Former ‘General Hospital’ star and daytime fan favorite Genie Francis joins the cast of ‘The Young and the Restless’ this May!
The Young and the Restless Taps Daytime Legend and Fan Favorite Genie Francis For New Contract Role!
Stop the presses! In what is quite possibly one of the BIGGEST casting scoops of the year (thus far at least), Entertainment Weekly exclusively reports that Genie Francis is joining the cast of The Young and the Restless! No, it’s not a cruel early April Fool’s joke, the daytime veteran will begin her contract role at the end of May. Francis will play the mother of the recently departed Ethan Cane Ashby (played by Daniel Goddard). Though Cane’s been dead since February, he (or someone who looks a lot like the hunky Aussie) seems to be haunting his wife Lily (Christel Khalil). The casting of Francis will reunite her with friend and former General Hospital co-stars Tristan Rogers (Colin; ex-Robert Scorpio), Stephen Nicholas (Tucker; ex-Stefan), Judith Chapman (Gloria; ex-Ginny) and Kin Shriner (Jeffrey; ex-Scotty).
This news will come as a blow to those GH fans hoping for Francis to return as Laura Spencer. During an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show last month, Francis made it clear there would need to be some big changes made to her character before she returned. “If there is a way to go forward with Laura and make her into what I’d like her to be now, then perhaps I would do it.” (View Genie and Tony’s segment on Oprah)
Assuming the role of Laura in 1977, Francis spent the next 34 years (off and on) playing one-half of daytime’s most popular supercouple. Francis departed the show in 82, returning in 83 to help usher off co-star Anthony Geary (Luke). Francis would later join Days of Our Lives as Dianna Colville (1987-1999) and later All My Children and Loving as Ceara Connor Hunter. She returned to General Hospital in 1992. Over the next 10 years, Francis would participate in a number of major storylines, including the birth of Luke and Laura’s daughter Lulu, the introduction of her “secret” son Nikolas, romance with Stefan Cassadine, the death of her son Lucky and the divorce of Luke and Laura. In 2002, Francis left General Hospital after a very public contract dispute.
Francis requested the summer off due to the milestone birthdays for herself and her husband, actor Jonathan Frakes. However Francis was denied this request by executive producer Jill Farren Phelps. In her exit interview with TV Guide, Francis explained that though this wasn’t the sole reason for her exit, it was the final straw. “They put in my last contract that I had to give 120 days notice to get a six-week vacation. I had completely forgotten that it was there, and that made me really angry because I fought all along to have equality with my partner, Tony, and they don’t impose that on him for his vacations, but they do impose it on me. I just decided that this wasn’t right. I’ve worked long and hard, and I’ve fought for equality, and I can’t seem to achieve it. And I’m not ever going to turn 40 and my husband’s not going to ever turn 50 again. I wanted to live my life without feeling like I was so owned by [ABC] and that I had to beg for every little scrap of time off. It didn’t feel right anymore. Life does not go on forever. So I just felt like, as much as I love the show, as much as I love Laura, as much as I love many of the people there, I really essentially needed a longer leash, and they wanted me to have a shorter one. So I just said, ‘That’s it. I can’t do it.'” Francis was clear she didn’t blame Phelps for her exit, but did felt the show didn’t want her stay, as they did nothing to attempt resolve the dispute.
Over the next few months, Laura’s descent into madness continued, culminating with her falling into a catatonic state. Francis would remain away from General Hospital until 2006, when she returned for the 25th anniversary of Luke and Laura’s wedding, earning her first ever Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress. Francis returned again for a short stint in 2008. Though General Hospital head writer Robert Guza has repeatedly stated he’d love to have Genie back on the show full time, the actress has disputed that, claiming they haven’t shown interest.
Francis has kept busy the last few years, appearing in the TV movies The Note and The Note II: Taking A Chance on Love. In 2009 she released a Christmas CD.
Editor’s POV: This is great news for CBS, who continues the trend of picking up ABC cast-offs and integrating them into the fold as The Young and the Restless. Francis should fit nicely alongside her former GH co-stars and will hopefully be involved in a well written storyline. It’s sad that GH has yet again lost an opportunity to bring a fan favorite back to the show. Laura’s children need her now more than ever, but GH’s loss is Y&R’s gain.