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Has cancellation threat passed for ‘General Hospital?’

GENERAL HOSPITAL - Anthony Geary  ('Luke Spencer ') ABC Daytime's  'GENERAL HOSPITAL' airing  (3-4:00 p.m.ET) ABC TelevisiNetwork.

GENERAL HOSPITAL - Anthony Geary ("Luke Spencer ") in ABC Daytime's "GENERAL HOSPITAL" airing (3-4:00 p.m.,ET) on the ABC Television Network. GH10 (ABC/Craig Sjodin) ANTHONY GEARY

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Updated: October 10, 2012 6:05AM

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Soap actors know the score. They know their genre of daytime programming is in decline.

So when “General Hospital” star Anthony Geary won his seventh Daytime Emmy in June, his emotional, dark-humor-tinged acceptance wasn’t just about getting more kudos from industry peers.

“We’d been living on Death Row,” he later told reporters. “And so I think we were all pretty thrilled and excited and a bit emotional about being acknowledged for the hard work.”

“General Hospital” fans have been on edge since ABC canceled “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” replacing them with less-expensive talk shows “The Chew” and “The Revolution.” With the prospect of Katie Couric’s new fall talk show, “Katie,” there were fears that “General Hospital” would be the next soap to fall.

Instead, “The Revolution” was short-lived and Couric has been, perhaps strategically, vocal in her support of daytime dramas.

“I think obviously soap operas have a huge and very loyal following,” she said. “If you have any question about that, you should just follow me on Twitter and you can hear from a lot of those folks. And, obviously, I think they fill a need for a lot of people, and so I think they can peacefully coexist with a lot of the other offerings on daytime television.”

When Couric’s talk show begins Monday, it will air at 3 p.m. on WLS-Channel 7 and “General Hospital” will move to 1 p.m. weekdays. The soap’s executive producer, Frank Valentini, said the time-slot change will be good for the show.

“It will shake up the lineup a little bit, and I like the way that we’re being positioned with the other shows that are surrounding us,” he said. “The network is doing a big push to inform the audience about the time change, and, yes, we are doing a big umbrella story and have a lot of really fun surprises, a lot of terrific stuff coming on in September.”

Valentini joined “GH” in January after a stint at “One Life to Live.” Geary credited Valentini with coming over “to shore us all up.”

“Not rebuilding, but maybe remodeling,” Valentini said. “Being an outsider, I think it’s sometimes easier to come in and see what maybe you are not used to seeing when you are there. I think the show was in terrific shape, but there needed to be some tweaks. And I think it’s much more my taste, my sensibility, for the show to go just a little bit faster, but I thought there were some key characters missing, not in terms of who they were, but certain archetypes that were really important to bring on the show.

“And bringing on some of the people from ‘One Life to Live’ was a little bit of a way to honor the ‘One Life to Live’ audience and also to create a story that was good for the current cast, and people who would interact with the current cast.”

The migration of several “OLTL” characters to “GH” may be a sore spot among some “GH” fans, but transplanted actor Michael Easton said the reception has been generally positive.

“The ‘General Hospital’ audience has been very kind to let us in for the most part and be accepting,” he said. “There’s a little bit of a synchronicity with all of the other fans of the soap operas; they understand there’s some broken hearts out there. If it worked the other way, we would love having them.”

Scripps Howard News Service

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