Marcil checks back in to ABC's 'General Hospital'

NEW YORK (AP) - August 12, 2010

"He's the king, and I always kind of wished for a story line with Tony," says Giovinazzo, who plays fan favorite Brenda Barrett. "I don't care. Brenda could be his assistant. I don't care!"

Giovinazzo first joined the show in 1992. She left the show in 1998 but returned and left again in 2003. She also was a regular cast member on "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Las Vegas."

ABC Daytime hasn't said whether the writers have a Brenda/Luke story line, but the network is throwing quite a welcome back party for her return.

On Tuesday, ABC pre-empted "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" to air old episodes featuring Brenda ahead of her return the next day. On Sunday, Disney-ABC's SOAPnet channel is running a marathon of shows focusing on Brenda's tumultuous relationship with mobster character Sonny Corinthos.

The Emmy Award-winning actress said the network's reaction to her return is an honor.

"It feels the same as it did for me when I first started the show," she told The Associated Press in an interview. "I've always been treated like gold by them, and I love the characters, my co-stars and the show, so it's really all my pleasure."

Brenda first arrived to the fictional town of Port Charles, N.Y., as a bratty high school student who had dropped out of boarding school. At the time, Giovinazzo had no idea the impact Brenda would have and was just excited to be working.

"I mean, I thought it was special that I got a job, but other than that I was clueless to how lucky I was about to become," she says, laughing.

It didn't take long for Brenda to move from obligatory teen romance stories to the front burner, especially when her character got together with Corinthos.

Eighteen years later, Giovinazzo is more aware what all the fuss is about when it comes to Brenda's appeal.

"I love everything about her," she says. "I just love how bold she is, and I love how broken she is and, um, I love how unevolved she is, and I love that she is just kind of raw emotion. I love her."

Fans seem to be curious if not excited about what the character's return will bring.

"Vanessa Marcil is a part of 'GH' at its best," says Marisa Sarnoff, of Los Angeles.

"I will be watching all the time now that Brenda is back!" says Lisa Lewis, of Barrington, Ill.

It's no secret the genre has been in trouble, with a plunge in ratings. After "As the World Turns" airs its last episode on Sept. 17, "General Hospital" will become American TV's oldest continuing soap. Despite this, ABC seems committed to its soaps, especially "GH," and is trying new things to drum up interest. This summer a series of webisodes called "What If," featuring characters from the different shows encountering each other, has gone viral.

Film star James Franco appeared in two story arcs on "General Hospital" in the past year, playing a psychotic artist named Franco. Efforts like these seem to be working, viewers say.

"'GH' has been great lately, especially with James Franco, so I have high expectations for how Marcil's character will tie into current story lines," Philadelphia resident Tricia Ebarvia says.

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