One of the men who was credited with saving General Hospital from the brink of cancellation in 2012 has been let go. Head writer Ron Carlivati's three-and-a-half year run as head writer of the ABC soap has come to an end.
Head writing duties will be taken over by Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman.
"We are pleased to welcome back two esteemed writers to our General Hospital family," Vicki Dummer, Executive Vice President Current Series Programming, said in a statement. "Shelly and Jean's combined talents and experiences promise to continue the show's legacy of compelling storytelling that will resonate with our impassioned viewers. We're delighted with what they have in store for the show as they continue honoring the rich, diverse environs of Port Charles."
Prior to joining General Hospital as its head writer in 2012, Ron Carlivati worked his way up through the ranks at One Life to Live. Having served in numerous capacities, Carlivati was promoted to the position of co-head writer in February 2007. In June 2007, Carlivati was named sole head writer of the ABC soap. He remained in that capacity through the series' cancellation in January 2012.
"Frank [Valentini] and Ron's creativity, passion and outstanding leadership will be a welcome addition to the cast and crew, as well as viewers and longtime fans," ABC Daytime's then-president Brian Frons said in a statement in December 2010. "As creative leaders in the industry, I am very excited for their arrival to GH and their dedication to the genre will certainly invigorate the daytime drama that has been part of the pop culture and the TV landscape for many years."
Upon taking over at General Hospital, with ABC having canceled both All My Children and One Life to Live, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that General Hospital would also be taken off the air. But replacing the canceled soaps proved problematic and a ratings disaster. A talk show helmed by Katie Couric bumped General Hospital from its longtime timeslot, but Couric's show lasted just two years and General Hospital's ratings remained strong.
GH's 2014 May Sweeps ratings were the show's highest in seven years -- 3.068 million viewers. But last month, the show's ratings dipped to just 2.66 million viewers, and Days of our Lives was on the verge of overtaking GH's third place ranking. Fans have sparred with Carlivati on social media over fan criticism of the show's lopsided use of characters and sometimes far-fetched plot devices. Earlier this month, Anthony Geary (Luke Spencer) blasted the show's writing, noting that he "wasn't thrilled" with Luke's exit story.
"I get scripts where I'm literally told where to take a deep breath and what line to cry on and when to turn my body. Sometimes the writer's stage directions are longer than the scenes themselves," Geary told TV Insider, with deliberate care made not to mention Carlivati by name. "The great playwrights don't do that... If you must write this way, then go write a novel. In a novel, the author tells the readers everything a character is thinking and feeling and doing. But not in theater or film or TV. No, that's just weak writing."
During his tenure with General Hospital, Carlivati won a Writers Guild Award and was nominated for a second award. He and his team of writers received two Daytime Emmy nominations in the Outstanding Writing Team category.
Passanante returned to General Hospital's writing team on June 1 after having served as co-head writer of The Young and the Restless from December 2013 through late 2014. She has also toiled as head writer for All My Children, Another World, As the World Turns, and One Life to Live. She previously served on the General Hospital team in 2013. She's won Daytime Emmy awards as part of the writing team for both ATWT and OLTL.
Shelly Altman also had previous experience with General Hospital. She's been a breakdown writer, an associate head writer, and a co-head writer. She worked previously with Passanante as co-head writer at The Young and the Restless. Altman has two Emmy wins under her belt -- one at Y&R and one as part of Carlivati's writing team at One Life to Live.
Altman and Passanante will start in their new roles on August 10.
On July 27, Ron Carlivati took to Twitter to thank fans. "Thanks to everyone @GeneralHospital for 4 wonderful years. And thanks to the #GH fans for all your love & support. It means the world to me."
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