It's a decision that will not sit well with General Hospital fans: Emmy winner and daytime icon Genie Francis (Laura Collins) is out at General Hospital.
Show sources tell Soap Central that Francis was informed in late 2017 that she would be dropped to recurring status in 2018 -- and that executive producer Frank Valentini wanted Francis to appear in only about a dozen or so episodes. Francis was said to be devastated by the decision and reportedly refused to agree to appear so infrequently.
If Francis was blindsided by the decision, the show's writers were surprised, as well. The writing team had planned a long-term storyline with Laura running for mayor of Port Charles. That storyline had to be abruptly altered when the decision was made to drop Francis from contract status.
There are several rumors making the Internet rounds about exactly why the show felt that Francis needed to be demoted, but Soap Central has not yet been able to independently confirm any of those rumors.
Francis has played the role of Laura off and on since 1977. Most soap fans know that Luke and Laura's 1981 wedding was the most-watched episode in soap opera history. A whopping 30 million people tuned in to see the "I do's." She eventually exited the show in 1982 before returning full-time in 1993. In 2002, Francis exited the show after contract negotiations went sour. Francis returned to the show several times over the next decade, returning in 2013 to help celebrate General Hospital's 50th anniversary. In 2015, Francis returned as part of Anthony Geary's exit storyline, but Francis ended up sticking around and signed a long-term contract with the ABC soap.
In addition to her well-known role on General Hospital, Francis has also appeared on All My Children, Days of our Lives, Loving, and The Young and the Restless. It will come as no surprise that DAYS and Y&R fans have already taken to social media to urge their shows to snatch up Francis. Likewise, GH viewers have posted petitions on various social media sites with the hashtag #GenieisGH asking for Francis to be rehired.
@carlivatiron GH has let Genie go (again) - you should grab her and bring Diana Colville back ASAP.— SUCHAGOODDOG (@prettytheseries) January 20, 2018
It's a damn shame #GH has - once again - failed to recognize the talent & popularity of the glorious @GenieFrancis. Mayor Laura taking down mob boss Sonny would have been storytelling gold. Fix this @GeneralHospital and @ABCNetwork! pic.twitter.com/UrNyKUbKp0— Michael Logan (@TVGMLogan) January 20, 2018
ABC has not responded to a requests for comment. We're told, however, that the show is hopeful that Francis will end up appearing again in the future.
Looks like one soap is about to lose two of its stars -- one icon and one eye candy. And there could be more. Fans reaction should be... interesting. pic.twitter.com/C6Eo18Jtid— Dan J Kroll (@DanJKroll) January 16, 2018
UPDATE (January 22 | 6:30pm): Arthur Toretzky, Genie Francis' agent, confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that Francis has been dropped.
"She did not want to leave the show as a series regular," Toretzky stated. "It was not her choice to leave."
To read what Francis had to say in her first public comment following the news of her GH firing, continue reading here.
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