Thursday night Easton released a statement on Facebook about the situation, saying, in part, “I’ve been informed, that due to some ongoing legal this and that, I cannot be at “General Hospital” after February 8th.” Friday morning, “General Hospital” released a brief statement: “GENERAL HOSPITAL is excited about Michael Easton, Kristen Alderson and Roger Howarth staying on the show and we are exploring ways to allow that to happen.” Daytime Confidential reported that the show was considering having the actors play new characters, leaving Prospect Park with no choice but to recast the roles of Todd, Starr and John if they wanted them to be a part of the show. Soap fans took to message boards and Twitter to voice their discontent with this plan, which seemed destined to alienate fans of both GH and OLTL.
Now Prospect Park has issued its own statement: “Prospect Park understands that ‘General Hospital’ has featured Llanview transplants Michael Easton (John) and Kristen Alderson (Starr) among others while we arranged production of the new version of ‘One Life to Live.’ These characters, who we own under our agreement, are obviously essential to our production efforts, and a large reason we licensed the program. We also understand that legions of ‘General Hospital’ fans have grown to love these actors and characters in a short time. So even though we are paying ABC millions of dollars to license the shows, we have been, and continue to be willing to equally share the characters with ‘General Hospital’ and ABC. It’s a win-win for the actors, the shows and fans, who love all of the shows and storylines. We hope to work out these agreements with ABC and the actors.”
Prospect Park previously had a contract with Easton, who signed on to the company’s ill-fated initial attempt to launch OLTL on-line. It never had a deal with Alderson or Howarth, who was not mentioned in the statement. Further complicating matters, GH tapes in Los Angeles while OLTL will film in Connecticut, making it difficult for the actors to appear on both shows. It is unclear if the three actors have any interest in appearing in the online version of OLTL, or if the production can afford to pay them as much as they make on ABC. OLTL ended with a cliffhanger in which Howarth’s character was arrested for murdering his brother Victor as the audience learned that Victor was alive and well, so Prospect Park’s interest in resolving the storyline is understandable. On the other hand, the characters’ move to GH kept OLTL alive for fans, and may have helped Prospect Park raise the necessary funds to resurrect the show, so it’s odd that the company is taking an antagonistic stance with the network.
Stay tuned for the conclusion to a behind-the-scenes soap opera that may be juicier than anything that ends ip on-screen.