This week was another jam packed one full of fan favorites exiting and returning! As we inch closer to April 1st, the 50th Anniversary of General Hospital, lots of shake ups behind the scenes have come to the forefront.
Rumors had been rumbling for several weeks that Emmy-winning Julie Marie Berman would be leaving her role as Lulu Spencer, daughter to legendary Luke and Laura Spencer. We’ve now learned that she had taped her final scenes February 26th.
The next morning, she tweeted, “Hi everyone…yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life. It hurts to let go of Lulu. Thank u for letting me into ur homes & hearts. X”
Last July she informed Executive Producer Frank Valentini she was opting not to renew her contract as she wanted to do other projects. She was asked to stick around through General Hospital’s 50th Anniversary, which was the plan.
When the news broke, fans questioned the actress why she was leaving before April 1st. Several claim to have seen a response that it wasn’t her choice to leave before the anniversary, however, I can’t substantiate this as there are no tweets from Julie indicating such a scenario. It’s a great loss if this is the case, especially since the return of the Ice Princess storyline (which involves the villainous Cassadines), when Lulu received a mysterious Valentine (a fake replica of the original Ice Princess). Having the original Lulu would have been amazing since Genie Francis has returned, along with Tyler Christopher and possibly Jonathan Jackson.
Julie’s co-stars took to twitter to show their love for the actress:
Nancy Lee Grahn, “Congrats on being courageous and spreading ur wings. I expect ur flight to be hugely successful. Xo”
Kassie DePaiva, “Good luck on your new adventure. You are a very special talent. Keep climbing!!”
Jen Lilley, “Hey pretty lady, I wish you all the best! You have a bright future, & I know you’ll be missed. So glad I got to work with you!”
Julie’s exit is a huge blow for the Lante Express fan base, which seems to be devastated. I spoke to one Lante fan, Diana Harper, who stated it was a very sad moment for them. Many love Dante and Lulu because of the chemistry between Dominic and Julie.
President of the fan base Theresa Snow tweeted her frustration at learning the news, “Can u explain to us what u guys were thinking by letting @MissJMBerman go b4 the #GH50 Anniversary? That just epic fail there.”
Other fans tweeted their well wishes to the actress:
Terri T-Dawg, “So, once more I say TY! Sending love, best wishes & support THANK YOU 4 7 amazing & unforgettable years, 4 all ur sacrifices, dedication & hard work & 4 special relationship w fans!”
Laurie Worby, “Ooooh now Im crying again! Julie, wishing u best in future projects u will ROCK IT!!#JulieMarieBermanForever”
On March 5 ABC Publicity revealed Marcy Rylan, who played Abby Newman on The Young & the Restless has been cast as the new Lulu Spencer. Rylan was very popular on Y&R as part of the Newman family and has legions of fans.
There are mixed feelings about the recast. Some are thrilled and feel she was a good choice. Others are still mourning the loss of Julie Berman. As a huge Spencers fan, I was not happy as I feel it will take a lot to fill Julie’s shoes; however I am optimistic Rylan can make the role her own. I have faith in Casting Director Mark Teschner that he has made a good choice, especially since the daughter of iconic Luke and Laura has to mesh well with the legends.
Another major exit is Brandon Barash, who plays one of my favorite characters Johnny Zacharra. Brandon showed up on the Port Charles canvas in 2007 and it’s ironic both he and Julie Berman are leaving since it was Lulu who first ran into “Hot Johnny” as fans love to call him. Brandon made the announcement via twitter on March 5:
“With a bittersweet, heavy heart I announce my time at GH has come to an end, as I have chosen to move on& pursue my NBA career. I love u all.”
Fans couldn’t believe it and questioned the news, so March 7 he added:
“To clarify: A) Yes, I’m actually leaving. Don’t be mad at GH, it was my call. Mad respect for @valentinifrank & co 3) Lakers cut me.WTF?!”
As Johnny Zacharra, Brandon delivered amazing performances, and I loved when Nathan Parsons joined the show as Ethan Lovett. Fans called the bromance ‘JET’ and Ethan was Johnny’s “Jiminy Cricket,” always pulling him back from the ledge when he’d want to kill Sonny Corinthos for one reason or another. After Nathan Parsons left, the character crossed many lines that did not fit with how Brandon had played Johnny.
Fans were upset when Johnny slept with Connie Falconeri, knowing she had Dissociative Identity Disorder and Kate Howard wouldn’t have done this. His lowest moment was when he made Connie believe she killed Cole and Hope, Star Manning’s family. Since then over the past year there was a lot of speculation as his storyline kind of petered out and he was clearly getting less airtime. Once the news broke, fans tweeted the actor well wishes:
TWINLADYZ: “It broke my heart when I learn u were really leaving #GH. I want to wish u the best n send my luv n a huge hug ur way. xoxo”
Stephanie: “Wishing Much luck! Good Fortune on all of your future journeys & TY4 sharing your talents with all of us.”
Julie: “Brandon Barash played Johnny w/so much depth & passion. Didn’t even get an Emmy nod for years of amazing, flawless acting. #shameful #GH”
Brandon is very gracious to his fans, and when I met him at GH Fan Club Weekend last year, he laughed when I asked him, “So when is Hot Johnny going to get out of hot water?” He will be at this years’ fan club weekend, doing an event with co-star Bradford Anderson (aka) Damian Spinelli. For tickets: GH Fan Club.
I will miss him greatly. He is so talented that I’m sure it won’t be long until we see him on our screens soon. There has not been a final air date released as of March 9.
Finally, Scott Reeves who took over as Steven Lars Weber in 2009 was let go from General Hospital last month. His final scenes are Monday March 11. Fans were sad to see him go as he had become popular, especially after his pairing with co-star Lisa LoCicero (aka) Olivia Falconeri.
I met Scott at last years’ fan club weekend. He is a ball of energy, such a fun guy who truly loves his fans. He spent a lot of time with those he met and one fan in particular is devastated by his exit. Upon learning of the actors’ firing, super fan Erika Carlisle said, “I am going to miss him so much! I can’t stop crying.”
I was floored when during a chat with Rebecca Herbst, his on-screen sister Elizabeth, Scott jumped on the phone and said hi. That is just the kind of guy he is and I know he is close friends with Becky, so it’s going to be really hard for the entire cast.
It has been so much fun to watch as Steve’s crazy mother Heather Weber returned to Port Charles after he agreed to take responsibility for her. Some might not know that anytime Heather referred to her son, she called him by his full name, Steven Lars.
Fans started a game that every time Heather said “Steven Lars,” we’d take a virtual shot of tequila and break out the BLTs, her favorite sandwich at the local café Kelly’s. Word of the game spread and when I met the amazing Robin Mattson who portrays the character, I told her about it. I was shocked to learn she knew of it! She thought it was hilarious! When asked why Heather always calls her son by his full name, she answered, “That’s his name isn’t it? Steven Lars.”
All of us will miss Scott tremendously and wish him the best of luck. Could he show up on The Young & the Restless again? Interesting his Port Chuck buddy Steve Burton has made the jump to the popular soap. Could more be on their way? It all remains to be seen.
Although General Hospital is losing many of their talented actors, fans will continue to follow wherever they end up. Thanks to Julie, Brandon and Scott for giving us so many years of your time, dedication and talents. You will be missed!