The morning of
the GH Luncheon, Diva call time as at 6:30 a.m. Six thirty? Katrina was kidding,
right? For this night owl, that is unheard of. Thank God for the West Coast time
differential! I actually made it to bed at a reasonable hour L.A. time on
Friday so breakfast with the ladies wasn’t too hard to make on time. The first
thing I realized as we sat down was that they had done this many times before. I
was a newbie. I stuck out.
“You can help
with set up and check in,” Katrina said, “And then just sit and enjoy the
luncheon, take pictures, etc. You’ll be our eyes and ears since we’ll be running
around like crazy.”
What? I felt
like Scrappy Do who was being told that he (I) was too young to be part of the
mission. I wanted to pile into the Mystery Machine with the other Divas. I
didn’t argue but secretly wanted to help them and pull my weight at the event.
But a woman who has raised six kids, maintained a successful online board for
years and is a vet of the GH Fan Luncheon knew her stuff. I completed my set-up
duties and planted myself front and center at table 8.
I sat with a
lovely bunch of Greg Vaughan fans that he affectionately dubbed his “angels”.
Since I’d attended three of Greg’s events in the last year, faces and names were
familiar and I felt right at home. (So I’d gone from Diva to Angel simply by
taking a seat!)
was scheduled to begin at 11:30 but a press junket for Night Shift had
many actors tied up at the studio so there was plenty of time to mill about and
see the many tables of fan merchandise and memorabilia for giveaway or for sale.
It was literally like a trade show for General Hospital! I stopped by to see
Shari, president of Tyler Christopher’s fan club. We’d corresponded a few times
via e-mail but had never met. I fired off a few shots with the camera and then
stopped by Jim Warren’s table to see with the fuss was about. I’d heard a lot
about this guy and wanted to see his work and perhaps say hello since he was
standing there. The shots are good. After all, he’s got amazingly photogenic
subjects to work with!
great!” I complimented him. “But then again, I’m only an amateur photographer.”
I’d heard that
Jim was a man of few words. For me, he lived up to his reputation.
over to the table where there were bottles displayed looking curiously like
wine. “General Hospital Wine?” I thought to myself. Holy merchandising! They
didn’t, did they? The Sears Luke and Laura ring was pushing it (wink, wink to
Katrina!) but this was over the top.
Turns out that
it wasn’t wine at all. It was a highly concentrated super juice called MonaVieÔ
that many of the actors indulge in for good health, the most vocal being Steve
Burton. I spoke to the lovely lady at the table, Georgia, and I have to admit
that I was fascinated at the prospect of the benefits of MonaVieÔ but, being a
natural skeptic, I wanted proof. Too tempted by the opportunity to look and feel
as good as Steve Burton (and no, I do not mean literally look like him!
LOL!) and by my recent conversion to a more organic lifestyle, I purchased a
afternoon I was fortunate to get a personal endorsement of MonaVieÔ from Steve,
who obviously pays special attention to his health and fitness (right,
Kathy?). I’d never met Steve before and he was lovely. Those blue eyes were so
bright that they looked almost alien! Also, I found him to be a very gentle and
warm personality, a far cry from the mob enforcer he plays on GH.
As Heart’s Ann Wilson sings in Magic
“…I’ve never seen eyes so blue…”
I won’t pour
on the sales pitch, but I will say that I am now affiliated with the company and
have brought the nectar back to my home in the Midwest. It’s helped me feel much
more energized and it’s helping others whom I’ve shared it with. It’s worth a
look-see. Check it out on
www.monavie.com and draw your own conclusions.
Soon John J.
York (Mac Scorpio) came into the room with a hand held mic working the crowd
like a talk show host. Some of the stars had arrived but were involved with
press in the green room so he was elected “song and dance man” to keep the
restless crowd engaged and brimming with anticipation. I’ve never met or seen
John before but I have to say that he is one of the best looking and charming
individuals on the planet! He floated from table to table engaging the audience
with ease until it was finally time to get down to business.
