ABC is going in a different direction with “General Hospital,” it was announced on Monday.
Patrick Mulcahey is returning to the fold as the show’s new co-head writer working alongside veteran writer Elizabeth Korte, who has been with the show since 1994 and has held various positions ever since, including her previous position as script editor and historian. Mulcahey and Korte are replacing co-head writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor, whose scripts will air into March.
In mid-December, immediately following the show breaking its own record with 16 wins for Outstanding Daytime Drama Series during “The 50th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards,” Nathan Varni, the current series executive in charge of the show’s production who handles matters from the network level, made note that despite the show winning awards, his goal for the new year was to win back “lapsed viewers.” In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Varni said, “We have a lot of work to do but we’re all ready to work hard for YOU!”
Varni’s post received approximately 145,000 views since it was published last month.
Following the months-long writer’s strike that ended in late September, Van Etten and O’Connor’s names reappeared in the show’s credits starting with the Monday, December 18, 2023 episode. One week later, we reported the series had hit a new season low among Total Viewers, with just 1.915 million people tuning in. This marked the fifth time overall the series had gone below the two million viewers mark this season, but the first with material written by the show’s regular writers.
Since then, the show has seen three consecutive weeks of growth, each above the two million viewer mark. In fact, during the week of January 8-12, 2024, the most recent week in which Nielsen data is available, “General Hospital” hit a new season high with 2.192 million viewers tuned in, marking the third consecutive week of gains among Total Viewers which amounted to the show adding +277,000 viewers over the same three week period.
That said, the Women 18-49 and Women 25-54 sales demographics are what sell ad rates for daytime programming and keep the lights on. Among Women 18-49, “General Hospital” is experiencing its worst season ever, with just a 0.2 rating in the demo. During the week of January 8-12, 2024, the show marked its sixth consecutive week where it tied its series low. The other two remaining network soaps – “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” – also hit or are tying their series low in the demo, each with a 0.3 rating. In the case of “The Bold and the Beautiful,” this is the show’s 28th straight week tying its series low.
Van Etten had been the co-head writer of “General Hospital” since October 2017, replacing Jean Passanante, who decided to retire after 25 years working as a writer. Van Etten worked alongside the show’s remaining co-head writer, Shelly Altman, through much of 2019 until she also retired, leaving the door open for O’Connor to replace her. O’Connor began his tenure as co-head writer in November 2019.
Prior to head writing at “General Hospital,” Van Etten had been a breakdown writer at the show since May 2012, joining the writing staff, which was at the time led by former “One Life to Live” head writer Ron Carlivati (now at “Days of our Lives”).
At “One Life to Live,” Van Etten was the assistant to the show’s executive producer, first working for Gary Tomlin and then Frank Valentini, from 2001-2003 before he changed positions and became a writer’s associate. Soon after, he was promoted to the position of continuity supervisor before being named an associate head writer in August 2005. By November 2006, Van Etten had become a breakdown writer at the New York-based daytime drama series.
Also getting his start in daytime at “One Life to Live,” O’Connor was a writer’s associate from 2007-2011. Like Van Etten, O’Connor later joined Carlivati’s writing team at “General Hospital” in 2013, where he held the dual role of associate head writer and breakdown writer before being named co-head writer.
The last time “General Hospital” won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing Team for a Daytime Drama Series was in 2009 under the show’s then-head writer Robert Guza, Jr., whom both Mulcahey and Korte worked under throughout the latter part of the 1990s.
Mulcahey’s writing career began in 1979 as a scriptwriter for the series “Texas.” He joined the writing team of “The Bold and the Beautiful” in 2005 and worked as a scriptwriter and story consultant there until 2019.