A setside source has informed Soap Central that Tyler Christopher (Nikolas Cassadine) was informed that he was being let go from the show on Friday. The news comes as fans were already questioning whether or not the actor would be exiting the show due to a primetime project. Christopher is the latest high-profile star to be released by the ABC soap, though a show spokesperson was unable to confirm the news.
"Commitment, professionalism and performance doesn't get you anything," Christopher remarked on dismissal from General Hospital, of which he told Soaps In Depth magazine that he "didn't see it coming."
Christopher, then known as Tyler Baker, originated the role of Nikolas in 1996. The actor earned a Daytime Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Younger Actor field in 1998, but opted to exit the show in 1999. After his exit, Christopher made a series of guest-starring gigs in primetime, and he appeared in the film Catfish in Black Bean Sauce.
In April 2003, Christopher returned to General Hospital, taking over the role from his successor Coltin Scott (now-Stephen Martines). In 2005 and 2006, Christopher picked up Daytime Emmy nominations in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category.
Earlier this year, ABC reportedly slashed General Hospital's operating budget by nearly 50%. In order to trim its costs, the soap was expected to drop actors to recurring status -- or let them go entirely. In January, long-time veteran Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth Webber) was fired, but the show reconsidered its decision less than a month later. Though the network would not confirm it, it was widely believed that fan outcry prompted Herbst's un-firing. Sonya Eddy (Epiphany Johnson) was downgraded to recurring status in early March.
Fans were already buzzing about Christopher's possible exit from General Hospital last fall when the actor announced that his 2011 fan event would be his final General Hospital fan gathering.
Hopefully, Christopher will not be unemployed for long. Last month, the ABC Family cable network ordered ten episodes of The Lying Game, a series starring Christopher and As the World Turns alum Alexandra Chando (ex-Maddie Coleman), for the fall season. The Lying Game, which is helmed by former GH and All My Children head writer Charles Pratt, Jr., will debut on August 15, 2011.
Christopher will finish his GH run on May 19.