August 8th, 2009  |  Leave a comment

The SOS/Save Our Soaps Interview – General Hospital

card6-022609b.jpgAs our finale to the General Hospital coverage over the past month, On-Air On-Soaps takes a look at the state of the show from the fans perspective. One of the most innovative and consistent fan campaigns mounted in the history of soaps began several months ago, when “GH” fans of the popular couples: Sonny and Kate, Jax and Carly, Jason and Elizabeth and Patrick and Robin banded together to form SOS/Save Our Soap! General Hospital Campaign. These concerned fans are worried by the shows almost constant declining ratings, and what they view as the shows unwillingness to do anything to change that.

I spoke to the leaders of the campaign, Dana L. Meyer and Kecia K. Picard long-time “GH” viewers, and two women who have been working tirelessly to bring awareness to the powers-that-be of what the viewing audience feels is wrong with the show and how it can be put back on track. Each week, the SOS gals put out a press release reflecting the ratings and continue innovative efforts using multi-media to affect their cause. So without further adieu: I bring you Dana and Kecia telling it like it is in their terms!

UPDATED NOTE: Due to the internet fervor since this interview was published, On-Air On-Soaps would like to clarify that it is simply reporting a feature on an interesting item in the soap genre, and to give, in this instance, these SOS leaders an opportunity to express their views and opinions on the state of “GH” and what they hope to accomplish. On-Air On-Soaps is not officially endorsing this campaign by doing a piece on their efforts. We are a neutral ground for all opinions and views. Also, at the time this feature was conducted we were not informed that Scrubs board was no longer an official participant in the efforts of SOS/Save Our Soaps. On-Air On-Soaps understands and it is clear, Scrubs fans are indeed involved in the campaign.

MICHAEL:

How and why did the SOS, Save Our Soaps campaign start?

KECIA:

It was an interesting way it developed. There was no plan or plot… it just sort of evolved.

DANA:

It started out with small campaigns through different fan boards. We met up in chat rooms to discuss what was going on, and it began with small postcard campaigns. So, the Sonny and Kate fans, and the Jason and Liz, and the Patrick and Robin fans all started to realize a lot of our complaints about the show were the same. In other words, we had issues about the historical integrity of the storylines, and if they were character-driven. We began to realize the problems were bigger than just our couples being broken up.

MICHAEL:

How long has each of you watched “GH” faithfully?

DANA:

28 years.

KECIA:

22 years.

MICHAEL:

Two weeks ago, the ratings went up and a hit 2.0, which lately for “GH” was great. Why do you think that happened?

DANA:

Personally, people were interested in seeing the car crash and then, the very next day the show lost 400.000 viewers!

KECIA:

When they went from Tuesday to Wednesday they lost 400,000 viewers. Besides the car crash, Spinelli and Maxie were on Monday and Tuesday. Once those two plots were completed people had seen what they wanted to see. By the way, this was the first time since I believe May that the ratings went up.

Scrubs-Eachother.jpgMICHAEL:

How many fans are you in touch with per day?

KECIA:

We are in touch with a number of people because we also have a page on Face book and we get a lot of people who comment on that page. And we get comments via email and we have gotten comments from TristanRogers.com board saying that they are thrilled about the campaign and how unhappy they were with the show.

DANA:

We even made another postcard late into the postcard campaign. They wanted to see more involvement from the veteran characters as well and wanted us to send something out about those characters.

MICHAEL:

What did you think about Leslie Charleson (Monica) re-signing for a year?

KECIA:

I thought that was great.

DANA:

I did, too.

MICHAEL:

Do you think they will ever give her a major story again?

DANA:

At this point, probably not. When I was a teenager watching the show, I did not watch for the teen stories. I watched for the adult stories and their interaction with the teens. One of my all-time favorite couples was Alan and Monica.

mfDana.jpgMICHAEL:

So interesting you say that. It seems that teenagers don’t watch the soaps necessarily to see teenage storylines. They actually seem to like the adult stories, since it’s a departure from their everyday lives. And on many soaps, those summer storylines seem to bomb.

KECIA:

I agree completely. They tend to rush the stories with the kids, because they want it to be over in the summer. So not only are you not interested in the storyline, you don’t even have time to become invested in the storyline if you were interested in it. My complaint is they rush them.

MICHAEL:

Is there anything you like on “GH” currently?

KECIA:

It is hard to answer that and it’s heartbreaking. I remember a few years ago. I watched every day and tivo’d it because I work. I would watch it when I got home, and then I would watch it on SOAPnet at night. I would watch it twice. And now, I have to force myself to watch it three times a week because I don’t enjoy watching it at all… but it’s my soap!

DANA:

It’s kind of that trap. I don’t want to watch it, but you almost are hopeful!

KECIA:

I feel if I am going to fight to make it better than I need to know what is going on right now.

