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35 September 6th, 2012 GH’s Jane Elliot Interview: From The Future Of The Soap, Valentini’s Efforts, Geary & Hughes, To The Q’s!

Courtesy/ABC

She is one of the most respected actresses in the soap genre.  She has made viewers laugh, cry, and at times want to throw something at their TV sets over the antics and schemes of Tracy Quartermaine.  But it’s a mark of a fantastic actress to make us care for this type of soap character, and who exposes to us that underneath all of Tracy Q’s bravado, she is a very vulnerable and complex woman. That actress is Jane Elliot.

Right now on GH, Tracy seems to be the only one not getting sick by the poisonous toxin released in the Port Charles water supply by Jerry Jacks.  What is up with that?  And, what is up with Tracy’s love life?  Are she and Luke (Tony Geary) a couple for all eternity? Or, will Anna (Finola Hughes) come between them for good?

Recently, On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Ms. Elliot for a “quickie” chat to get her thoughts on: the renewed interest from ABC on the now lone ABC soap, the shows latest executive producer Frank Valentini, what she thinks of Anna, or even Heather vying for the love of Luke, and why she and Tony Geary are pure magic on-screen.  Here’s what the incomparable Jane had to say!

GH is moving into its new time slot on September 10th along with a sense of the ABC network firmly behind them.  Did you think a year ago that this iconic soap’s ship may sink?

JANE:  I never believed the ship was going to sink.  I never believed it was going to happen because it would be stupid to wipe out the entire ABC soap opera lineup at the same time. And, NBC still has a show on the air, and CBS still has two shows on the air, and I just never saw it.  I always felt General Hospital would be the last soap standing.

How has executive producer Frank Valentini been to work with? He came into a situation with an edict to save this show, inherited many issues that needed to be tweaked, and is by all accounts doing a phenomenal job!

JANE:  Frank and I have known each other for 18 years.  I observed and shadowed him and two other line producers at One Life to Live, before I went to produce Loving.  I spent a couple of months at One Life to Live; five days a week morning till night shadowing him.  We maintained a friendship all through these years and I adore him.  I adored him then and I adored him the 18 years we communicated.  So for me, it was like coming home.  I know he is incredibly bright and incredibly smart. He has a really broad stroke and he takes in more information in 30 seconds than almost anybody I know.  Frank sees what is going on behind him, next to him, in front of him, as well as having his own inner dialog going on about what is going on, what he wants to fix, and what he wants to change.  I love people like that.  People like that I find energizing. For me, it’s a thrill. I love working with an executive producer who comes in before everybody arrives and leaves after everybody leaves.

Being one of the most beloved veterans of General Hospital, do you feel the show has a good shot at making it past its 50th Anniversary?

JANE:  It’s good business.   It’s a good show. Everyone in the cast is energized and excited about what’s ahead. What could you possibly get to replace it that has such a loyal audience and incredible talent?

Courtesy/ABC

Your pal and on-screen acting partner Tony Geary gave you quite the compliment and acknowledgement during his acceptance speech for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series at this year’s Daytime Emmys. What was your reaction when you heard what he had said? Did you shed a tear?

JANE:  You know what?  I did not know!  They pulled the date of the Daytime Emmy Awards show at the last minute, and we knew that we had two dark weeks at GH, and I had a plane ticket for a vacation.  I was on the top of a mountain on the Anderson Valley and they didn’t have cable television. But I texted someone, “Did Tony win, yet?” And she texted me back, “Not Yet. The show hasn’t even started yet.” And I said, “Just kidding!” And then five minutes later she texted me back, “He just won!” And I go, “You’re lying!” And the reason I said that was because it was at the top of the show and the timing didn’t make any sense! And she goes, “No. No. He just won!  He just thanked you!”   So later on I got to watch his acceptance speech and it was so sweet!

How do you like that Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) is seriously in the mix for Luke’s affections? And Heather (Robin Mattson) was for awhile too!

Courtesy/E!

