Forget about making three wishes: General Hospital fans just want the Genie! And luckily, they'll be getting exactly what they want later this fall. Wildly popular star Genie Francis (Laura Spencer Collins) is set to make a return to the ABC soap opera and will begin taping her grand return to the show this September.
"I'm headed to Maine for the next month and then, after that, I'm back at General Hospital," the Emmy-winning Francis told TV Insider in an exclusive statement. "I'm looking forward to coming home and I am really excited about this new invigorating storyline they have for Laura — I look forward to the next chapter of this prolific and historic character."
Francis later took to Twitter to share a photo of herself with her newly signed General Hospital contract.
The news, first reported by Daytime Confidential, is sure to come as a huge relief to millions of fans who were stunned and extremely saddened by executive producer Frank Valentini's decision to place the veteran actress on recurring status nearly eight months ago. Reaction from fans was swift, with many taking to social media to blast the decision. Francis, however, also took to social media -- but her message was to defend Valentini.
"No one fought harder to re-establish Laura on @GeneralHospital. He has always been my champion & I don't believe he took any pleasure in seeing Laura diminished," Francis wrote at the time.
This time around, Valentini teased that Francis' return comes with a meaty story.
"I'm really excited for Genie to be rejoining the cast. We have an amazing story for her," Valentini shared.
The last time fans saw Laura, the iconic character had dropped out of the mayoral race to take care of her grandson Spencer (Nicholas Bechtel). Time will tell what brings the new Mrs. Kevin Collins (Jon Lindstrom) back to the canvas, but ABC executive Nathan Varni promised back in March that it would be "damn good."
Following countless messages from disappointed fans, he revealed that the soap was on its way to righting what fans viewed as a major wrong by coming up with a "Laura-centric story."
"What we want is a prolific, big story for Laura that deserves the many talents of Genie Francis," he said. "So our writers are thinking and working on that as we speak. It's my intention that I hope we can continue to have a relationship as Genie obviously is a very important part of GH and the GH family. But you know, we want to be able to service the talents of Genie and we don't want to just have any tiny little story where she kind of blends into the background. We want a Laura-centric story. So we are continuing to work on that and hopefully, that will be on screen sooner than later."
Francis originated the role of Laura in 1977 and has been playing the character on-again, off-again since that time. Most soap fans know that Luke and Laura's 1981 wedding was the most-watched episode in soap opera history, with over 30 million people tuning in to see the grand event. Francis eventually exited the show in 1982 but came back full-time in 1993. She once again exited in 2002, following contract negotiations that went sour. The actress has come back to the show several times since then, returning in 2013 to help celebrate General Hospital's 50th anniversary and again in 2015 for Anthony Geary's (Luke Spencer) exit storyline. She ended up sticking around after Geary's story wrapped and signed a long-term contract with the ABC soap.
This article was updated to include a photo of Francis and her General Hospital contract.
What do you think about Francis' return to GH? What kind of story do you think the writers have penned for Laura? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.