Working On My “Night” Moves

Sometimes, my job really doesn’t suck. Like, say, when I fly to L.A. to spend the day on the set of SOAPnet’s new prime-time series General Hospital: Night Shift. Not only was it exciting to walk into my favorite daytime world, but it was a rare treat to get the inside scoop on a show that features a setup that’s new to both the network and the daytime genre as a whole. Taking the action out of a long-arc format and into one of stand-alone episodes, the show, as the name would suggest, focuses its action on the night shift of the titular hospital’s ER — with locations including, I’m told, a tryst-ready supply closet or two. There’s none of that tawdry action going down today (darn), but there’s plenty else for me to see.

Hanging out in the green room with Bradford Anderson, Jason Thompson, Steve Burton and more of the Night Shift cast was fantastic, and I just had to share the love. We’ll be covering the show and my set visit in our July issue of Channel Guide Magazine, of course, but I just couldn’t let all of my stories from the set wait until then. We’re a little more than a month away from the show’s July 12 premiere now – just enough time to really get you excited about it with some interviews and insight from the set.

Nestled just below the Hollywood Hills on a largely residential street, ABC Studios could be easy to miss. Up past the gate, the tree-lined parking lot is unassuming enough — until you spot the rows of trailers that usually house the actors of Grey’s Anatomy, which also films there. Entering the General Hospital building, I was a little surprised at how nondescript it all is. Dorm-like hallways are lined with dressing rooms, hair and makeup, and such. I quickly found that the real hub was the centrally located green room. Lined with comfy couches and stocked with a healthy supply of tabloids, this room multi-tasks as a home base for extras, a meet-and-greet lounge for fans, and is where I sat down with Spinelli himself, the hilarious Bradford Anderson (who, by the way, took the day’s “I’d love like to get a beer with this guy!” honors).

How’d you get “hired” for the night shift?
I was asked, and that excited me, because that meant someone liked me! Actually, the way I found out was through Steve Burton. A lot of the stuff I do on the regular GH is with him, [and] we have a lot of fun together – our characters have a good chemistry.

Is it tough keeping track of what Spinelli is doing on “GH” and what he’s doing on “Night Shift?”
It’s cool! Spinelli is fighting for the girl on General Hospital, and he is fighting for a girl on Night Shift … the competition, it seems, for Spinelli on [Night Shift] is Jason. I’m not sure Jason is in the mood for a twentysomething blond, so if Spinelli can find a way to win the girl, at least he’s not competing with other suitors, so that’s a plus!

Has “Night Shift” been a real adjustment to shoot?
The first day that we shot, which was location shots and exteriors, that was a little bit different, but it’s just like an extra work day. Normally we work on Fridays, but this time of year we have Fridays off, so now we just don’t have Fridays off! The new relationships are fun – those are kind of the new things: working with different people and new relationships. It’s kind of like when you’re in school and there’s a holiday. … [when you come back], you’re walking down the halls and it’s the same, but something’s different!

How long have you been in L.A.?
I moved out to L.A. about a year and a half ago. I went to NYU – I grew up in New Hampshire, and for a little bit I was doing regional theater outside of New York. In the fall of 2005 I moved out here.

Have your fellow NYU alums ever given you crap for being on a soap?
No, not really! A couple of my friends that still live in New York are on New York soaps, and in New York … soaps are some of the best gigs to get, because you can actually still do [theater] shows at night. They’re one of the best money jobs in New York, because there’s not that many TV jobs in New York. So soaps are a big deal! Out here they’re not such a big deal; you’re kind of lower on the totem pole. But I think that people that come from theater all have the idea that work is work, so we’re all pleased whenever we’re working.

Have you had any early response from fans about “Night Shift?”
They’re incredibly interested and curious about it. To see your favorite characters in a completely new environment – well, not a completely new environment, but I think they’re just excited to have another opportunity to see their favorite characters do something that they’re not used to seeing them doing.

Soap fans are known for being really passionate; what’s the strangest fan encounter you’ve had?
I’m on MySpace, so I’m privileged enough to get a lot of response. There’s been some strange messages, but I see all of them as positive. I’ve only started to do events; I did a publicity event at the University of Florida, and everyone is – there’s so much joy and happiness when you meet soap fans! It’s all new to me, but it’s fun.

Check back soon for another report from the Night Shift!