Happy Anniversary, GENERAL HOSPITAL!

While your typical primetime drama is lucky to last long enough to air 50 episodes, the ABC sudser GENERAL HOSPITAL today will mark a truly epic milestone as it broadcasts its 12,785th.

As our friend Richard M. Simms, executive editor of Soaps In Depth magazine says, “That’s 12, 302 more episodes than LAW & ORDER ran during its 20 year run.”

So how does a show celebrate such a huge occasion? By pulling out all the stops, according to Simms. “The show has turned this anniversary into an incredible event for the fans. Over the past few months, favorite characters have come back to the show, storylines from the past have been revisited, and it’s all leading up to the return of the Nurses Ball.”

The punctuation challenged event — it should, technically, be the Nurse’s Ball — will see the good (and bad) residents of Port Charles taking to the stage to sing, dance and perform comedy routines in order to raise money for AIDS research. “The first Ball took place back in 1994,” explains the editor, “and it was a huge success. Fans loved it so much that the event was held every year until 2001.”

But then, soap budgets were drastically cut and the event went the way of big, splashy location shoots. Until now.

“Headwriter Ron Carlivati and executive producer Frank Valentini have a real love for this show,” says Simms, “and they’ve really gone out of their way to make fans happy. You may not be able to please all the people all the time, but man, they’re doing their damndest!”

According to Soaps In Depth’s new issue, this year’s Ball will feature an ugly ducking being transformed into a swan, a first kiss, and some big cat fights… as well as a rumored 13 costume changes for the hostess, Lucy Coe (played by Lynn Herring).

“This is sort of a culmination of all the special things the show has been doing over the past six months,” says Simms. “But it’s not as if things will slow down after this. There are still big surprises coming down the road. We haven’t seen the last fan-favorite return. I think the show has really figured out that balancing new characters and returnees is a formula for success. With any luck, they’ll be able to turn it into another 50 years of soapy goodness!”

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