In a stunning late-night development, ABC has opted to make a major change behind the scenes of General Hospital. According to a published report, Jill Farren Phelps is out as executive producer. She will be replaced by One Life to Live's most recent executive producer, Frank Valentini, effective January 9.
Soaps In Depth first reported the news via Twitter, citing a source within Disney/ABC.
"I look forward to this next exciting chapter working with the wonderful cast and crew of GH. This is an incredible opportunity for me to extend my passion and expertise for daytime television as I continue my relationship with Disney/ABC Television Group and become part of an extraordinary team in 2012," Valentini said in a statement.
Valentini will be reuniting with former One Life to Live head writer Ron Carlivati. Carlivati has been named head writer of GH. For more on that change, please click here.
"Frank and Ron's creativity, passion and outstanding leadership will be a welcome addition to the cast and crew, as well as viewers and longtime fans," ABC Daytime president Brian Frons said in the statement. "As creative leaders in the industry, I am very excited for their arrival to GH and their dedication to the genre will certainly invigorate the daytime drama that has been part of the pop culture and the TV landscape for many years."
Phelps assumed the executive producer job at General Hospital in January 2001 after multi-Emmy winner Wendy Riche bowed as as the show's EP. Phelps joined the General Hospital team after having worked on four other daytime drama series.
Phelps began her daytime career on Guiding Light in 1974. Phelps would later join General Hospital as a music director, a position she held for the better part of a decade. Phelps then joined NBC's Santa Barbara as music supervisor before being named a producer in 1984. She was elevated later that year to executive producer. Under Phelps' guidance as executive producer, Santa Barbara earned three consecutive Daytime Emmys as Outstanding Drama series in the late 1980s.
Upon the cancellation of Santa Barbara, Phelps moved on to work as executive producer of Guiding Light, Another World, and One Life to Live. Her tenure at those three soaps earned her three additional Daytime Emmy nominations.
Early in her run as executive producer for General Hospital, Phelps was targeted by anonymous Internet postings that claimed she showed favoritism to performers she'd worked with previously on other soaps. The brouhaha led to the creation of acronym FOJ, short for "Friends of Jill."
Since assuming the helm as executive producer of General Hospital, the show has earned six Outstanding Drama Series nominations. Three of those nominations turned into Emmy wins.
Frank Valentini, meanwhile, joins the General Hospital team after having worked at One Life to Live for the past 26 years. During that time, Valentini worked his way up through the ranks from stage manager to associate director to coordinating producer to senior producer and director. In 2002, Valentini assumed the role of executive producer.
Valentini won a Daytime Emmy in 2008 for Outstanding Directing Team, and in 2011, picked up another Emmy, this time in the New Approaches category, for his work on the "What If..." fantasy soap crossovers that were broadcast on the Internet by ABC.
In September, Valentini was named Vice President of Serial Drama for Prospect Park's planned online entertainment channel, The Online Network. Late last month, Prospect Park announced that it would not be moving forward with its plans to relaunch All My Children and One Life to Live on the Internet. Valentini would also have continued on as executive producer for One Life to Live under Prospect Park's production.