Soap opera ratings are always volatile, especially as seasons change. But last week, according to tvbythenumbers.com, “General Hospital” added 140,000 viewers up from the prior week.
The reason? The return of Genie Francis, who’s played Laura on the soap since she was a teenager. Francis has been gone for a couple of years this time. Now she’s back to help get Anthony Geary, who’s played Luke just as long, off the show for what’s supposed to be his “retirement.”
“General Hospital” also picked up 20,000 viewers age 18-49 last week. They’ve been struggling in that category recently with eight straight weeks of low numbers. They’re way off from one year ago in that regard.
Since I’m writing about soaps here, I will tell you that last week I had my own soap moment. At the party for Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet’s movie “A Little Chaos,” I had the honor of meeting the lovely actress Beverly Penberthy. She played Pat Randolph, a central character on the NBC soap “Another World” from 1968 to 1982. She was one of the real outstanding talents of the New York-Procter & Gamble soaps, understated and restrained, never a scene chewer, and a steady force in the days when I was doing homework. She was joined at the party by her real life daughter, Elizabeth, and her Elizabeth’s husband.
It turns out Beverly– who doesn’t look much different now– acted in the first ever play Alan Rickman directed in the U.S. It was called “Desperately Yours,” and was produced at the Colonnade Theater (now where Blue Man Group resides) in 1980, when Beverly was at the height of her long run on “Another World.” She and Rickman have remained close ever since then. Small world!
Of course we talked about the soap in depth since I had a lot of questions about all the actors and the characters– they all seemed very real back then. Beverly is still quite friendly with a few who remain above ground (“Another World” had a back mortality rate) including Susan Sullivan, who played Lenore Curtin before going on to prime time. (She’s on “Castle” now after long runs on “Dharma and Greg” and “Falcon Crest.”)
It was just swell to meet the Penberthy’s although Elizabeth did have to caution me a few times that her name is not Marianne (Pat’s TV daughter) and that everything that happened on the show was fiction. I’m still getting over that.