Soap Opera Digest|May 24, 2021
GH Pays Tribute To The Late John Reilly And His Legendary Port Charles Alter Ego, Sean Donely.
Mara Levinsky

On Friday, May 21, GH is slated to air a special, stand-alone episode celebrating the life of Sean Donely and his beloved portrayer, John Reilly, who passed away on January 9.

The seeds for this highly anticipated special episode were planted back in January, when John Reilly’s daughter, TikTok star Caitlin Reilly, shared the news of his death at the age of 86.

Begins Executive Producer Frank Valentini, “When we heard that John Reilly had passed away, the writers and I were discussing a way that we could honor him. We thought maybe we could dedicate an episode [to his memory], and I said, ‘It feels like it’s something that could be a little bit bigger. Why don’t you guys take some time about it?’ And then they came up with the idea to do a whole show around it, with all of our fan favorites being involved — Felicia, Scorpio, Mac, Anna — and we just thought that could be kind of interesting. They put together the entire idea for the show, and when we were talking about casting it, I knew that Caitlin Reilly was an actress and we just reached out and asked if she wanted to be part of it. She was really flattered and so eager to do it. She was just amazing to work with; very, very touched by what we were doing to honor her dad. I think it was also important because it’s also a way for the people who still work on the show who knew John and were very fond of John to sort of mourn the loss of his life. People got to tell stories and it was a lovely day. Everybody worked really hard on it and we put a lot of muscle and a lot of money behind this episode, so I’m excited for the audience.”

According to Co-Head Writer Chris Van Etten, the idea of devoting a full hour to the memorial “was a no-brainer, because John Reilly and his portrayal of Sean are, I think, emblematic of a period of the show’s history that really helped to shape the culture of GENERAL HOSPITAL, and how it became GENERAL HOSPITAL in the eye of the public. It was a time of high adventure and a lot of humor, and we thought it would really be remiss not to honor the contribution he made to the show’s history, to its legacy, and to honor the contribution he made to the canvas in the time he was on the show. But in order to honor Sean, we needed to make sure that the people who were important to Sean were available to be a part of that show, and we got as many of them as we could in the time frame that we could do it.” That includes returning faves Kimberly McCullough as Robin and Kristina Wagner as Felicia, who haven’t been seen since 2018 and 2020, respectively — as well as a top secret surprise guest. Enthuses Van Etten, “I’m super-excited to see some of the people who we haven’t seen in a while come back to honor their friend.”

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