JANE: Anytime I get to work with Robin Mattson and Finola Hughes I am thrilled. I love these women. We all have such a long history with each other. Robin and I started on General Hospital together back in the 70’s and Finola in the 80’s.  Finola and I both have personal things we share. We both have biological children and adoptive children. At one point, we talked about writing a book together on the subject and the difference, but there is none.  It’s everything we have lived life off-camera together informs what we do on camera. And you know what? The truth is …  it is a child’s game grown up. It’s called “Let’s Pretend”. And the better you are at pretending, the better the work is. We call it “the work” now, because we are grown-up and getting paid for it.  But it is just “Let’s Pretend”, and they are fabulous at playing that game. And, I would play with them over anybody!

Why do you think it works so well on-screen with you and Tony Geary?

JANE:  Again, it’s that trust at being best friends. There is no pretense about it. We both know it’s a game, but we are grown-ups and the trust that we have with each other comes from the fact that we have the same sensibility of what the work is.  We never take ourselves too seriously. And we are always grateful and consider ourselves blessed that we are like minded. You know, you get a lot of acting partners and everybody works differently, and everybody has a lot of different sensibilities and attitudes and focus about what they are doing.  Tony and I have the same. We are grateful we get to do this, but we also both live another life. He has another life. I have another life. And this is just part of our life and we give it our all when we are there, and then we leave it behind.

Courtesy/ABC

Do you miss having all the Quartermaines around?

JANE:  I do, I do. But thank God, I have Robin and Finola!

And speaking of the Quartermaines, look for the return of Edward Quartermaine played by John Ingle who has been away from the General Hospital due to illness, next week in a poignant scene which involves Emma and Patrick … and Tracy!  In the latest issue of Soap Opera Digest, Frank Valentini teases, “I’m excited for the audience to see Edward.  I love John and everybody here loves John. He is sort of the godfather of the whole show. He has this really amazing scene with Tracy, Patrick and Emma.  I challenge anybody to not cry during those scenes because we sure did. Wait until you see it. I am not exaggerating.  We we’re crying on set.  I had to catch my breath and yell, ‘Cut’.  It’s huge.”

So soapers, what do you think of Jane’s comments on the future of GH, working with Tony Geary, Finola Hughes, and Robin Mattson? And, what do you think the emotional scene will be about next week involving Tracy and Edward?  Weigh-in!

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  1. toscanti says:

    LOVE IT!!!!!!

    Reply

  2. ILTQ says:

    I love that they have been using Jane so much currently. She has been wasted for far to long. I hope this marks a Tracy Q resurgence!!! Jane Elliot is THE BEST!

    Reply

  3. Cath says:

    I cannot wait to see that Patrick, Emma, Tracy & Edward scene. Sounds amazing. These people have Robin in common so I’m guessing it will be about Robin. I remember that John Ingle had to take his leave not long after they started taping the aftermath of Robin’s death so we weren’t able to see Edward at the funeral. I’m guessing he’ll finally get to say his piece directly to Patrick & Robin. Anyway, back on topic, I love Jane Elliot. Her work has been one of GH’s few consistent bright lights over the years. And I love how Tracy’s airtime is intersecting with more characters these days. Finola Hughes, Tony Geary & Robin Mattson are a good start and then this week, she got to meet & snark back at Todd Manning. LOL FV & RC’s GH is amazing for jumping on these storyline opportunities alone.

    Reply

    Cathy replied

    I hope it is about Robin since it would be a rich nod to GH history. Always felt Robin should have been talked about to Emma. GH missed so many opportunities. Edward, Lila and Alan connect to Robin.

    Love Jane and loved the interview Kimberly McCullough did with her before she left GH. You can see Kimberly loved and admired Jane from the interview.

    Tracy deserves better than Luke. Love her and Joe. Anna would never forgive Luke for what he did with Robert/Ethan. Anna belongs with Robert.

    Reply

    Jamie replied

    Better than Luke but you’re cool with Joe? Yeah he’s a great guy.

  4. shan says:

    Always love watching Jane Elliot, She is one of the very best and I love every scene she is in.

    Reply

  5. Patrick says:

    Tracy and Anna… are giving us Long-Term Fans…”Romance” – what a Treat!

    Vulnerable. OK… as only these two woman can give. Men have to think… LOL.

    Tracy and Joe, Jr. – they consummated rather quickly… twice, i might add. I teared up when Joe.. gave Tracy the antidote.

