The guessing game about who will play Nina on "General Hospital" is over. No one guessed right. The Twitter world was ablaze with ideas, from Cady McClain to Gina Tognoni. Some wondered if Nina would be leaving Port Charles. Starting in May, Cynthia Watros will be playing the tell-it-like-it-is a character. Watros had soap stints as Annie Dutton on "Guiding Light" and as Victoria on "Another World." Her resume is packed with prime-time and feature film credits. "General Hospital" tapes about six weeks in advance, but the exact date of her takeover has not been released. Watros replaces Michelle Stafford, who played Phyllis for over four years. She is headed home to "Young and Restless," which she exited four years ago.
What a difference a week and new writers make. Last week, the new (actually old) head writer for "Young and Restless" saw his work aired. When Mal Young was let go, Josh Griffin, who has been writing for "Young and Restless" on and off for almost 20 years, had a lot of work to do. First, he had to wrap up Mal's plots — from the J.T. "murder" to the tattered relationship between father Victor and son Nick. These two will always spar. They never hated each other, which they did for the last year. It turned out that J.T. was not dead; he had a brain tumor that caused him to be abusive to Victoria. That abuse caused Nikki to hit him over the head. She thought she had killed him, but she had not. It was killing the viewers as the story dragged on for over a year.
"Young and Restless" then brought on the Rosales family. Nothing wrong with that, but they sent core characters into off-the-burner storylines. Paul, Michael and Lauren seemed to have moved out of town. So beloved actors were taken off contract. Doug Davidson (Paul) had been with the show almost 40 years, Christian LeBlanc (Michael) about 30 years and Tracey Bregman (Lauren) over 25 years. Each of them won Daytime Emmys for their work on "Young and Restless." One of the things Griffin did was bring back those core characters.
Then he had a tough choice on who to let go. That is never an easy decision. He decided that Jack's insta-girlfriend, Kerry, did not fit in the storyline.
The write-off was brilliant. Ashley came back, and she was evil incarnate. Next to go were Mia and Arturo. The Rosarios siblings are gone.
Griffin knows what the great daytime drama writer Doug Marland knew: When you take over a show, you cannot jar the viewers. You have to turn the show like a prism. For now, those are the only cast cuts. Most likely, more will come.
Coming to the show: a new Adam. Greg Rikaart is returning as Kevin. Michelle Stafford, who was the first actress to play Phyllis, is returning. The actress could not come to terms with "General Hospital," where she spent four years playing Nina. Sadly, Gina Tognoni, who played Phyllis for the past several years, is gone.
Little touches are an important part of a soap. Michael has always been Phyllis' sounding board. When "Young and Restless" came on, they did not even pass each other in a restaurant waiting line. Last week, there was Michael, trying to talk her down from her latest "this will not end well" plot. We hear Jill is returning to Genoa City for a few days.
In the midst of all this, the cast and crew of the show had to deal with the sudden death of Kristoff St. John (Neil). Neil will die suddenly, sending everyone into an emotional tailspin. Even lifelong enemies Victor and Jack will share a drink and a tear over the loss. The next day, the show will offer a tribute to St. John with clips and visits from actors who are no longer on the show. All the tears you will see on both episodes are the real deal.
When Justin Hartley (formerly Adam on "Young and Restless," now Kevin on "This Is Us") decided he and wife Chrishell Stause needed new digs. Last month, they shelled out almost $5 million for a home with everything: It has pools, a movie theatre, sports courts, a guest house. Keeping it in the family, Chrishell, who is an actress (Jordan on "Days of Our Lives" and Amanda on "All My Children") is also a real estate agent. She is part of a reality show that pits agents against agents. Having talked about growing up poor, Chrishell cannot believe the world she is now living in. She was the agent who sealed the deal.
To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.