Interviews: House General Hospital Fans Built.

Monday, December 6th, 2010

    Lisa LoCicero (Lori Wilson/

    "It's like your presence is somehow helping in some small way to be part of something great for someone."

    On Saturday December 4, several members of the General Hospital cast gathered in Lynwood, California for The House That General Hospital Fans Built event. Together with Habitat for Humanity, fans who registered were able to work alongside their favorite Port Charles residents to help build a 10-unit development for 10 families, who are expected to move into their new homes in early 2011. was on hand at the 2nd Annual House That General Hospital Fans Built, which is the baby of Lisa LoCicero (Olivia) and Brandon Barash (Johnny), who helped gather the rest of their castmates to participate. As the fans readied to start their morning, Brandon and Lisa addressed the crowd to thank them for donating their money and time for such a worthy cause. Brandon expressed his excitement over seeing the walls they built last year incorporated into the houses they would be working on that day. He marveled at the generosity of the fans, saying, "These aren't easy times economically and asking for time off of work and it being the holidays and plane tickets, etcetera, it means a lot to all of us that you took the time and money. So, thank you. We're a smaller group this year, but we’re mighty, damn it and we're going to make it happen. Thank you so much."

    The build.
    After the introductions, the fans met with the cast member they would be working with and then met with their crew leader to get their instructions for the day. Some painted, some built cabinets and others used some sort of machine to pound down the dirt. Little Lexi Ainsworth (Kristina) mastered this machine that looked bigger than her. As we casually talked, she said using that machine was the highlight of her experience, even if her muscles felt a little numb afterwards.

    Lexi Ainsworth (Lori Wilson/

    I caught up with the woman who helped start it all, Lisa LoCicero, as she painted the interior of one of the houses and learned how this whole thing started. "Well, Brandon and I were doing a lunch," she explained. "He had a lunch to do and I joined him. As we were having lunch, Ali Winkler [from Habitat For Humanity] discussed the possibility of building a house that was completely done with fans of General Hospital and actors from the show and we immediately thought it was a great idea. From that, we just kind of jumped in and started the one last year, which was done a little bit differently, but a pretty similar concept, which is come, hang out, build, have a good time and you know, make a house for somebody that currently doesn't have one. And last year we all had such a great time doing it, that pretty much every person that came last year said, 'I want to do it again next year.'"

    She admitted, "I'm not a great painter. You know, it's interesting. Knowing that it's someone else's hallway that they're going to have to walk up and down for the rest of their lives, I’m giving it my best effort in terms of trying to get all the paint on smooth and even."

    As for the fans donating money for the cause, Lisa expressed, "It's a hard one because in this economy, no one's got two nickels to rub together and it's Christmas time, but I think there's always a little bit of room to give to a great cause like this and when you get to have fun at the same time, it's a great way to sort of treat yourself to something fun and do something for someone else. What could the holiday season be more about than that? I think maybe that's why we choose to do it around the holidays too." She added it makes a great gift to send someone to help build next to their favorite General Hospital cast member.

    Ronnie Marmo (Ronnie), who was also on painting detail, told, "I was here last year. It's not my first time building in my life. When I was younger, I tried to make a living at this, but I kept falling off the ladder and stuff so it's not for me, but, Habitat, this is my second year. And it's awesome. It's really cool."

    As for why he decided to participate, he mused on how we take for granted having a house to go home to and reflected, "The idea of participating in someone having a home is amazing. It just feels good to finally to be at a point in your life that people think by you showing up, you somehow help with that. It's like your presence is somehow helping in some small way to be part of something great for someone. I'm very lucky to be here."

    Julie and Ronnie (Lori Wilson/

    Julie Marie Berman (Lulu), also on paint detail and who also helped out last year, explained her reasons for wanting to participate: "Initially I got involved because other people on the show were involved and it's something I'd never done and it sounded like fun and something I've wanted to participate in. I enjoyed last year. I enjoyed actually physically doing something for a cause rather than, you know, donating your time rather than your finances to something."

    She also let us know that she knows her way around home improvement projects. "I'm like more handy I think than most girls are. I enjoy painting. I painted the inside of my house so I feel much more at ease with [painting] than with the hammering. Even though I’m actually not too bad at hammering and putting things together and that sort of thing, this is a lot more my style."