MICHAEL:

The perception of the fans at many times by people in or out of the soap industry seems to think their intelligence is compromised or they are just “nuts”. When in fact, many are extremely bright and know exactly what is going on! Does that bother you?

KECIA:

I agree. Yes, it does bother me that we are lumped in as a bunch of online crazies. There are maybe a few hundred ‘onliners’ who are immature and don’t know what they are talking about, but that is not everyone.

MICHAEL:

When you are on the message boards are you slamming stars or characters, or do you offer constructive criticism?

KECIA:

I have slammed characters because they deserved it! I don’t slam actors or actresses because they are not the ones who writes the show.

MICHAEL:

Let’s go back to the beginning of the genesis of the campaign. You can take me through from the start to where we are at now in August.

Liason-Saving.jpgKECIA:

It was in mid-March, when we realized we had similar complaints, and we felt we were not being heard. We started doing small campaigns jointly, promoting our couples as well as our small campaigns promoting “GH”. And as that was going on, the idea for Save Our Soaps began. We decided to do a large scale postcard campaign. We had some of the girls who are designers by trade do postcards for us. We had them professionally printed and had them mailed to fans in the US and Canada, who volunteered to mail them to the actors and actresses we were supporting, to the executives at ABC, and the executives at Disney. We wanted to let them know we were all united in our goals to get a better General Hospital. “Give us the “GH” we fell in love with 10, 20 or 30 years ago, that has disappeared from the world.” And in that, we then started doing press releases, because the postcards are great, but we wanted this campaign to continue. We did not want the perception to be, we send postcards and now we are finished. We are serious.

DANA:

In other words, we are in this for the long term. It wasn’t just, postcards were sent in now we are done and we will wait and see. We knew we had a fight on our hands.

MICHAEL:

Has anyone at the show or the network contacted you?

KECIA AND DANA: (in unison)

No.

MICHAEL:

Who are the “GH” brass that you wrote to?

DANA:

Iger, Sweeney, Dolph, Frons, Guza, and now Griffith to name a few. They get a copy of the press release every week faxed directly to them. On our cover sheet all their names are listed, so each of them knows who we sent it to.

MICHAEL:

Tell me the fans groups involved.

CarJax-1Day.jpgDANA:

Scrubs, CarJax, Skate, Liason, and we have had some people from Tristan Rogers board and keep them involved.

KECIA:

It’s interesting we will talk about topics from our group and Tristan will publish something around the same time.

MICHAEL:

If you got the chance to produce the show for the day and put “GH” back on track, what does it need to make you want to watch it?

DANA:

It’s an interesting question and makes one think. It’s a shame they were not going with some things that were working. I mean, let’s face it. There were some writing issues and even before the car crash we commented that the storylines were a wreck In November of 2008 several couples were broken apart and several storylines were going in crazy directions. However, viewers hung in there because they still had hope that it would turn around. They thought, “Maybe they will get our couples back together. Maybe they are just veering temporarily in a different direction for a little while, and there is a neat twist. Then everything will be back on track.” Then in February 2009 that did not happen. It blew apart and all of a sudden nothing made sense. It may sound corny, but maybe we should go back to last November and have Sonny wake up from a bad dream.

MICHAEL:

Every time they seemed to have gotten Jason and Elizabeth close, the power-that-be have changed course. Why do you think that is?

kikiSteve.jpgKECIA:

As a Jason and Elizabeth fan, we ask ourselves that all of the time. We do not want Jason with Sam. Personally, I have not been a fan of Sam since she came on the show. I thought they thought she was a Brenda replacement and she just wasn’t. When Sam has been with Jason she becomes mousy, and she can’t do anything for herself. All she does it talk about how independent she is and how equal she is to Jason, yet she can’t walk up the stairs without falling down.

MICHAEL:

Why do you think they break them up… an underlying agenda?

KECIA:

One, an underlying agenda. Two, someone thinks if they put Elizabeth and Jason together it’s going to end up being a boring story.

MICHAEL:

If you want to save “GH” what would you do? Bring in new actors? Get a new writer? Fire the producer? If you have your druthers…. what would you do first?

KECIA:

If I had my druthers, I would tie up loose ends of storylines that are going on right now, so that they were done. I would get rid of characters I find useless. One of them would be Sam. I don’t see her as having a use on the show anymore. She has come on and done what she was meant to do. She has slept with every one in town, so all she has left to do is sleep with Michael and then she would have slept with all of Sonny’s family. I would get rid of Claudia as well. Sarah Brown (Claudia) is great, but I don’t think there is a purpose for Claudia anymore. She is ruining Sonny. I would tie-down and narrow down the mob and get more to the hospital because the show is called General Hospital. I don’t mind the mob; I just don’t want it to be mob 100% of the time that is not what it was supposed to be. There should be a balance, and a big balance. I would put the couples together that were working.

danaMorgan.jpgDANA:

