In light of the news that Genie Francis will join The Young and the Restless at the end of May, EW talked exclusively to the ex-Laura Vining Webber Baldwin Spencer to find out why she decided to join CBS and whether it feels like she’s cheating on General Hospital, her daytime home for decades.
EW How were you offered the role?
Genie Francis I got a call from [Y&R Executive Producer] Maria Bell three or four weeks ago. She explained to me that she had seen me on Oprah and liked the idea of what I wanted to play, and she had an idea of how to write that, how to incorporate that into A story on Young and the Restless. She would create a new role for me. I wouldn’t be coming in to replace someone. She called me personally to ask me if I was willing to listen to an offer, and I said, yes, I’m willing!
EW Let’s talk about your appearance on Oprah. You used the mini General Hospital reunion to say “there is nothing in me that is willing to play a victim anymore. I’m sort of done with the wounded dove in my life” when Oprah Winfrey asked whether you’d ever return to the ABC show.
Francis I guess I didn’t really think about how it would be received. I just felt like it was time to talk from my heart, and tell the people that yes, I’d love to come back to work, but I want to work in a way that uses all of me so I’m not just cheating my audience. I felt for a while with the GH appearances, they were kind of using me as a media trick, bringing me on for three or four weeks, saying I was back on the show, but not really writing for me. And then I would be gone. I just didn’t like that anymore. I guess it was me putting my foot down. I would have loved to come back to [General Hospital], but I needed them to write a real role for who this woman would be now. They didn’t respond. I didn’t hear anything. And that’s a shame. I was willing to put it out there, see what could be done. But I did receive a lovely call from Maria!
EW Do you watch Y&R?
Francis. I never watched, but honestly, that’s no insult to them. I don’t even watch the shows I’m on. I’m more into doing that than watching. And I have a hard time watching myself.
EW Does it feel like you are cheating on ABC?
Francis Yes it does, it absolutely does. I told my agent that I talked to Maria and I really liked what she had to say, but do you think maybe you should make a call first to ABC? And he said, `No Genie, just go right ahead with this.’ I’ve been living in Los Angeles for two years with the hope that I would get to go back to work. I’ve done a couple of Hallmark movies, which had been great for me, and I had one appearance on GH during a sweeps period. There was nothing being offered after that.
EW How do you think your fans will respond?
Francis What I have found is that my fan base will follow me to whatever I’m doing. They gave me a big tune-in for Hallmark. They were just happy to see me working again, and my job is not to disappoint them, not to cheat them. And I feel like the last little appearance on GH cheated them. I welcome the opportunity to do something new to continue to entertain my audience. What I loved about Laura — and what people loved about Laura — is that she is a terrific memory, but it’s just not there anymore. [GH] cannot conceive a Laura who is 48 years old, a grown woman. So that’s that. I’m a little surprised, too, since this year is the 30th anniversary of Luke and Laura’s marriage. (The wedding aired on Nov. 17, 1981.)
EW What do you think they’ll do?
Francis They can certainly get the wig out. That wig comes out every now and again. But they can’t do it with me. It certainly seems they didn’t want to.
EW So we won’t see you start on Y&R until the end of May?
Francis Right, but on April 8, I have an appearance on a new TV show called Bar Karma on Current TV. I had the most fun ever making this episode. I play someone with a multiple personality, and I think my fans will be surprised and get a real giggle out of it. It’s a new model for TV in that it is interactive with the community. They use internet ideas from the audience!”
Follow me, Luke and Laura lovers! @EWLynette