    Anna and Luke… Luke fessed up to Anna… just before she finds Duke. I can’t find the right words to describe how entranced I am with Finola Hughes portrayal of Anna. Geez! Mother to Robin… and fully embodying… womanhood with Luke… ala.. still police commissioner’ing… A mother in search of her beloved Robin. How beautiful.

    It’s a treat to see two women.. Tracy and Anna.. in their – 40′s – 50′s embracing love and romance…

    Men know these women tick… are a treat… are viable beings… ooh la la… ! We’re cheering you on and rooting for you… as always.

    Reply

    dg replied

    I am a 42 yr viewer of GH and while I have no problem with older women having romance I dont support the Tracy/Luke or Luke/Anna pairing. Tracy and Luke are great comic relief but romantically they are as dull as watching paint dry.
    As far as Luke and Anna go, I can’t stomach it. TG looks great for a man in his 60s and still fairly youthful but he just looks too old in my opinion for Finola Huges. Finola has aged remarkably well as would be much better suited with a younger man perhaps in his mid to late 40s or early 50s.
    And besides that there is no story line romantic history between luke and Anna. Anna was devoted to Robert and Duke. Luke’s only true love will always be Laura. But since Genie Francis is not on the scene I think Luke should play the field and gravitate back to his old fornicating ways.
    There are several out of work soap actors in their 50s who would make suitable love interests for Jane Elliot ( Richard Steinmetz, Scull Jr doesnt cut it). The trouble is that they need a good story .
    As for Anna I wouldnt mind a Anna McBain fling or a revisitation of the Robert, Anna Duke triangle from the late 80s. I also wouldnt mind an Anna, McBain, Sam triangle. Id like to see Sam stop playing the whiny so called hero and go back to being a down and dirty man eater. That would be much more interesting to watch that to see her drowning Jason in glycerine everyday.

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    Margie replied

    Cray cray.

    BOnnie replied

    50′s-60′s! They are both fantastic actors, always loved Janes, wit, loving scenes with Daddy, and her evil side. Plus she is so funny!! Where is her Emmy?

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  6. ethel says:

    if emma & patrick is involved then it has to be about robin – edward adored robin!

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    dg replied

    Kimberly McCollough ( Robin ) has not returned to the show full time. Her appearances will spasmodic and limited because she is pursuing a new career as a director.

    Reply

    ethel replied

    yes i know that – i am saying that the emotional scene with edward/patrick/emma will probably be about edward talking about robin because he adored her so much…..i was not implying robin would be in the scene

  7. rebecca says:

    found her to be a bit impersonal and pragmatic with too much emphasis on the “business.” as a soap fan it’s nice to feel that the actor has a bit of an emotional attachment to the character he/she plays and to the show itself. got the feeling that she loves playing “pretend” and gettng paid for it…but there’s no emotional investment…just a job. found her take on it, though understandable and realistic, disappointing. if she has no emotional attachment to Tracy or her Quartermaine family…how silly is it for we, the fans, to have one?

    Reply

    dg replied

    I think fans loose sight that this is a business for the actors. Jane has been in daytime for decades and she has played many characters besides Tracy. Acting is a job just like any other. If actors took every character home with them they would go crazy.
    I dont think the fault lies with the actors but with the fans who immerse themselves in the fictional world but unfortunately seldom take the time to learn much about the actors and the business end of TV.
    I loved the Tracy character in the 70s and 80s ( I think she’s been dumbed down today like most of the show). But conversely Ive been reading about soap actors since the age of 7 when I begged my mom to buy my first Rona Barrett’s daytimers’s soap mag back in the 70s. I’ve always made valiant effort to learn about the actor’s real lives, research their careers and learn about the business end of TV since it has always interested me.
    So I think its unfair to expect the actors to be so caught up in the characters. This is their job its not just entertainment as it is to viewers. Tony Geary has also been one who comes off as extremely professional and fiercely private. When ever I have seen him interviews or read about him he never comes off like Luke Spencer. Quite the contrary his off screen persona is radically different. And one can tell that he’s not too crazy about over zealous fans that may have difficulty distinguishing him from Luke . He even has warned fans never to bug him if they seem him out eating dinner, lol.

