Soaps

‘General Hospital’ Co-Head Writer Jean Passanante to Exit, Announces Retirement

Jean Passanante
Credit: Getty

General Hospital co-head writer Jean Passanante has announced she will not renew her contract with the long-running ABC serial and will retire from soaps after nearly three decades in the business. The seven-time Daytime Emmy winning scribe will leave the soap at the end of July.

“It gets to be a time when it’s just time,” Jean Passanante told Soap Opera Digest. “And it seemed like the right time. I do have other things that I’m interested in pursuing and I have a daughter who lives in Europe, who I want to visit whenever I can. I have been pondering it for a long time. It’s a pretty consuming kind of job and you need to get your head clear of it every once in a while. It’s been a great 27 years, or something like that — it’s a long time!”

With a career spanning three decades and five soaps on three networks, Jean Passanante has written for All My ChildrenAnother WorldAs the World TurnsGeneral Hospital, One Life to Live and The Young and the Restless over the course of her career. The acclaimed writer earned eight Writers Guild Award nominations and six wins for her work on All My Children (2001, 2002), As the World Turns (2007, 2009); General Hospital (2016, 2017); ten Daytime Emmy nominations, winning four times for One Life to Live (1994) and As the World Turns (2002, 2004 and 2005).

Jean Passanante joined GH’s writing team in 2012, but departed a year later to accept a head writing position at The Young and the Restless. She returned to GH in 2015 and was named co-head writer with Shelly Altman.

Vicki Dummer, head of Current Series Programming, ABC Entertainment, said, “Jean Passanante has been a tremendous talent to the ABC family. Having come full circle, she began her career with ABC in 1992, it is only fitting that she has decided to end her story where it began. While we are all sad to see her go, we are immensely impressed by her creative contributions and are grateful to have worked with her throughout her career and wish her well in her retirement.”

When speaking of her exit on Twitter, Passanante said, “The #GH fans are the best and most passionate ever. Believe it or not, I love you even when we disagree. Thanks for all your kind wishes.”

There’s no answer at press time if Shelly Altman will continue as GH’s sole head writer or if there will be more creative changes ahead. General Hospital airs weekdays on ABC.

My Take: As I said on Twitter, being a head writer is a thankless job and Jean Passanante has done a lot of great work over the course of her career. Jean inherited a show that was derailing due to various behind the scenes issues, little of which had to do with then-head writer Ron Carlivati. She worked her best to reset the show as it existed, slowing down stories and fleshing out characters. I wish her well in the future and hope she continues to be a strong voice of good in the world.

As for GH’s creative future, who knows what’s in store. Whether ABC opts to bring in a new head writer to join Altman, replace her, or keep her in place, a serious look needs to be taken at the state of the show and move to make immediate improvements. GH needs a smaller cast with tighter, more engaging storylines. If I had my choice, I’d look outside the box for an actual new, fresh vision and pair him or her with a veteran hand to stable the ship. But no matter who’s name appears first in the credits, nothing at GH will change if the same meddlesome forces refuse to stay in their lane and let those who are actual writers, write.

About the author

Ryan White-Nobles

Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.