‘Unemployed’ actor leaves General Hospital amid protests over Mandatory vaccine law

Last week on ABC’s long-running soap opera, General Hospital, fans saw the exit of actor Tyler Christopher, who played Jason Morgan on the show since 2000. But unlike many departures on GH, Christopher’s departure wasn’t entirely amicable, according to media reports.

Christopher is not the only actor from the show who has been outspoken against the controversial immunization mandate in California, which requires all children to be vaccinated. In May, actor Jonathan Jackson — who plays Nikolas Cassadine on the show — posted a video to his Instagram page to plead with members of the city council in Van Nuys, California, not to enact the measure.

In the video, Jackson recounts an incident in a Target store. He explained that a couple was on their way to pick up diapers for their infant when they saw a sign that said the store required vaccinations. Jackson asked the cashier why such a regulation was necessary, and she told him it was mandated by health departments around the country, according to CBS LA. He then confronted the parents, who told him their child had been on the autism spectrum all his life, and that the couple’s decision to vaccinate was strictly based on science.

Days after the video was uploaded, The Parents Television Council said it was a “PR stunt” and a misuse of his fame for “promotion of anti-vaccine activism”. Their criticism coincided with General Hospital’s attention away from Jackson, as the show moved forward and spread the idea that Kevin, Anna’s arch nemesis, was “the next Robin Scorpio”. Jackson remained silent in public as the show erased his character and filled his role with his stand-in, a doctor in Maine who supports vaccinations.

According to TMZ, Jackson made several recent failed attempts to reach out to the show’s producers. Finally, the website reported, an angry fan wrote to Kevin that Jackson had an unauthorised presence on the site and that his character was being written out.

The site also reported that, “Sources close to ABC” would not comment on the authenticity of the TMZ claim, but commented that Christopher is not a paid actor and that neither he nor Jackson have any relationship with the producers. The original TMZ report said that the show’s main producer, Frank Valentini, acknowledged that Christopher is a talent who does not report to the show, and he “cannot speak to his work on the show”.

ABC later released a statement from its publicist Tonya Antonucci, who read: “These are ongoing discussions and not specifically about this particular storyline.”

Jackson denied the TMZ story, according to ABC Soaps in Depth, saying that he was indeed a paid actor and as such, could not “comment on creative decisions at the studio.

“I have always believed in an open dialogue with fans when expressing my feelings on social media,” he continued. “That is why it’s interesting that there have been several false accusations made about my personal life on the matter.”

He added that the comment about an unauthorised presence on the site was not about him and it was “a reference to my Instagram page that contains several photos I have posted of myself without my name on it”.

According to CBS LA, Jackson and Christopher’s removal as characters was part of the same “shuffle” that also sent Michael Easton (Aiden Shaw) and Kassie DePaiva (Kiki Jerome) out of the show. The network told the Los Angeles Times that “this is part of an ongoing creative decision, not just a one-time plan”.

The entire cast of General Hospital was seen in a promotional photo with Jackson’s character Kevin Martin, with his space at the left hand corner.

Since the mandatory vaccination mandate went into effect, many actors from Hollywood have publicly spoken out against it, including Priyanka Chopra, who is outspokenly Indian, and Leslie Bibb, who was born in Philadelphia and is openly gay. Others, such as Chevy Chase, have been outspoken and dismissive of any objections.

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