    Reply

    kay/kay replied

    Well dg Tony Geary would not have to worry about me bugging him do not get caught up in that they are a character on the show. When I lived in LasVegas for 14 years I saw Andre Agassi every week at Starbucks and the grocery store we lived in the same area never stopped and said oh my goodness I agree they put their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. lol! I like Jane Elliott and Tony Geary’s humor but no she Tracy is not the love of his life that will always be Laura.

    rebecca replied

    I have not lost sight that it is a business. Actually, I’m in publishing and have friends who have appeared in soaps as well. However, when watching a film, television show, etc…the only way to truly enjoy it is the ability to suspend your disbelief. The same with reading a book…the viewer, reader, etc gets lost in the fictional town/character…and it is that ability to travel in one’s mind to a “make-believe world” that allows us to immerse ourselves.

    I do think that when one takes on a role, whether it be on a TV show/soap and/or film…there probably is some attachment to one’s own character, especially after playing it for so long. I don’t need a business course from an actor. When I’m reading about him/her I want some insight into the actor himself…as well as his take on his/her role.

    For instance, Michael asked: How do you like that Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) is seriously in the mix for Luke’s affections? And Heather (Robin Mattson) was for awhile too!…Jane’s answer was how she enjoyed working with Finola and Heather….not what she thought of the direction her stoyrline was going.

    I don’t need to know she has a “real life.” I would assume/hope so. But during an interview about the soap she’s in…I personallyo would have enjoyed hearing her speak about her character, her eveolution, perhaps that she missed her soap family, the Quartermaines…another question she gloosed over.

    So, for me…her almost detachment came across as all business…no play.

    giovanni replied

    but acting is “pretending”, it is playing. as our voice teacher at drama school used to say, if you genuinely believe you are the character you’re playing, it’s not a stage costume you should be wearing, but a strait jacket

    acting is the best job in the world, but let’s not act as if it’s something mystical.

    SZima replied

    What article were you reading? After playing a role for over 30 years, of course she has an emotional attachment to her role.

    But it IS a business too, and I’m sure all the actors feel that way. Otherwise why would they quit their jobs if their salary negotiations didn’t go the way they want?

    Reply

    Mitch replied

    If you read any of Jane’s interviews since she was first on GH they are always about business. Rarely, does she get “emotional’ in an interview. Jane treats GH just like we treat our jobs. Jane used to not socialize with the cast off set. I was shocked to see a tweet from Robin Mattson saying she was having Jane and Nancy Lee Grahn over for lunch!

    Reply

  8. aria says:

    I think she spot on, GH is an iconic show and it would be stupid of ABC to let it go. She’s one of the great talent of this industry and i love seeing her interact with everyone, because she always knocks it out of the park..

    Reply

  9. Jen says:

    I love Jane, and Tracy is awesome. I hope ABC keeps GH longer than its 50th. :-)

    Reply

  10. dg says:

    John Ingle the godfather of GH? Give me a break Jane. The godfather of GH is Maurice Bernard. Like most of the Q family and the other older vets like Leslie Charleson John has been pushed to the geriatric back burner while Bernard, Monaco, Burton and Wright eat the show.
    As far as GH’s future, If Jane and the rest are willing to trust Disney I think they need to thing again. Jane is a great actress but her character has seen better days and much better stories.
    Rather than disguising her as a romantic lead. Id much rather see her in a strong business story. Id also much rather see her inter acting with Leslie Charleson and John Ingle. The Luke, Tracy, Anna triangle is ridiculous and a total snore.
    Tracy Quartermaine was originally written as “the house bitch” as Frank Maxwell ( ex Dan Rooney coined the term way back in the late 70s). She has been excellent as a spoiled, greedy, power mad dysfunctional daughter of a billionaire business man. She also excelled as Monica’s blackmailer and tormentor. But under Guza and Cartini her character has been watered down to comic relief with Tony Geary. I want Tracy’s edge restored and I want her out of that whole Luke/Anna mess.
    Jane deserves a strong business, family centered story with a suitable leading man. Im sry but neither Tony Geary or Richard Steinmetz ( Scully Jr) fit the bill.

    Reply

    MK replied

    ITA on the most part, that Tracy needs to go back to being the spoiled Bitch. I think Tony/Luke mellowed her too much and for 9 yrs (the longest she has been with the show at any given time.) Her stories have been not very memorable. She needs to go back being the female Todd Manning.