    Another returning painter, Leslie Charleson (Monica) got involved because, "It was presented by Lisa and Brandon, they corralled us. Well, not corralled us. They made it something that you want to do. Well, there are lots of things you can get involved in, but this is something physical, it is something you can see. I was just looking around and that's probably what we did last year – the frames. I had never done it before and it makes you feel good. It really does. It's so worthwhile. I was talking to a woman who has one of the first houses that she cannot wait to get into. You really see the effect of your work. That is rewarding. So rewarding."

    First timer Brianna Brown (Lisa) enthused over painting the exterior of one of the homes, "It's been a lot of fun. I've overcome my fear of scaffolding and ladders, so it's a lot of fun."

    Does she work on her own home improvement projects? "No," she laughed. "I don't, but it's good to work on those skills and remember, oh, yeah. I'm capable of doing this."

    Leslie, Lisa and fans. (Lori Wilson/

    As for how she got involved, Lisa explained, "Brandon had mentioned it and I have always wanted to try and work with Habitat For Humanity. After reading the safety instructions I became nervous about all things that could possibly happen. I started thinking about backing out, but I was like, no it will be fun."

    General Hospital.
    Since we had them, asked these actors about their characters and storylines.

    Lisa LoCicero discussed her character's break up with Johnny Zacchara (Brandon Barash). "I think according to the writers, they're not completely done with the two of us. I think there's still a little bit, but I think they're really really excited about the potential between maybe Olivia and Steve. I think that's where their inspiration is at the moment. I feel like maybe Johnny and Olivia went through so much at the end, even the viewers were like, 'Look. If you guys are going to break up, just do it already.' [laughs] You know what I mean? So we got to see them move on a little bit if they're going to ever come back together. Because there's always going to be a lot of heat between Johnny and Olivia, but they got to move on if they're going to come back together."

    As for Lisa moving on to a new love interest, she mused, "Moving on with Steve Webber [Scott Reeves] is not a bad way to move on. If your rebound guy was Steven Lars Webber, you could do a lot worse. And Scott is such a dream to work with. We had a long day yesterday shooting some of the tragedy for the upcoming quasi-sweeps storyline. I think it's going to be kind of heart wrenching. I'm hoping that it comes out. Not that everyone wants to be heartbroken at the holidays, but those kind of storylines, the point of that – you're sitting there watching and it puts you in mind how much you care about the people in your life. You think, what if that…and it makes you look around the room with your family and you say, 'You know what? Maybe these little things that are annoying me aren't such a big deal, because I sure would hate to lose them in a bus crash.' You know what I mean? You put it in that kind of perspective and you realize, "You know what? Cook the turkey however you want because I'm really happy to have you in my life." You know? That kind of thing. So, working with Scott is fantastic and I’m looking forward to whatever they have for us. I hope it's steaming hot."

    Leslie Charleson previewed that Monica would be missing yet another holiday when Christmas rolls around. When it was mentioned how missed Monica was at Thanksgiving, Leslie responded, "She was and will be at Christmas. I'm not going to be there at Christmas. Leslie's going to go back East for Christmas. Hopefully next year we'll see some more of her."

    Brianna Brown (Lori Wilson/

    Ronnie Marmo didn't know what was to come for his alter ego. "I really don't know what's going on," he said. "I'm just hoping's a good sign that they sent me to the hospital to be involved in another case. The fact that they are sending me other places and it's not Sonny 24 hours a day right now, is a good sign that maybe I'll have my job for awhile. When I came on I thought it was just going to be about that and I'd be off. So, I’m not really sure what's next, you know, a girlfriend wouldn't be a terrible thing."

    Julie Marie Berman was as equally in the dark about what's to come for Lulu. "You tell me. I don't know. I don't know what the heck is happening with my character to be honest. I wish I could tell you. It's a better question for Dante [Dominic Zamprogna]." Unfortunately Dominic went in a house to paint, never to be spotted again by

    Finally, Brianna Brown, previewed that for Lisa, "There's definitely more scenes with Johnny, but there's also a lot more scenes back in the hub as well."

    When asked how she enjoyed working with Brandon Barash and getting away from the Patrick (Jason Thompson) drama a little bit, she responded, "It's been fun. I don't know that it's getting away from the Patrick drama, I'll be honest, but it's definitely fun to work with Brandon."

    Unfortunately though, she couldn't tease anything juicy. "I don't know what I can tell. Geez what can I tell? I don't know if I can tell it yet. There's definitely more to come. That's all I can say, but I have to keep my lips sealed."

    For more photos from the day, check out the Image Gallery.

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    - Lori Wilson

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