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‘General Hospital’ Shakeup: Ron Carlivati Out; Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante Named New Head Writers

"General Hospital" logo courtesy ABC

ABC has announced a major creative change at General Hospital. Head writer Ron Carlivati has been let go from the soap he’s called home since 2012. Industry veterans Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante will take over as co-head writers effective August 10.

“We are pleased to welcome back two esteemed writers to our ‘General Hospital’ family,” said Vicki Dummer, Executive Vice President Current Series Programming, in a statement to the press. “Shelly and Jean’s combined talents and experiences promise to continue the show’s legacy of compelling storytelling that will resonate with our impassioned viewers. We’re delighted with what they have in store for the show as they continue honoring the rich, diverse environs of Port Charles.”

Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante are coming off a one-year stint as head writers for CBS’ The Young and the Restless.

Altman’s resume includes writing positions at Another World, One Life to Live and General Hospital. She briefly served as co-head writer in 2012, though her run was cut short due to the hiring of Ron Carlivati (her material hadn’t begun airing when he was hired in December 2011). She joined the Y&R writing team in 2012 and was promoted to co-head writer with Passanante and Tracey Thomson in 2013. Shelly Altman has received six Writers Guild Awards nominations and six Daytime Emmy nominations. In 2008, she took home a statuette for her work on General Hospital.

With a career spanning three decades and five soaps on three networks, Jean Passanante has written for All My Children, Another World, As the World Turns, General Hospital, One Life to Live and The Young and the Restless over the course of her career. The acclaimed writer earned five Writers Guild Award nominations and four wins for her work on All My Children (2001, 2002) and As the World Turns (2007, 2009); eight Daytime Emmy nominations, winning four times for One Life to Live (1994) and As the World Turns (2002, 2004 and 2005). Jean joined GH’s writing team in 2012, but departed a year later to accept a head writing position at Y&R.

Author’s Note: Outgoing head writer Ron Carlivati may have been polarizing among fans, but his impact on General Hospital since he and executive producer Frank Valentini arrived in 2012 should not go unacknowledged. GH was running on borrowed time prior to his hiring due to years of executive neglect and creative mismanagement. Under his pen, the show hit ratings highs not seen in nearly a decade, fan favorites returned with prominent storylines and new life was breathed into series. Carlivati was not without his faults – not enough attention was paid to plot consistency or character motivation, the overabundance of camp and dropped storylines for months at a time are just a few – but he was a major improvement over his predecessor. I like Carlivati, I don’t think he should have been fired, but I’m not saddened to see him go either.

I think Altman and Passanante will be a good fit for GH. I was a fan of their work on Y&R and felt they were removed far too soon. They’re inheriting a show that, while off course in recent months, can be brought back to center with a few adjustments.

Ryan White-Nobles
Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TV Source Magazine. He's began covering entertainment and soap operas in 2005. In 2009 he co-launched Soap Opera Source, and led the TV Source rebrand in 2012. 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.

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