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Antonio Sabato Jr. returning to daytime?

”Night Shift” star Antonio Sabato Jr. is thinking about returning to ”General Hospital.” Plus: ”Shift” head writer reveals storyline info, the ”One Life to Live” 40th anniversary celebration, and the set of ”Passions” goes up for auction

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Antonio Sabato Jr., General Hospital: Night Shift (Season 1)
Joel Warren

It’s starting to look like SOAPnet’s Night Shift might not be the only stop on Antonio Sabato Jr.‘s return to soaps. The sudser star tells EW.com that bringing his General Hospital character, Jagger Cates, back to the small screen for the second season of the nighttime GH spinoff has made him nostalgic for the daytime mothership. ”I miss these people too much,” Sabato Jr. said of his Port Charles family. ”I think there’s a chance that after this ends I might swing over [to GH], say hello to a few people, maybe bring Brenda back. You never know. The possibilities are endless.”

He has yet to discuss the possibility with ABC execs, citing his grueling schedule over the last few weeks training for and performing on Celebrity Circus (which he just won this week), as well as taping the first two episodes of Night Shift. But he’s pretty confident that the door is open for a daytime reprisal of the character he portrayed from 1992-94 and again in 1995. ”I’m just going to let them decide if it’s something they want. I have a feeling that it’s going to be there for me,” the actor said. ”And I’m going to support General Hospital either way. Whether it’s General Hospital or Night Shift.” A GH rep says there are no plans at this time, ”but you never know…”

Bringing Sabato Jr. back to Port Charles, along with Tristan Rogers (Robert Scorpio), was a top priority for Night Shift‘s new head writer, Sri Rao, who says he’s watched GH since he was eight years old. ”I want fans to know that I’m one of them — totally one of them,” Rao says. ”I absolutely come from this world — as a viewer. It’s the show that I’ve watched the longest in my entire life.”

Rao’s strategy was to bring back legacy characters that would resonate for longtime fans, while writing family-centric storylines that would play for new viewers. The scribe says he’s already sketched out the entire season of Shift, and reveals that Sabato Jr.’s Jagger will be struggling with aspects of being a single father to his five-year-old son, Stone, named after Jagger’s late brother and Robin’s former love. The character’s parental issues will also dovetail with those of Robin (Kimberly McCullough), who is dealing with her ailing superspy father, Scorpio, as well as adjusting to domestic life with Patrick (Jason Thompson) as they start a family. Patrick will face his own personal challenges as he takes on the mantle of family man/provider, testing his and Robin’s strength as a team. ”I want to push their relationship a little deeper and into a more mature place,” Rao said.

In addition to some new blood on Night Shift — including a gay character — look for the burgeoning relationship between Epiphany (Sonya Eddy) and Toussant (Billy Dee Williams). ”I wanted to ask, ‘What does it mean to fall in love at that point in your life?'” Rao asks. ”It looks different. It might be more about companionship, it might be something deeper than what you were chasing after when you were 25.”

Rao calls writing these stories for the people of Port Charles ”a dream come true. Because it was like, now you get an opportunity to play in this world, and what would you do if you could do anything in Port Charles? That?s an amazingly thrilling opportunity as a viewer.”

NEXT: One Life to Live creator Agnes Nixon gets misty-eyed at the show’s 40th anniversary celebration.

OLTL’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY
The One Life To Live set was jumpin’ on July 15 when the show celebrated its 40th anniversary with a visit from creator Agnes Nixon. ABC Daytime president Brian Frons, OLTL executive producer Frank Valentini, and head writer Ron Carlivati were among those on hand to praise the show and fete the 80-year-old writer/producer, who’s taped an appearance on the show (as the Creator in heaven, no less) to commemorate the anniversary. Nixon loaned the cast and crew a scrapbook from the first years of the show that reflected how it pushed racial boundaries by integrating African Americans in the storylines.

”It’s amazing that that was only 40 years ago and the world is so different that now we have a black man running for president,” said Erika Slezak (Viki) as she pored over the scrapbook.

Nixon’s eyes misted up as she remembered the Friday cliffhanger for one racially-charged storyline about Carla Benari (Ellen Holly), a woman everyone — including the audience — believed was of Italian descent. The fact that she was actually African American came to light when Sadie Grey (Lillian Hayman) was revealed as her mother. Nixon remembers the backlash created by that story when Carla became romantically involved with both a white man and a black man, including one letter that said, ”I want to protest her kissing that black doctor. But I’m confused. If it turns out that she’s black, I want to protest her kissing that white doctor.”

When asked if she kept any other memorabilia from the show, Nixon said she didn’t need to because, ”I carry it in my heart.”

EVERYTHING MUST GO
Despite the over-the-top, supernatural happenings that were de rigeur on Passions, the marking of its demise has been pretty businesslike. On Aug. 9, two days before the show’s last air date, props and costumes from the nearly 10-year-old soap will be auctioned off. Among the items included in the auction are Tabitha’s magic wands, Sheridan’s Locket, and Rebecca’s ”Wonder Woman” costume. If you want to try your luck at landing your very own pair of Fluffy’s paws, check out Premiere Props‘ website, where you’ll find information on the live auction as well as how to take part online.

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