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SID October 3, 2000

The Backstage Story of Vanessa's Return!

On Friday, August 25, General Hospital managed a rarity in this, the information age: They pulled off a surprise, with the return of popular alumna Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda). Who was in on the secret? Who wasn't? And how did GH keep it all under wraps? Read on for answers!

The In Depth Story: Just last month, Soaps In Depth posed the question: To facilitate Jax's exit, might GH "pull an ER" and bring back Marcil in the same top-secret manner that the NBC hospital drama gave viewers an unexpected cameo by departed fan favorite George Clooney? GH's answer, it turned out days later, was yes!

While Marcil's return may just have been wishful thinking at the time, it soon after became reality when Jax (and GH's audience) got a better look at the new mystery woman whose whereabouts were being tracked by Stefan. As the camera panned to the brunette beauty's face, no designer could hide the truth: Vanessa had returned!

"Nothing brings more joy to my heart than knowing I can still go back [to GH]," the actress has told Soaps in Depth - and come back she did! So how did ABC keep it hush-hush? While Marcil's publicist declined to discuss her client's encore appearance, Soaps in Depth has learned that Marcil's scenes were taped at the last minute on the morning of August 21 - just four days prior to airing. And while some have speculated that, as Clooney did for ER, Marcil reported to a location away from the show's studios, a source says that she, in fact, taped her cameo at GH.

The secrecy not only kept viewers in the dark, it also fooled many GH-ers. "I didn't know that Vanessa had returned until I walked in that morning and saw her," one actor tells Soaps In Depth.

Naturally, fans were ecstatic. "I was thrilled when I saw that it was Vanessa!" raved one on the Internet. Said another: "I was pleasantly surprised."

But was that really Brenda who baited Jax into his global pursuit? All a GH rep allows is, "It definitely was Vanessa."

Ingo's thoughts on J&B

"That relationship really worked. It was a great triangle [between Jax, Brenda and her ex-fiance, mobster Sonny Corinthos]. It was one of the best stories with the backwards and the forwards with the Sonny thing. I thought it was realistic and well-done. Fans were split up the middle about where they wanted Brenda to go. They thought it was going to be all Sonny and Brenda because they were so tight, but ha ha! Look out! It was sad when she left. It was kind of hard to top her, in a relationship sense."