Saturday, April 20, 2024

“General Hospital” Replaces Head Writer After Three Months of Sinking Ratings


The world of soap operas is volatile. Just watch the movie “SoapDish” for a primer. It’s brutal, with more bodies littering backstage than in front of the camera.

So ABC has replaced Ron Carlivati, head writer of “General Hospital.” They’ve endured three months of sinking ratings without a turnaround. During his reign, Carlivati had very high ratings, was credited with saving the show from cancellation, and brought back a lot of favorite actors who’d been treated badly during the preceding decade.

But everyone burns out, and this was Carlivati’s turn. It’s hard to imagine writing a soap– five days a week, 40 or so characters, some of whom contractually have to be on all the time even if there’s nothing for them to do. And someone has to remember what happened when, otherwise you get people coming back from the dead without organs, or houses revisited that recently exploded.

I do tune in to “General Hospital” occasionally, when the news is slow on CNN or the box office numbers are still coming in. I do love Finola Hughes, but she took the summer off. Genie Francis is back, so it feels like old times. Anthony Geary is leaving on Monday after 37 years, but I think he’ll be back.

Oh well, soaps are old news when you see the crazy people on the court shows coming in with man bites dog stories. In five years they will probably be gone, but you never know. My guess is, Carlivati will back before that. At least he brought in Donna Mills. He gets a lot of thanks.

This got cut off: Carlivati is replaced by Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman, two smart veteran soap scribes. They’ve got to clean house, get rid of a bunch of extraneous characters who never gelled, and somehow restore heroine Elizabeth to sainthood. I do hope they retain some of Carlivati’s hip humor, though. He always threw in funny one liners from the real world.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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