Busted to Blissful ~ November 2009 ~ GH and AMC


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BUSTED: GH RECASTS LUCKY WITH A FAMILIAR FACE

Greg Vaughan (ex-Lucky, GH)On paper, General Hospital's decision to replace Greg Vaughan in the iconic role of Lucky Spencer after six and a half years, was a no brainer. After all, the show managed to lure back Lucky's original portrayer, Jonathan Jackson, a three time Emmy winner in the role, and a beloved fan favorite.

In reality, the decision has thus far been a mistake. The last time Jackson appeared on GH was ten years ago, when Lucky was still a teenager. In the intervening years, Lucky married and divorced Elizabeth twice, became a stepfather to Elizabeth's two sons, became a cop, battled and overcame an addiction to pain pills, and had steamy affairs with Maxie and Sam. In other words, he's not the same boy he was ten years ago. He's a grown man with grown up responsibilities and problems.

Jackson, who is 27-years-old and a father himself in realJonathan Jackson (Lucky, GH) life, has been blessed with a preternaturally young face. In show business, it's usually an advantage to look younger than you are. However, in this instance, Jackson's youthful countenance does him a disservice. Unfortunately, Jackson still looks like he's 17-years-old which doesn't work for the character of Lucky.

Lucky now looks like he could be Sam's kid brother instead of the guy she had sex with in her hot tub. Sam, who is played by the sexy Kelly Monaco, could eat this new Lucky for breakfast, and spit him out when she was finished. He's not someone she would think twice about having an affair with, and their scenes together are uncomfortable.

It's also painful to watch Jackson's Lucky try and go toe to toe with mob man Jason, when he looks like he should be playing in the sandbox with Elizabeth's kids instead of throwing his weight around the police department. This Lucky is a minor annoyance to Jason, not a legitimate threat. There's no way these two could have ever been on a level playing field for Elizabeth's heart, which is the same problem GH has with this current incarnation of the Lucky/Elizabeth/Nikolas love triangle.

In real life, Tyler Christopher, who plays Nikolas, is nine years older than Jackson, and it shows. Elizabeth's choice is between a boy and a man. Though GH can now use flashbacks to illustrate the characters' complicated history because the original actors are all in place, it wasn't a good enough reason to overthrow Vaughan. Vaughan is eight years older than Jackson, and more of an equal competitor to Christopher. Vaughan's Lucky is a man Elizabeth and Sam would want to be with, and not just out of nostalgia or pity. Jackson's Lucky is someone these women would want to baby-sit.

In his original run, Jackson was known for his chemistry with Rebecca Herbst (Elizabeth). Together, they created one of the most popular young duos in the show's illustrious history. However, time has marched on without the benefit of them becoming adults together, and it's apparent in their interactions they can't pick up where they left off. They're strangers who have to find their way back to their former glory, and it's going to take time.
GH can't wait too long for Jackson and Herbst to discover their magic and reconnect, because Lucky and Elizabeth have already reunited and are getting married, in spite of her secret affair with Nikolas.

And why does Lucky always get the short end of the stick? If GH really wants to delve into these characters' pasts, then why not bring back Elizabeth's sister, Sarah? She was Lucky's first love, and she chose Nikolas over him. Now history is repeating itself with Elizabeth. With Vaughan in the role, it wasn't believable for Elizabeth to chose the spoiled and temperamental Nikolas over Lucky, but somehow with Jackson in the role, it makes sense.

The only area where Jackson outshines Vaughan are his scenes with Tony Geary, who plays Lucky's father, Luke. They have their father/son dynamic down to a science, almost like they never missed a beat. This would work fine if Lucky was only in scenes with his father, and not expected to be a leading man involved in a hot love triangle. Since GH can't isolate Lucky, they should have kept Vaughan.

BLISSFUL: GH AND AMC GET CASTING RIGHT

As off the mark as General Hospital was in its recasting of Lucky, they were right on target with the casting of Dominic Zamprogna as Dominic/Dante.

Dominic Zamprogna (Dominic/Dante, GH)Zamprogna, in his daytime debut, has the difficult task of portraying an undercover cop trying to bring down mob boss, Sonny Corinthos, while not knowing Sonny is his father. It's a tightrope walk of a dual role, and Zamprogna manages it like a pro.

While Zamprogna is easy on the eyes, he's also a good actor who has chemistry with all of his scene partners. He can hold his own with Benard, in scenes where Sonny thinks he's Dominic, a mob flunky who works for him. He's equally strong in his scenes as Dante, with daytime vet Lisa LoCierco, who plays his conflicted mother, Olivia. While he alternates between tough mob guy and take no prisoners cop mode with the adults in his life, he's nothing but tender in his scenes with young Morgan (Aaron Refvem) and Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth) who unbeknownst to him, are his siblings.

He's even become half of a hot new couple, along with Julie Berman's character, Lulu. When Dominic/Dante is trying to convince Lulu to keep his secret, Zamprogna's charm - and dimples - are on full display. It's quite remarkable that in a lot of ways, he really does resemble Maurice Benard (Sonny).

In his scenes with Berman, Zamprogna gets to show his playful, flirtatious side, and bring some humor to his heavy role. Lulu has finally met her match, and this duo has long term, super couple potential written all over them.

Adam Mayfield (Scott, AMC)All My Children is another show that hit pay dirt by casting a daytime newcomer in an important role, with Adam Mayfield in the often recast role of Scott Chandler.

Mayfield, with his jutting jaw, piercing eyes and arched brow, looks like a young David Canary (Adam/Stuart). When Mayfield and Canary are side by side, I could swear they're related. If you're going to be playing Canary's son/nephew, it's not enough to just bear an uncanny resemblance to him, you have to be able to act as well. Mayfield fits the bill on all accounts.

He does a masterful job engaging Canary in their combative scenes together. He also portrays Scott's unrequited love for Annie, his uncle's wife, with equal parts lustfulness and restraint. Melissa Claire Egan (Annie) looks like she's enjoying sparring with her new romantic partner, who can give as good as he gets. Will their relationship turn into something more or will Scott wind up another casualty (like Aidan) in Annie's quest to get what she wants? Thanks to Mayfield, viewers care for the first time in a long time what happens to Scott.

Whatever casting process produced Mayfield and Zamprogna, should be applied to all new soap roles in the future. There's a lot of undiscovered talent out there, and too often soaps opt for a pretty face that can't act. These actors prove you can have both.

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Lesleyann Coker is a reporter and monthly opinion columnist for Soapdom.com. She is also the co-author of Boob Tube, a novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. The book is available in ebook form at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3 . She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.