I was so happy
to see John Ingle back on GH! No offense to Jed Allan but, after David Lewis,
John just IS Edward. Part of it could be the fact that he’s taught acting and
has a naturally nurturing side to him when he’s working with cast mates. It
could be his eyes, which can go from surely to serene and filled with pride.
Whatever it is, when he took the podium he had my full attention as, one by one,
he introduced the cast to a reception of thunderous applause.
Port Charles’s patriarch, Edward
athletes taking the field before a big game, the actors briskly entered the
room, climbed the stairs hugging “Coach” Ingle before finding their seats while
high-fiving and greeting each other. Some of these actors don’t work together
often so you could feel a real sense of excitement and camaraderie coming from
the stage as they chatted and caught up with one another.
Um, Tyler … What are you daydreaming
While waiting for things to get underway, Rick Hearst proudly points out his
“Ma” Ann and son Cameron seated at a front table.
Photo courtesy of Shelley Brown
When all were
up there, I couldn’t help but to feel a little uncomfortable for them. I mean,
I’m SURE that they were thrilled to look out over hundreds of fans cheering and
applauding, but part of me wondered what it must feel like having all those eyes
staring back at you amidst a sea of flash bulbs. You could tell those who were
more comfortable than others and I noticed that Maurice Benard (Sonny) was
conspicuously absent from the grand cast entrance. (He made a more underscored
entry later sneaking in flanked by Jim Warren.)
welcoming everyone again it was explained that this year, due to time
constraints, there would be no awarding of fan club honors from the stage. (I’m
not an official member of the GH Fan Club, but if I were, I might have been
disappointed about that. I’ve always heard that was a big part of the event.)
Some were verbally announced but Debbie Morris has them all listed on the
official Fan Club Web site. Note: You may need to scroll down on the page to
find the awards. http://www.ghfanclub.net/ghnews.html
rose and announced that every year it is customary to contribute to a chosen
charity. This year Debbie Morris, with the full support of the cast, was
donating the substantial financial gift to help the critically ill baby son of a
close friend of Greg Vaughan’s.
Greg up to tell the audience a little more about this incredibly heart wrenching
situation. Greg tried but could barely keep his composure as he choked out his
words between sobs. It was a rare moment, when the line between actors and fans
was erased and we were all human beings sharing our concern about the welfare of
a helpless little boy. For a several minutes, you could hear a pin drop in that
As Greg sat
down, still very emotional, the mood was somber until Nancy Lee Grahn suddenly
jumped up and grabbed a microphone imploring the audience to add to the total by
auctioning off a studio tour for six people including lunch at the studio with,
“the entire cast!”
10?” Steve Burton quickly tempered her promise. Although Nancy’s enthusiasm
runneth over, the likelihood of fulfillment on that is slim to none due to
conflicting schedules. (Smart move, Steve!)
Nancy kept on
barking for bids when Rick Hearst rose and grabbed the mic muttering “Give me
that!” and treating the audience to a little bit of that creative tension that
made “Ric and Alexis” such a popular couple. Behaving more like a competitive
brother and sister, the two managed to coax the bids up, even promising at one
point that Brian Frons himself would attend. There were two fairly competitive
groups bidding and, in the end, Frons consented to two tours, which brought
$12,000 each. (No word on if he plans on attending those lunches!)
Leave it to Ric and Alexis to make sparks fly for charity!
The spirit of
charity sufficiently fueled by the antics on stage, a few other actors added
silent auction items including Greg Vaughan, who put up for bid a picture taken
with him to be printed in Soap Opera Digest. It didn’t take long for the
“angels” at my table to respond and we ended up winning the posed shot to be
taken by none other than GH photographer extraordinaire, Jim Warren. The photo
was published in the August 21 issue. For those who missed it, here it is!
