Move Over Luke & Laura, Watch Out Roman & Diana... Genie's Back And Pine Valley Will Never Be The Same!
When you look at someone as young as Genie Francis, it's hard to believe the span of her career -- a soap career that began when she was cast Laura Vining on ABC's General Hospital in 1976 at the age of 14. It seems like ages ago that this beautiful blonde was involved in a tumultuous and forbidden romance with Luke Spencer, played by the unconventional Anthony Geary. Luke, as any media freak knows (soap fan or not), raped Laura as the strains of Herb Alpert's "Rise" played in the background. This violent attack, taking place on October 5th, 1979, made headlines, but the response that this storyline received could not, however, prepare the GH brass with the media blitz that would surround the next chapter in the relationship/storyline of Luke and Laura. Their wedding. And what a wedding!
Anticipated like few other daytime nuptials, the ratings went through the roof when Luke and Laura exchanged vows on November 16th and 17th, 1981. As Genie Francis became a married woman (again -- she was married to Scotty Baldwin, who arrived back in Port Charles for the wedding), so too had her status risen from teenage actress to daytime superstar. How many teenage soap stars can you think of who've graced the cover of Newsweek? Not many, but Genie Francis did.
Yet despite her success, Genie was never completely satisfied with the handling of a storyline that would allow a rape victim to reduce her humiliating sitation to one labeled "seduction," and felt the marriage of Luke and Laura was one which did not nor would it ever win her approval. Her decision to leave a show which became top-ranked mainly due to her character's wedding and "on the lam" adventures was met with shock and disappointment by fans and indystryites alike. But Genie was hot and could write her own ticket wherever she wanted. And where she wanted to sign was on the nighttime line.
Stints on 'Murder, She Wrote' and the miniseries 'Bare Essence' and 'North and South' were added to her resume, but finding worthwhile opportunities far and few between, she was tempted to return to her old stomping ground -- daytime. But this time it was a different character on a different show on a different network -- the role of political activist turned publishing heiress Diana Colville on NBC's Days of Our Lives. Diana entered the Salem scene in a horrible state. Beaten up and left for dead, she was found and brought the University Hospital, only to be tended by old buddy Dr. Mike Horton. Though orininally intended to see eye-to-eye romantically with her college chum, the writers took her in the direction of Roman Brady. Definitely DAYS' most insatiable couple -- they were either between the sheets or in between the most comical of arguments -- they were thisclose to tying the knot until Vietnam vet Cal Winters walked back into her life. He claimed to be her husband, she wasn't sure, Roman wasn't told, the rest is history. Unable to live with the guilt of shooting Roman while he was struggling over a gun with Cal, she left Salem in her best Greta Garbo garb and bid Salem, DAYS, Roman Brady, NBC, and her fans adieu.
It was always the open door policy for Genie where NBC was concerned. She could have come back to DAYS at a moment's notice, but chose instead to put her career on hold and concentrate on marriage to Star Trek: The Next Generation star Jonathan Frakes. Rumors circulated at the time of her decision to leave DAYS that she was either pregnant or was hitting the road to begin having babies. Out of the public eye for almost a year, it was quite possible that Genie did have that baby and nobody knew. But that wasn't the case at all. She was merely doing her own Greta Garbo impersonation -- with a quick guest shot reprising her role of Jessica Fletcher's niece on 'Murder, She Wrote.'
In June, there was talk of private meetings between the actress and One Life to Live producer Paul Rauch concering Genie assuming the role of Sarah Buchanan. The role's originator Jensen Buchanan allegedly voiced some interest in not re-signing come September, and Paul was trying to convince Genie to return to the network that made her a star. Well she chose to return to ABC, but it wasn't thanks to the enticing of Mr. Rauch, but the chance to play a character created specifically for Genie by All My Children's Agnes Dixon.
Ceara Connor jumped into the Pine Valley potpourri of intriguing characters on June 27th. The grandniece of Myrtle Fargate, she is a fundraiser who has been commissioned by Pine Valley to raise money for the town. In addition to trying to solicit money from some of the more prominently rich folk in town like Phoebe and Erica, she is also in the process of making a video concentrating on university life as well. A single woman, she lives on the university campus, which makes the endeavor of formulating her video exercise even easier. Once quite poor, she is now only attracted to anyone with money. Men, that is.
There are many men who remain unattached on All My Children, and there are four specifically who very well may be up the Pine Valley alley for Genie Francis' Ceara Connor. Let's examine these fascinating men and see exactly why each of them could hold the key to Ceara's heart.
Jackson Montgomery -- The romantic yet cynical Jackson might appeal to the feisty, fiery side of Genie Francis -- the same quality that made her Diana Colville cross words with Roman Brady at the beginning of their relationship. But like that love affair, you could very well see Ceara igniting sparks with Jackson in a war of words that could lead right to the bedroom.
David Rampal -- Youthful, sexy, athletic... the combination of David and Ceara would be energetic and vibrant. And finding love with a younger man would certainly have Pine Valley citizens whispering about this new gal in town. This would be a first for Genie, a soap girl who usually falls in love with older, more worldly men like Roman Brady and Luke Spencer.
Tad Martin -- Here's exactly the kind of guy a Genie Francis character would go for in a big way. Tad, like Luke, is a terrific guy, but he occasionally reveals scars from his unsavory past. But his past is part of what makes him so appealing. But there are similarities to Roman Brady as well -- especially the brooding, sexy, passionate aspects of his personality. Ceara and Tad have the makings of a supercouple (should she choose him).
Jeremy Hunter -- Unlike any other character who's played opposite Genie Francis, Jeremy possesses a continental charm and elegance that offers vistas of unexplored horizons for her fans. He's adventurous like Roman Brady and Luke Spencer, but with his debonair yet earthy ways, not to mention his psychic and spiritual nature, Jeremy Hunter could bring an ethereal and magical glow to Genie Francis' Ceara.
Whoever Ceara is paired with, the decision is sure to create a chemistry that All My Children hasn't seen in a couple in some time. Will the twosome be as thrilling as Luke and Laura or as super as Roman and Diana? Only time will tell.
by Bill Lieberman