On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Steve Burton (Jason Morgan) over the weekend at the General Hospital Fan Club Weekend main event to get the soap superstars thoughts on all the changes in the daytime landscape including those major moves at GH! The Daytime Emmy winner and fan favorite gives us his insight into the recent writing change at the top, which saw longtime GH head writer, Bob Guza being let-go and replaced by another long time member of the GH team, Garin Wolf. (Of note to fans: today was the first episode of GH featuring Garin Wolf’s new scripts!)
In addition, now that on-screen Jason has proposed to his gal Sam, what is in store for JaSam and their fans? Steve gives us a preview! And, we look at the state of daytime and get Burton’s take on moving soaps online and what the future may hold for ABC’s soon-to-be stand alone daytime soap opera! Check out Burton’s comments below!
How do you like the scripts you are getting under new head writer, Garin Wolf? What differences do you see from Bob Guza’s?
STEVE: There are a lot more words and five page scenes now! It is a lot different than Bob Guza. His scripts are much quicker and more event driven. Garin kind of takes his time and lets things settle. They both have very different writing styles. Garin is incorporating a lot of different characters on the show. I had a scene with Monica which was great!
Were you concerned with how this writing change could affect your character, Jason Morgan?
STEVE: Nobody besides Bob Guza and Garin could pretty much write me. GH has a pretty tough time when writers would come in and write for Jason. They had a lot of spec scripts with test writers, who did not get it. But Garin gets it. He has been here forever and he is a very smart guy.
Let’s talk about those proposal scenes between Jason and Sam! Were those hard to play? Many times the build-up and payoff for an on-screen couple like this (who many JaSam fans have been rooting for such a long time) can have some built in pressure to make sure it plays out right on screen. Did you feel any of that with those scenes?
STEVE: You have an idea in your head and there is the reality that sets in because of it. Then as an actor you think, “Well, how should this proposal really be? Or, how will the fans think it should be really be?” As long as it’s real and honest, it works. We, as actors, never really plan things with emotional stuff, it just comes. Kelly Monaco (Sam) and I have been working together for so long that when we do these scenes together, it just works and it just happens.
What do you think will be the next hurdle for Jason and Sam? What will cause problems for them? We know Franco is headed back, but before then?
STEVE: The first thing I think of is the baby hurdle, and are Jason and Sam going to have one, and can they have one. Then there is always the Zacharras around and the outside danger of that. But a lot of the upcoming stuff is more about the relationship.
Have you, or would you, ever go to Garin Wolf and tell him what you would like to do with Jason, or suggest story?
STEVE: Garin came to the set for the first time in 100 years! (Laughs) It was a big deal for him to come to the set and he does not live in Los Angeles. He said, “You know what is going on?” I said, “Nope.” He then followed up with, “Do you want to know what is going on?” I said, “Nope. Garin how I work is I see my script the night before and that is how I work.” And he said, “Great!” Look, I want them to push me and challenge me and usually when things are uncomfortable they are good. I have been in my comfort zone along time now. Sometimes you have to push out of the box and you can develop other sides of the character. I think that is how he thinks.
Do you think the ramifications of Jake’s death will be dropped as part of Jason’s story now that Garin is in charge, especially since it was Guza’s big story?
STEVE: Garin does not seem like the guy who will just drop it. He writes very emotionally, so I don’t think that will be an issue.
What do you think of the new online venture of Prospect Park now that they have rights to put One Life to Live and All My Children online? What do you think can be done to make this work for all parties involved? There is a lot to consider here: advertising dollars, subscription or pay-per-views, salaries and contracts of performers, creative team and crews… and that is to name just a few of the issues. (Laughs)
STEVE: Doing a lot of businesses myself, I can see this working if they have a lot of deep pockets, and apparently they do. It is very technical with advertising on websites as you know, and paid memberships. They certainly are going to have to change the model financially, because unless they can generate enough money, which I don’t know if they can off the bat, it could prove difficult. But what is interesting is the way facebook is set up. You go on facebook and it’s your “likes”. I go on facebook and it’s my “likes”. Well if everyone who is watching our show on the Internet could pop up ads for their “likes”, then that is more ads to be viewed. That way, you are not doing a general ad for 500,000 people. You are doing interest group advertising. I think that is one way to do it.
Do you foresee General Hospital ending up online like the other two canceled ABC soaps? Is that the shows future? Or, do you think it can endure on network television?
STEVE: I can tell you GH is going to be fine, and it would not surprise me if GH ended up online. But, I believe we are going to garner the ratings to stay on network television. I have never been a ratings person and paid that much attention to them. Every show goes through its ups and downs. Not many shows have a straight line all year long with their numbers. You are going to have your stories and peaks. But I think we have some great story coming up and bringing in some old school GHers, which we need back, and some new blood, will mix things up. I feel we are in a good place in this climate and that is a good feeling to have. Several months or so ago it was doom and gloom when AMC and OLTL were canceled and people were saying there was no hope for the soaps. Look, I am not a negative person anyway. I am a realistic person, but I think that we can turn it around and if we have to go like Days of our Lives does, where we have to get renewed every 18 months or so, then that is what we will do. That is how it works for most shows in this business anyway. We have just been spoiled for 60 years! (Laughs)