Ron Carlivati Fired From 'General Hospital' as Head Writer, Replaced by Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante

Ron Carlivati
Ron Carlivati has been fired as head writer of General Hospital, after winning the WGA Award earlier this year for writing in a daytime drama.

Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante have been named new co-head writers of GH, taking over on August 10.

“We are pleased to welcome back two esteemed writers to our General Hospital family,” said Vicki Dummer, Executive Vice President Current Series Programming, in a statement. "Shelly and Jean’s combined talents and experiences promise to continue the show’s legacy of compelling storytelling that will resonate with our impassioned viewers. We’re delighted with what they have in store for the show as they continue honoring the rich, diverse environs of Port Charles.”

Altman is a multiple Emmy award-winner who worked on One Life to Live and The Young and the Restless, as well as GH and Another World. Passanante previously served as head writer and co-head writer for several daytime dramas, including Y&R, All My Children and As the World Turns. She has won four Daytime Emmy awards, six Writer’s Guild awards and five GLAAD media awards.

Carlivati moved to GH in early 2012, along with executive producer Frank Valentini, after ABC canceled One Life to Live. Carlivati won a Daytime Emmy award in 2008 for his work at OLTL.

24 comments:

  1. Something has been amiss at GH for a while so I personally thought a change was needed, maybe beyond just the head writer. But it's quite discouraging at times to love this genre so much and see the same few people get hired, fired, rehired, fired again, etc, etc. I understand that daytime has become an assembly line that's driven by budget, at least the hourlong shows, but sure some new blood could be cultivated to write fresh and innovative stories for soaps that air in the afternoon. When there rumors started swirling about Ron's exit, there was zero doubt in my mind that Jean would take over or be involved in some way. She has worked for Frank Valentini multiple times. It's just the same old thing over and over.

    With that rant aside, "something" needed to be done so at least ABC is invested in making GH better, whether this is the right team to do it or not. Wishing them luck.

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    1. Roger - I completely agree with you regarding the recycling that daytime constantly does. I fault it for a lot of what is wrong in the genre and feel it is a major reason why we only have four soaps on the air right now.I would have loved to see Kate Hall or Scott Sickles take a stab at things though That being said I think that GH could have done a lot worse than who they have hired and am looking forward to seeing what a woman's touch will bring to the overly misogynistic show. Something really needed to be changed creatively with GH. I was enjoying Ron's work on the show until I wasn't and I don't know if I trusted him to turn it around when it seemed everything was just getting worse.

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    2. I don't have any details on whether something changed behind the scenes this year (network inference?) but, other than some of the Nurses Ball, the fun, comedy "spirit" GH had with Ron writing that I enjoyed a lot completely vanished. And every day there are 2 or 3 people having a conversation over the entire episode where it feels like they are talking and talking without really saying anything significant, with tags that lead nowhere. The worst thing you can do is make viewers feel like they're wasting their time.

      Ron has a true love for the genre and he may be one writer I wouldn't mind seeing recycled somewhere once he recharges his batteries and has a chance to step back and evaluate things. But mostly I'd love to see a few great indie writers who would want to write for daytime soaps be added to these teams. There are so many fresh ideas being written on serial dramas for the web. And those people probably come a lot cheaper too.

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    3. It does seem like Ron is the sacrificial lamb. He was able to write a lot for fun stuff for the series and something happened that stopped that. I'm hoping the new writers can still bring fun to the series though they seem much more subdued. I completely agree in regards to the indy writers. Series like The Bay are getting things done! Someone needs to start reaching into that talent pool.

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  2. Sadly, that's been true of daytime for far too long. There's no cultivation of new talent or new ideas/new approaches.

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    1. B&B is so terrific and the scripts are wonderful. I wish ratings reflected the quality of the shows in daytime more than they do. I'd love to see the hourlong soaps look at what B&B is doing right and try to emulate in some ways, especially the gorgeous look of the show, the story pace, the lack of pointless conversations that go on and on, etc.

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  3. I'd like them to explore Morgan's possible gambling addiction I did not understand why that was so suddenly dropped. I also wonder if Ron's firing could be due to Mr. Geary's comments on "the Writer" never speaking to him.

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    1. Former 'Soap Digest' editor Carolyn Hinsey has called bullshit on Geary's comment, said she knows for a fact that they've spoken plenty.

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  4. I've loved Ron's work since OLTL so I am sad to see him go. Do people not realize that he reports to the producer, who approves casting, plotlessness and scripts? Frank Valentini seems like a great guy but where does the buck stop? Its not like a head writer can just do whatever he wants (which is what Ken Corday seems to want people to think). Whether you liked Carlivati's work or not, Altman and Passante are just the same ol' same ol'. Carlivati was too good a talent to just throw out.

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    1. Oops, that was supposed to be "plotlines."