Photo by Jim Warren.
time was of the essence, so the stars adjourned to their respective tables to
sign autographs and pose for pictures. Guests were dismissed table by table, so
that the initial pandemonium was kept to a minimum. I moseyed up to Tyler
Christopher’s table first and then kind of made the rounds snapping candids for
Eye On Soaps in between. I’d heard from many people who’d attended that
it was impossible to see all of your favorites. My experience was quite the
I had a plan.
The lines that were smallest were the ones I’d hit first. As I suspected, these
were the people who slipped out earlier but still I got quality time with each
one of them. If I’d been fortunate enough to visit with them the night before at
the Kick-Off, or I’d see them at another event, I made them a lesser priority.
(Pretty well thought out, huh?)
I was THRILLED
to finally meet Stuart Damon (Alan Quartermaine) and, I must say, that he me
feel like a little girl again.
“I loved you
when you were prince charming!” I shamelessly gushed about his television
rendition of Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren. (Sneak a peek below! Seeing it
again made me verklempt!) Note: You may need to copy and paste in your
seemed pleased and then gave me a faux pout, “But do you still love me now?”
As if he had
to ask? My answer was a bug hug and I told him that he looked like he was having
so much fun playing Alan’s ghost and he said, “Darlin’, I’m having the time of
I got to chat
with Megan Ward, (Kate Howard) who was really cute and bubbly. Annie Wersching
(Amelia Joffe) was a riot! Although I didn’t get a shot with her, I really
enjoyed telling her that I love watching her put the screws to Sam! The minute
Josh Duhon (Logan Hayes) saw me approaching dangling two pairs of diva glasses,
he immediately lit up grinning, “Julie loves stuff like this!” She (Lulu)
grabbed them and instantly threw them on. Katrina’s featured quite a few shots
of these two in their spectacular shades!
earlier that I met Steve Burton but, in keeping things mobular, I also had a
brief first time encounter with “The Godfather” himself, Maurice Benard and his
latest mouthpiece Carolyn Hennessy (Diane Miller). Carolyn proved to be one of
my favorite people and seemed to be having a blast at her first GH fan event.
We’ve only recently gotten to see what true potential she has on screen. The
recent courtroom scenes at Jason’s trial and the amusing dinner with Sonny -
crashed by a lofty Kate Howard - afterward show just how talented she is; I hope
that they expand her role. She, as they say, has got the chops!
Close Encounter with a Mob Boss!
Hangin’ with the Mob Lawyer
I popped over
to the next room to see Laura Wright but that line was insane! I still managed
to grab a few candids of her greeting fans and, when she spied my lens, Laura
threw a radiant smile my way. Again, she seems like the kind of lady who knows
what she wants and like she knows how to have a good time!
Laura flashes her pearly
whites for the camera
As I made my
way back to the main ballroom, Kathy called me over to tell me that she had to
dash off to another event and asked if I would mind helping with Rebecca
Herbst’s fan line for the remainder of the afternoon. It was in doing that,
which the whole “fan experience” came full circle for me. I suddenly understood
why Katrina wanted me to enjoy the luncheon experience strictly from the fan’s
point of view. I also understood how important it was to the organizers and to
the actors for each and every fan to walk away with a positive experience. Given
the fact that there were hundreds of people in attendance, that had to be a
Still, as I
stood taking shot after shot of fans excitedly posing with Becky and/or her
husband Michael (Saucedo ex-Juan, who’d arrived toward the end of the event) I
was having a ball! I could see that the pictures were going to make them as
happy as I was in the many photos I’ve had taken over the years. I really
enjoyed that. It was fun! Becky and Michael were also very gracious to pose with
me for their last shot of the day. Thanks, you two!
The last shot of the day with Becky and Michael
By the time the event was over and the last
stars were escorted out (Rick Hearst, Greg Vaughan, Jason Thompson and Kimberly
McCullough, Rebecca Herbst and Laura Wright were the final stragglers), I was
beat. Happy? Damned straight! It was an afternoon I’ll never forget. That
evening, as Katrina, Carolyn and I sat lazily around the pool sipping a tall
cold one, I realized that I was exhausted but it was sweet, satisfied,