"General Hospital" — the longest-running scripted series on the air and now reaping the most nominations at this year's Daytime Emmy Awards — has gone from bust to boom.
The nearly 50-year-old soap opera (seen at 3 p.m. weekdays, ABC) was nearly cancelled in recent months due to deflating ratings and the network's new direction toward more cost-effective programming, such as non-scripted series and talk shows.
But then the Daytime Emmy nominations came out, and "GH" scored with 56 nods, including Outstanding Drama Series and key nominations in acting categories. The show has been renewed for at least one more year and has a new executive producer and head writer at the helm to steer it back into the place. The Daytime Emmys will air 8 p.m. Saturday on HLN (formerly known as the Headline News channel).
"Nominations or not, the Daytime Emmys is a great night to come together with peers and celebrate that we're still around," says Bradford Anderson, the"General Hospital" star who nabbed a supporting actor nomination for his portrayal of lovelorn cyber geek Damien Spinelli.
"I think morale (on 'GH') is pretty high right now. Our numbers are going up. People feel like that are being pushed to do good work.
"We're all just grateful to have a job still."
There's every reason to see why morale has not been up. Even the Daytime Emmys ceremony was struggling to find a broadcaster to air it. In recent years, the awards show's numbers have been waning as daytime TV's ratings have fallen into decay.
Many longtime actors on "GH" were let go; some quit because of a "sinking ship" behind-the-scenes morale in the past year.
Only four dramas remain on the networks' daytime schedules: "The Young & The Restless" (the most-watched drama), "The Bold & The Beautiful," "Days of Our Lives" and "GH." "The Bold & The Beautiful" failed to earn an Outstanding Drama nomination in favor of the cancelled soap "All My Children."
"We take a lot of pride in our work," says "General Hospital" actor Brandon Barash, who plays tortured mobster Johnny Zacchara. "A nomination is a nomination. It doesn't mean you're good, bad or whatever. It's just good to see your hard work is recognized."
"General Hospital" actor Scott Reeves, who can be seen as Dr. Steven Webber, says the daytime landscape has changed "dramatically" in recent years, with tighter budgets, heavier shooting schedules and the threat of unemployment. Feeling the love of the Emmy nominations may be just what the doctor ordered.
"It's still nice," he says, "to see your co-workers supporting your work. Hopefully we'll be able to accommodate the network in a way so we can still be (on the air) for a very long time."
As Barash sees it, "being on the chopping block has been scary, but to be nominated (56 times) is like being renewed."
Other highlights for the week of June 17-23. All times Eastern. Listings subject to change; Check local listings.
n "Operation Cupcake" (8 p.m. Hallmark Channel). An army colonel (Dean Cain) returns home to his family and starts running a cupcake business — apron and all.
n "The Killing" (9 p.m. AMC). Sarah and Holden's investigation comes to a close in the season finale.
n "Pyros" (9 p.m. Weather Channel). This reality series looks at pyro technicians braving the elements to put on an explosives show.
n "Bristol Plain: Life's A Tripp" (10 p.m. Lifetime). Bristol Palin's reality series focuses on raising her son with their colorful family.
n "Futurama" (10 p.m. Comedy Central). A new season powers up for this futuristic animated comedy. Guest stars this season: George Takei, Wanda Sykes and Estelle Harris.
n "Snooki & JWOWW" (10 p.m. MTV). Two "Jersey Shore" girls spin-off into their own adventures in this reality series.
n "Tall Hot Blonde" (8 p.m. Lifetime). Based on a true story produced by Courteney Cox, this movie follows a gambling obsession that turns into a cyber seduction and a murder. Thomas Montgomery ("Raising Hope") stars.
n "Arachnoquake" (9 p.m. SyFy). An earthquake unleashes massive albino spiders. The lesson: If the ground is shakin', you better start quakin'. Edward Furlong co-stars.