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    2. With this hiring, it does seem like GH wanted familiar writers who could fit Valentini's vision for the show, or someone who could make work the restrictions in place (non-stop casting, contract limits, production issues, etc) work. My dream would be a really strong writer with a great vision that Valentini could help produce but it seems like we're stuck with no new blood.

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    3. I think there will be plenty of blood when characters start getting axed. I don't want to jinx anyone by speculating, but I wouldn't make any big purchases if I were a GH actor!

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  5. Totally depressed by this news. Ron brought back the real GH I remembered growing up (Bobbie, Lucy, Quartermaines front and center). Passanante ruined AW, AMC, and ATWT with her dark stories, non-character development, and (Goutman-pushed) OTT villain of the month stories at ATWT. Shelly Altman I have nothing against. But I am really hoping ABC is not going to push off the vets who have returned.

    Ron Carlivati is extremely talented and I hope another soap snatches him quickly.

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    1. Join me for a quaalude and a cocktail! I'm ready to call it a day over this news. I think some bloodshed is inevitable and it usually starts with the oldest actors. GH may be overpopulated but I don't want to lose a single character!

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  6. Do we know for sure that Carlivati was fired or might this have been a mutual decision? Passante re-joining the writing team seemed like a major sign that his days were numbered. Frankly, I'm surprised that any writer could survive soap opera writing for more than a year. In these days of instant commentary and criticism on social media, it can't be easy to keep pushing the scripts out while your work gets ripped to shreds on a daily basis.

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  7. I just might start tuning in again. This was a move in the right direction IMO.

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  8. GH has been horrible these past few months. I have only tuned in for Luke's exit story. I welcome the head writer change but I am not happy it's another recycled fired headwriter. This is the problem with daytime soaps they do not welcome change

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  9. I'm also saddened by the new of Carlivati's firing. Although it's true, that storylines like Jake Doe is running far too long and needs to end, It doesn't change the fact that he helped make GH an ensemble show again. For me no matter how bad the show may seem now, it's nowhere near as bad as it was before Ron and Frank came in. Before they showed up, I'd given up hope that GH would take the focus off Sonny and the mob and make it an ensemble show again, but miraculously they did. For the first time in years I'd been looking forward to GH. I do wish the new writers good luck, but my biggest fear about the writer change is that any of the progress made that improved the show over the years will be lost and replaced with stories that will surely send it straight into cancellation.

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  10. I've never been a fan of RC's storytelling style. It always felt like a similar arc kept getting repeated. A mystery is presented, the entire canvas gets effected, then six months later a character gets a long expository speech to explain the solution. From OLTL's 2 Todd's to Fluke every story had the same beats. No characters are given agency to solve the mystery so there's no rooting value. The audience never know more that the characters so there's no investment. There were no clues given along the way. Although those speeches were always good, and often won emmys, it never made up for laconic plotting between the start and end of stories. In this case, firing the writer makes sense because GH has become a story where things just happen to people rather than characters moving the plot forward. Whoever writes next, I hope that they remember that two characters who've known each for years talking about motivation is cheaper and more interesting than discovering who stole the latest mcguffin. To this day the highest rated episode of the British soap Eastenders was over 20 years ago with just two characters (Angie and Den) discussing their impending divorce in one set for 22 minutes. Keep it simple and dramatic and soap fans will always be hooked.

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  11. why couldn't they get Sri Rao - he was head writer for gh night shift.................

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    1. I thought of Sri too. Seems like we're stuck with a rotating group of former soap head writers with no one else ever even considered. It's too bad.

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  12. Trim the cast. Make GH about the Hospital and the Police dept/ELQ thats it. Have those characters revolve around those areas. Thats it.

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  13. With regard to the rehiring of other soap writers, I agree with the age-old defense which is that soap writing requires so many scripts per year being written for large cast with fifty years of history that it would be an impossible feat for any new writer and networks wouldn't want to risk it. On the the hand, when writers with a very specific voice are hired for soaps, I often wish that they were given a clean slate rather than having to deal with the many characters written into a corner that GH has become.

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  14. You're right about one thing M. They will definitely be getting rid of the veterans before they get rid of the younger actors. Some the veterans like Maurice Bernard and Laura Wright I know will be safe, but it's veterans like Jacklyn Zeman and Kin Shriner I think we should be worried about . We may not see them onscreen a lot, but I do like when they do appear. I know a lot of people on the boards are hating the writing right now. I think the reason the writing doesn't bother me so much is because I've been watching GH since 1993 and there were times for me that this show was a lot worst than it seems to be for lot of people right now. Say what you want about Carlivati, but he had a great way of introducing new characters over the years who were tied to at least someone or a storyline from the past. For instance, Brad Cooper being tied to the Wu family from the Asian Quarter storyline and Britta being the daughter of Cesar Faison. I don't believe any of this would've happened with any other writer. Although I hate that he's leaving and understand that a change is needed according to the ratings and fans on the board, I do sincerely hope for our sakes that the change works and doesn't hurt the show even more.

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