I agree with her. I would make it less mob centered. I feel it’s all consuming. I have become more of a fan of Jason and Elizabeth over the last couple of years and I really see potential there. I feel so bad for Liason fans that have been fighting for 10 years to get their couple together. I will say in regards to Sonny and Kate, what disturbed me the most was when they brought Olivia in and every three days they kept re-writing some things. Over time it became more like they were playing up Olivia’s importance. The Kate fans were like, “Hey, this Olivia character is starting to take over Kate’s story!” Then it made less sense, when they said Olivia is like a sister to Connie. And now we are finding out that Olivia is supposedly a childhood friend of Sonny’s and Olivia has a big mouth. Why wouldn’t she tell Connie about his being beat as a child? It made no sense, especially if they were as close as sisters and Olivia liked to talk a lot. There are so many holes in the storyline. If I were an Olivia fan, I would be ticked that they keep changing her story. A few weeks ago she did not know what Dante did for living. Now she seems like she is in on it and knows.

MICHAEL:

Was there an actor who won you over, who perhaps when they first came on the air you did not like?

Dana:

At first, I was not sure if I liked Kate with Sonny until the Father’s Day episode in 2007 and there was this undercurrent where I thought, “I think I like them as a couple.” It seemed like between Maurice and Megan there was a connection. I think when Maurice is in scenes with Sarah Brown sometimes it feels like there is a competition going on, like, “Can we zing each other here?” Between Maurice and Megan there was a different connection. They kept each other on their toes, but it didn’t feel like a competition. And if you go back and look at the ratings…the ratings were very high in the episodes that Sonny and Kate were in story together.

MICHAEL:

In your perception, do you really think the powers-that-be are trying to kill the show?

postcard_skate03.jpgDANA:

I think that is what is giving the viewers the question mark. Are they trying to get it cancelled?

KECIA:

That is a question that a lot of fans ask…because a lot of fans have been saying this to up to a year. The numbers are dropping and it’s as if they are wanting “GH” to fail and that is ludicrous. Why would they not make changes?

MICHAEL:

What is the next step for SOS campaign? Do you feel at all frustrated that there is no response from the higher-ups to all your efforts?

KECIA:

I don’t feel frustrated at all and we are getting more notice all the time. We are getting more people finding out about us and wanting to know how they can help.

DANA:

I think more fans want to wait to help. I think the postcards are their way to help and phone calls. We feel like right now with our press releases, and by going week to week and looking at the ratings and the storylines we are making a statement. We are going, “Hey the emperor has no clothes,” and we are more than happy to point it out.

kiki2.jpgKECIA:

Now that I am so disillusioned with General Hospital, As the World Turns is my fall back soap. When I can’t stand “GH”, I go to “ATWT” and “GL”. These CBS soaps were the first time I saw Laura Wright (Carly) and Rick Hearst (Ex-Ric) and it was there that I thought and knew they were great actors.

MICHAEL:

You are launching an official SOS website?

DANA:

Yes. It’s almost done, www.saveoursoapgh.com!

MICHAEL:

I hear there is an official ten remedies from SOS on how to fix “GH”. It’s sort of like David Letterman’s top ten?

DANA:

danaHeadshot.jpgWe do not do this as a list, because on different days people have different feeling about it. So we just list ten in no order. 1) Character driven storylines- I like to point out that the word “line” points out to something that continues and keeps going… something that isn’t dropped. 2) Character development- characters become one dimensional character’s instead of letting them develop and grow. 3) Historical continuity or integrity- that’s a big one to us. It’s like the fans who have watched for many years don’t matter or they are think we are senile because they can’t remember. 4) Respect for their characters- I think of Agnes Nixon and All My Children and the fact that they called it “AMC”. What would you call “GH” right now? 5) Emotional balance- the idea of light and dark and not letting the characters be one-dimensional. If they want something funny, pull out Max and Diane and if they want something dark, well then maybe Sonny, but can we have Sonny light, too? Let the character have more spectrums. 6) Focus on families 7) Enduring couples to root for 8) Less Sleaze 9) Heightened Romance 10) An enjoyable escape.

MICHAEL:

It’s very obvious you care so much about the show or you would not be taking the time to do this.

KECIA:

The reason we are fighting is we are passionate about the “GH” we fell in love with and we want it back.

  1. mas says:

    I am a member of SOS and agree with the whole agenda, these people are trying and that is more then GH has done, and so true Maurice And Megan to me are the Bogie & Bacall of daytime, now they bring in Lisa LoCiero who is just soooo boring and to give her Kate’s s/l began the fall of GH in the ratings, tptb have made a big mistake and do not have the guts to admit it…

    Reply

  2. Darlene January says:

    I think you should do another wiith the founding member of “Protest ABC Across America” Ronda Kennedy.. you can email her at protestabcacrossamerica@gmail.com . This is such a great idea.. Thanks for all you do?

    Reply

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