'General Hospital' EP Frank Valentini Talks Toys for Tots & Christmas Cheer for Anna Devane
General Hospital takes a break from its regular itinerary of surgeries and shoot-outs to continue the Christmastime tradition of helping those in need.
For the sixth year in a row, the popular soap opera has partnered with Toys for Tots, a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, which brings toys to children in need each holiday season. In addition to taking part in a real-life toy drive at the Disney Store in Glendale, Calif., the Toys for Tots program is also being incorporated into episodes including GH’s Friday, December 21 show.
Even though shootouts and surgeries tend to take a backseat during Christmastime in Port Charles, there’s still plenty of drama that’s happening. Frank Valentini, executive producer, previews what’s ahead for some of the GH characters including Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) and explains the soap’s involvement with Toys for Tots.
How did General Hospital’s involvement with Toys for Tots come about?
Frank Valentini: This has been something that’s been important to the Disney company for many years. It’s a wonderful thing. We’d worked with Toys for Tots when I was at One Life to Live [as executive producer] and I was excited to continue that tradition here at GH. We’ve taken it a step further and had service men and women come to the lot and pick up all the toys we’ve gathered. It’s always always wonderful to have them here.
And everyone at GH participates by bringing in toys?
Yes. It’s such a great group of people we have here. Everybody wants to be a part of it so that’s terrific.
What kind of toys have you seen coming in for the Toys for Tots program?
People bring in what they loved having as a kid. They’ll bring in whatever the 2018 version of that is. I’ve always donated the things I loved having as a little boy. Somebody brought in a little archery kit. I thought they must love archery. I’m a big board game person. I love puzzles, so I’ve always enjoyed bringing in those kinds of toys.
Viewers love watching high stakes drama, but at the holidays, fans, I think, enjoy seeing the characters put the commotion on hold just a little bit. They want to see characters enjoying the holidays, too.
You’re absolutely right. As much as we all love some good drama, it’s important to take time to celebrate the holidays and families. We take advantage of that at this time of year. It’s nice to take a little bit of a break and be thankful and appreciate things and share your love with your family. It’s important to reflect on that on the show because that’s what happens in real life.
Dr. Steve Hardy (the late John Beradino) and Dr. Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) have read the Christmas prayer or dressed up as Santa. More recently, we saw Dr. Obrecht (Kathleen Gatti) portray Krampus, the mythical anti-Santa. What’s up for this year?
The person [playing Santa] this year is a character known and loved to all GH viewers, but there’s a little bit of twist as to who it will be so it’ll be fun.
There’s usually a preponderance of children who are in the hospital each year so the Christmas prayer reading is well-attended.
In looking for extras this year, we reached a little further. Lisa Booth, our casting assistant, contacted city arts programs for kids and we created an opportunity for them. It was her idea for them to see what we do here and enrich their school experience.
Cameron (William Lipton) is set to get some coal in his stocking after making those special brownies for Oscar (Garren Stitt)!
Cameron is someone who doesn’t always think first. He leads with his heart and his brain catches up with him later after he gets into trouble.
Is Anna set to have a happy holiday?
Anna’s at a point in her life where she’s at odds with her son (Peter, played by Wes Ramsey) and her daughter (Robin, Kimberly McCullough) lives far away. She’s missing her family. She’s in a new relationship [with Finn, played by Michael Easton]. What does that mean for her and how does that piece together the family she has in Port Charles?
General Hospital, Check local listings, ABC