    The Best spark has been with Joe, Jr. (He is like Paul Hornsby and Mitch Williams) I don’t believe he is a Rapist/Murderer. (I think he and Connie (the alter) hooked up and Kate thinks it was rape) For the murder, I think it was an accident or someone else did it. Joey truly has a heart. He isn’t as dangerous as Joe, Sr.

    Reply

  11. heidi says:

    Love Jane and Tracy! Great interview! Can’t wait for the scene with Tracy, Edward, Patrick and sweet Emma! Love GH and hope it stays around for many years! They have the best cast!

    Reply

  12. Ces says:

    I’ve been a fan of Jane’s forever. Love her!! Hoping to see more of her in the coming months. She has great chemistry with everyone on the show but I just love her scenes with Tony Geary the most! Too bad Stuart Damon wasn’t still on the show though; they always worked great together.

    Reply

  13. Iakovos says:

    Jane Elliot is awesome and vital to GH and Port Charles. She brings class to every scene and story, and is so watchable. As an actor, she IS Tracy Quartermaine. I am never sure why she is not included as much in discussions of iconic daytime actresses as an Eileen Fulton, Erika Slezak, and Susan Lucci, and the like. She has been a constant presence, a highly regarded player, and created a character so multifaceted and interesting. BRAVA!

    Reply

  14. Robert in Jersey City says:

    I fell in love when she withheld Edward’s meds in 1978/79 (ish).

    Reply

  15. Mitch says:

    Not to be nit -picky, but….Jane Elliot did not work with Robin Mattson on GH in the 70′s. The role of Heather was played by Mary O’Brien then. Robin Mattson played Heather from November 1980-November 1983. Tracy (Jane Elliot) left Port Charles prior to November 1980. However, Robin and Jane did work together as Heather and Tracy on GH from June-December 2004…Just saying..:)

    Reply

  16. Gloria E says:

    You are wonderful Jane, Tony & Finola & Joe Jr.!!! Frank & Ron too!! thank you for not forgetting that older romance exists & is usually more complex than teeny boppers..thank u…& much more interesting too…

    Reply

  17. PAUL WILLIAMS says:

    It’ll be great to see John Ingle back as Edward, he has so been missed, but I’m glad to see Jane Eliot still hanging in there. Nobody, and I DO mean, nobody can play bitchy ol’ Tracy like she can! Speaking of the Q’s, any possiblity of Leslie Charleson coming back as Monica? She’s just as missed, and we need to have all of the few remaining Quatermaines back again!

    Reply

  18. Jen says:

    I love Tracy Quartermaine and love that Jane Elliot is getting screen time with story lines that the previous regime would have never given her! She’s a class act and true talent.

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  19. Bethy says:

    Jane Elliot always comes across as highly intelligent, warm, personable and a class act. When it comes to the character of Tracy, she brings it each and every day. Love her!

    Reply

  20. Donna says:

    I love Jane. What a Pro!! With women like her and Finola Hughs and Robin Matson they can keep this show going for another 50 years. Congrats to Frank Valentini for being able to reunite all of these veterens on one show. And that includes the actors from “OLTL: as well.
    And now Ian Bucanhan too?! How much better can it get?!!!

    Reply

  21. nancy dillingham says:

    Like Finola, Jane is a pro–and very down to earth–and frankly spoken. She makes a lot of sense. However, I agree with the poster who says that her character has been dumbed down. The one blind spot seems to be her–as well as Tony–thinking the audience will accept that they love each other.
    I’m sure she well remembers the brilliant sparring between the two characters when they would run into each other at the hospital. She called him “something that got stuck to the bottom of her shoe.” She knew him well. He knew her well. They called it like it was–and that the relationship they should have maintained over the years. Her mooning and pining for Luke is painful to watch when I remember who they were to each other over the years. She was wayyyy too savvy to know that she could compete with Laura in any real way for Luke’s affections. Luke has one woman who consumes him–Laura.
    Don’t know why Tony Geary has resisted this obvious chemistry–BUT he is warming to Luke and Laura again–and the fans–most especially me are grateful. That’s the real story all these years. Genie Francis shows so much of this in her eyes and voice and touches–and Tony is warming to it again. Hallelujah!

    Reply

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