Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Claire Labine Answers YOUR Questions, Part Four

In Parts One and Two, Claire Labine answered your questions about her career as a writer and insights into the daytime genre.  In Part Three, she answered your questions specifically pertaining to RYAN'S HOPE.  In Part Four, the Divine Ms. Labine answers your questions about GENERAL HOSPITAL.  Enjoy!
GGmaire asks: With Jonathan Jackson's recent return to GENERAL HOSPITAL as Lucky, I was just wondering how you envisioned Lucky's character originally. What role did you think he would play in Luke and Laura's life? Did you envision them being good parents?
Claire Labine: I didn’t know that he was back! I think that kid was really smart, and I think both of his parents really loved him.  So he was not going to get into too much terrible trouble in my book.  I think he would push the edge of the envelope.  I giggled over the concept of Luke handling Lucky as an adolescent.  Because what can the kid pull that Luke doesn’t know?  How can he expect to get away with anything with Luke as his daddy? He’s not going to! I think it was the fun of that, the fun of him pushing the envelope, and then in his 20’s settled in.  I can see him as a second almost Luke.  Not the wild and desperate Luke that Tony [Geary] loved to be, and which he deplored my not writing.  He felt I didn’t understand him, but I really did.  I knew what [he wanted] but he played that a lot and we wanted to see Luke in another light.  Then as it worked out, he and Sonny’s partnership was good fun, at least in the beginning.  I don’t know what’s going on now.  So don’t tell me what Lucky is now, I don’t want to know.

islandlucy asks: As much as I loved the character of Sonny under your writing I really dislike how GENERAL HOSPITAL is now all about the mob. Sonny and Jason are two criminal characters that now rule all and it is so disheartening. The hospital is all but gone. The show is dark and soulless. Do you have any thoughts about why GENERAL HOSPITAL went in this direction?
Claire Labine: Yes I do.  Because those two actors [Maurice Benard and Steve Burton] are so good! I think of balance in all things.  Sonny and Jason as nothing but bad, after while, becomes a little wearing. I don’t know, I haven’t seen it.  Can’t truly comment.  But I can understand why anyone would get seduced into writing for them.  But at the same time there were so many other amazing talents available on that show.  Tony Geary among them, who I think is one of the best actors pound for pound in the business.  Ever. Ever.  Daytime, nighttime, anytime.

islandlucy asks: Do you ever regret placing so much focus on the mob and Sonny Corinthos?
Claire Labine: No.  Because I think we were going to moderate it, we were trying to.  I don’t think it would have gone this far and this long.  I think Brenda would have an affect on him in the end. That would have been fun to watch, his trying to stay out of it.  We tried to show him many lights.

Ben asks: I read that the storyline that reintroduced the Cassadines was based on an idea you had for the return of Luke and Laura, that somebody needed a bone marrow transplant and that is what brought them back to town. Any truth to that one?
Claire Labine: What? No.  The only transplant story was the heart transplant for Maxie.

Ben asks: Did you have any specific plans for Mary Mae Ward that were cut short by her real life death?
Claire Labine: Just that she was [pause], Rosalind Cash was such an amazing performer.  I adored writing for her.  I thought a black family, related to the Quartermaines, made an enormous amount of sense.  There was so much there that could have been played.  Roz’s death kind of took the heart out of it.  Everyone was so sad about that.  It really was quite a tragic loss.   

John asks: You were at ABC when it was bought by Disney (and probably when it was bought by Capital Cities before that). In retrospect, at the time Disney took over, it seemed like all three of those shows were doing some really groundbreaking things (none more so than your GENERAL HOSPITAL, of course), and then a few months later, not so much. Do you have any thoughts on how the new ownership affected the way the ABC daytime lineup was run?
Claire Labine: The Irish Mafia [aka Capital Cities] sold it to Disney, is that right? Daniel Burke and Thomas Murphy were fondly referred to as the Irish Mafia, I didn’t mean that meanly.  I thought they were a class act.  They came in [in 1985] and everybody was terrified.  Everyone said it was going to be gestapo, that there were going to be drug dogs in the building, none of which was the case.  They were broadcasters . They cared about broadcasting, they cared about the bottom line responsibly.  I had the greatest respect for them.  It was furthered by the fact that after they canceled [RYAN’S HOPE], Mr. Burke and Mr. Murphy had the guts to turn up at the wrap party and talk to everyone.  They were so gracious, and so regretful.  Helen [Gallagher] told them off.
We Love Soaps: So did Disney make a difference creatively?
Claire Labine: I don’t know.  I don’t think Disney had really begun to have an affect on it while I was around.  God knows they were totally supportive of Pat Fili-Krushel, and Pat supported us as Mickey [Alice Dwyer-Dobbin] had done. Mickey was fully behind Matt, Eleanor, and I when we went on as head writers.  She and Wendy [Riche] had met, and Wendy said, “I will do everything I can to implement what you want to do and we will work together happily.”  And we did for a long time.  So I wasn’t affected by it.  Who knows? I don’t.
We Love Soaps: For me there was a change creatively
Claire Labine: I think there is, no question about it.  But why that is, what the cause of that is, I’m hard pressed to speculate. 

Melanie asks: I enjoyed your work on both RYAN’S HOPE and GENERAL HOSPITAL and was wondering if you'd ever return to GENERAL HOSPITAL as head writer if ABC asked you. The show is in desperate need of a fresh vision and I think you would bring back some heart to the show. What do you think?
Claire Labine: It would all depend.  I love writing daytime, and I love writing serial.  I’m beginning to learn how to do it.  It’s a shame to not be doing something I love doing.  I would consider anything.  In direct contrast to what I said earlier, I would consider doing it.  But I don’t know if it would happen.  One, the offer won’t be made.  And if it was, I’m not sure we could implement it.  But we could talk about it!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here as Claire Labine answers YOUR questions about ONE LIFE TO LIVE next!

Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is blogging about surviving the holidays at


  1. I didn't think I could possibly love Helen Gallagher any more than I already did, but the fact that she told the then-network owners off? Is utterly fabulous.

  2. That was my question about Disney. I believe Disney took over ABC toward the end of 1995, and she left GH in early 1996, so yeah, I would imagine that Disney didn't really have much of an impact during her time there. I just remember recently watching an episode of OLTL on YouTube from around that time, when Viki was starting to remember her father molesting her and that one of the alters had killed him, and then during the closing credits there was a voiceover: "Is this the end for Stone? Stay tuned for GH, next." Which of course was Ms. Labine's last, great GH tale. And I know that was around the time that Lorraine Broderick and Felicia Minei Behr were getting praised for bringing AMC back to its socially relevant roots, as well. I was just struck by what a powerful, groundbreaking daytime lineup that was, but shortly thereafter all three shows deteriorated into nonsensical soap opera cliches. Then of course Ms. Labine returned to the industry a year or two later, at OLTL. And I must say I still enjoyed watching her material for the beautiful dialog and the well-rounded characters and sense of community and reality, but clearly something had changed because we were not seeing a longterm, singular storytelling vision being executed on-screen. Disney was the most obviously variable, and I was hoping she would speak to that, but she is probably too nice.