In December, soapcentral.com reported on a hush-hush plot that General Hospital was devising for its February Sweeps storyline. The storyline was to feature a "new storytelling technique" that would be a first in daytime television. Well, soap fans, FebruarySweeps starts next week -- and on GH, Sweeps will get off to an explosive start.
Borrowing a page from FOX's 24, General Hospital's entire February Sweeps will be told in a real-time format. Unlike 24, which takes place in 24 hours, GH will tell its story in 16 hour-long episodes -- one for every weekday in Sweeps plus the episode that kicks off the story on January 26th.
"This story is an exciting, emotional roller-coaster told like never before in daytime history," said Brian Frons, president, Daytime, Disney-ABC Television Group.
"This is a very exciting time for General Hospital, as we are continually looking for ways to raise the bar in how we produce a daily drama," added executive producer Jill Farren Phelps. "This is an interesting and captivating way to tell a story that will expertly intertwine all of the show's characters together."
So what exactly is going on in Port Charles to warrant such an innovative -- even if the idea has been borrowed -- storyline?
Each subsequent episode will be told in "real time," with each new episode marking a new hour in the 16-hour ordeal.
During the storyline, Stephen A. Smith, a sports columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and an ESPN personality, will appear as a reporter covering the hostage situation at the Metro Court. Smith is a self-professed GH fan since the age of 5.
"It was a wonderful experience all-around," Smith beams. "Meeting many of the actors on the show - including Steve Burton (Jason) and Greg Vaughan (Lucky) - was very exciting and a dream come true. Let this be a lesson to all the ladies out there: There are men who love the soaps."
Travelers may want to avoid booking hotels in Port Charles in February. In February 2004, the Port Charles Hotel was the scene of a dramatic fire that completely destroyed the hotel. Ironically, Shriner last appeared in scenes following the inferno. The trouble, of course, is no coincidence. February (along with May, August and November) are four-week periods in which soaps put on their best storylines in order to attract viewers and boost their ratings. These ratings are then used to determine advertising rates in the two months that follow. These periods are known as "Sweeps."