“General Hospital” has downgraded longtime star Genie Francis from series regular to a recurring role, and fans are not having it.
As Entertainment Weekly reports, more than 20,000 viewers of the long-running daytime drama have signed a petition urging “GH” to return Francis — who’s played Laura Spencer on and off since 1977 — to full-time status.
The petition explains how the show engineered the character’s exit, writing a storyline in which Laura had to travel to Europe to take care of her grandson after he broke both legs, with EW confirming that “General Hospital” had decided not to extend Francis’ contract for another year, instead leaving the possibility open for a return at some point.
“She did not want to leave the show as a series regular,” confirms her agent, Arthur Toretzky, to EW. “It was not her choice to leave.”
While ABC hasn’t explained its rationale for getting rid of Francis, 55, an unnamed network executive indicates there could be a number of reasons behind the decision. “There’s usually more to it than meets the eye,” said the observer.
While EW has been unable to reach Francis for comment, she took to social media to share her gratitude, thanking “all my wonderful fans for their support. It has made me feel so much better.”
Francis and “GH” co-star Anthony Geary were at the centre of one of television’s highest-rated moments, the 1981 wedding of Luke and Laura, which attracted an astounding 30 million viewers to become the most-watched soap episode in TV history.