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On the Waterfront: GH Goes on Location at the San Pedro Harbor for a Good Cause
by Kate Forsyth, SOD 4/2/91

"With the return of Gloria Monty, it's not surprising that General Hospital has jumped into a new action-packed storyline- with a twist.  In a very nineties story, the show is focusing on environmental issues by having characters stage a protest on the waterfront. The remote was shot at the San Pedro harbor, which doubled for fictional Port Charles and also introduced several new characters to the show.

Cheryl Richardson makes her TV debut in the role of Jenny Eckert, sister of Bill Eckert (Anthony Geary).   A rebellious young woman, Jenny is the head of Greenbelt, an environmental group similar to Greenpeace. In the story, the Greenbelts believe the Quartermaines' ELQ liner is leaking chemicals.  They want to prevent the ship from docking in Port Charles and polluting the waterfront. As the ship's sailing in, it's taking on water and slowly starting to sink. Just as it's getting close to the dock, Jenny races by the freighter in a speedboat. Suddenly, there's a fire and an explosion, and the boat runs into the pier.

The actress remembers her debut fondly: 'My first day was the remote.  It was my first experience on TV.  It was smooth sailing, literally.  My very first scene was in a Zodiac boat which looks like a big orange raft with an outboard motor. I was so intent on how to drive the boat, it took my nerves away on my acting.' Quite an introduction for a new character, whom Richardson describes as a 'rabble-rouser.'

Laughing about the stunt, she admits, 'No, I didn't know what I was doing  There was a stunt guy just in case, hiding in the boat under the tarp. But his head was at the front end of the boat.  I'm thinking, "If we're going to capsize, he's not going to have enough time to do anything."' The actress had to wear a wet suit under her clothing, in case she fell in the water.  Despite all the action and adventure, Richardson insists, 'I want to be in the studio, that's what sounds exciting.'

During the remote, General Hospital also introduced another important character- Robert Scorpio's (Tristan Rogers) enigmatic brother. His portrayer, John J. York, reveals, 'His name is Malcolm, Mac for short.  You don't know who he is until you see the ELQ freighter. It blows up, and a lot of people on board jump off the ship, including me.  While swimming to shore, unbeknownst to me, Robert's the police officer in charge. I swim and barely make it to the raft, and then we're face-to-face for the first time in many, many years. Robert and Mac are estranged, but I'm not telling why.'

As with Cheryl Richardson, York's introduction required action before acting. Fortunately, he can swim.  The San Pedro harbor, he declares, 'was cold, but I was floating because I was wearing a wet suit under my clothes. The wet suit kept me from being both wet and cold.'  A proper introduction for the actor who describes his first day as his 'baptism'. A wet suit, York describes, 'is like getting into a girdle. I lost ten pounds just putting it on.'

Prior to his new role on GH, York's only other soap opera stint was as an 'underfive' on Capitol. Many will be surprised to learn that York's Australian accent on the show is fake. He says, 'When I got the audition, I bought an Australian dialect tape.  It just takes practice, but it wasn't too hard.  It's really just mimicking.'

The San Pedro remote was orchestrated and directed by Gloria Monty. 'I was in awe. She knows what she's talking about. She has an unbelievable energy and knows what she wants,' Richardson says."


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