wife of John Reilly a past GH cast member (ex-Sean Donely) and one of Debbie’s personal favorite actors. In fact, she called him her first soap star crush. Liz Reilly asked her to act as John Reilly’s Fan Club President and a joyful career was born. Not right away of course, at the time Debbie, a single parent, worked at another job. Obviously, she was an impressive Fan Club President for Mr. John Reilly because soon other actors were requesting her services. In 1988, Wendy Riche, Executive Producer at GH, asked if she’d be interested in taking over as GH Fan Club President because the originating president was retiring. This was the ultimate plum, to be Fan Club President for a show, and after carefully considering the time and commitment required Debbie accepted the position. When Port Charles arrived in the ABC Daytime line up she was offered that show as well.
Are you wondering what it means to be Fan Club President for a whole show? I mean besides the obvious perks of interacting with the actors, attending studio and fan events, along with glamorous award shows. I asked Debbie. Her finest hour of the year is the GH Fan Club Weekend. But before the weekend arrives, a whole year’s worth of work goes into site arrangements, coordinating events, scheduling actors, setting up photo ops with the press, and tons of grunt work stuffing envelopes, writing newsletters, and answering fans’ excited e-mails and letter queries. In addition, she acts as liaison between the studio and fans and promotes other GH related events during the year such as Super Soap Weekends. In an average day, she estimated that she receives about 200 snail mail and e-mails with numbers jumping significantly during November through February when club renewals and ticket arrangements are jumping.
Debbie is committed as GH’s Fan Club President to making the fans happy in whatever capacity she is able. Years ago, before her fan club president or GH fan club president days, Debbie flew to Los Angeles with a friend in the press who was interviewing an actor in the GH studio. Because she wasn’t press Debbie had to wait outside at the gate and she decided then and there that if she ever had access to a place like the General Hospital Studio, she’d make sure she shared the privilege with as many others as possible. With that mindset, over the years she’s arranged innumerable studio tours and meet and greets between fans and actors. However, with security becoming a major issue, studios have been forced to limit public access. Because studio access has become so limited, Debbie offers the two studio tours allowed by ABC in the raffle and not the silent auction at the Fan Weekend. Her commitment to the fans of General Hospital remains top priority because first and foremost, she too is a fan.
Dedicated to her show of choice, Debbie Morris moves mountains organizing the GH Fan Club Weekend. Quick to offer praise and credit, Debbie listed several people who have helped her for years. If you happen to meet these folks, thanks are in order.
These are the support staff that step in the day of the event to assist with preparations, handle glitches, and generally spread good cheer by taking responsibility for different aspects of the event.
My conversation with Debbie ranged from dressing room tales to miscellaneous details and practical advice about the Fan Club Weekend.
- Actors are encouraged to attend but it’s not a requirement. Most enjoy the event and try to participate but attendance is not guaranteed.
- Check in for the luncheon is strictly enforced between 8:30 and 9:30 for a reason. Please be on time with the required ticket and identification.
- Debbie loves seeing the fans having a good time, but is unable to answer questions during the weekend regarding fan club membership. Please don’t think she’s rude for directing you to another person.
- E-mails and letters requesting seating information will not be answered because the seating will not be done until a few days before the actual event. She can’t answer with information she doesn’t have yet.
- No making fun of the chicken. The most generic, least likely to offend meal, chicken you shall eat!
- Behind the scenes GH cast and crew often attend the event but don’t like to be introduced, such as Jill Farren Phelps and Mr. Guza or Mr. Pratt.
- If you put yourself in areas not designated for fans more than twice, security will be forced to escort you from the event. Please respect the rules and the actors. Debbie has been coordinating this event for 15 years and it was taking place for 15 years before that. The rules are there for a reason!
- Last year the Q and A was eliminated from the luncheon so fans could have more time for autographs and photo ops with the actors. This year will follow the same format.
- Not all scheduling has been confirmed leaving room for surprises. Be flexible.
A busy, dedicated woman, Debbie makes herself available to the legions of fans seeking information ranging from how to contact their favorite stars to studio policies. If she doesn’t know the answer, she knows who to ask In response to my question regarding the best part of her job, her answer followed immediately. She likes making the fans happy. In my opinion, she does her job well. If you need to find her, she can be reached at GHPCFanClub@aol.com. Snail mail should be addressed to Debbie Morris, P.O. Box 96737, Houston, Texas 77213. (But remember – she doesn’t have seating info and don’t mock the chicken!)
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