Desperately seeking Lucas
Shortly after TV Guide reported that General Hospital teenager Lucas Jones would be coming out, the ABC sudser issued an even more surprising announcement about his portrayer: "Ryan Carnes has decided to move on... and the cast and crew wish him well in all of his future professional endeavors." What's more, the recurring role of Lucas has been recast with Ben Hogestyn, the 21-year-old son of Days of our Lives star Drake Hogestyn.

While GH's rep had no comment on why Carnes quit, a source close to the situation tells that the 22-year-old actor feared being typecast playing yet another gay character. Carnes already appears on Desperate Housewives as Justin, the gardener who was caught canoodling with Bree Van De Kamp's son, Andrew. He also costarred with openly gay American Idol finalist Jim Verraros in the indie film Eating Out; Carnes' bold role called for both full-frontal nudity and an explicit sex scene with a man.

"Ryan is probably the last one who'd have a problem playing a gay character," Carnes' rep counters to "He's done it twice, so he's very happy and very comfortable with it."

The actor's rep adds that his departure was not a reaction to GH's recent decision to write Lucas as gay: "We have known for a good year now that he would be done with General Hospital at the end of this summer because of his fall commitments. We didn't want to get him involved in the gay story line and then up and pull him [from the role] halfway through. [Lucas' sexual orientation is] going to be a central issue that affects everybody on the show. For the integrity of the show and the character, Ryan wanted to bow out before the story line got really good."

Just what are the busy Carnes' "fall commitments," other than the occasional appearance on Housewives? "He has declined [to let] me say anything," the rep says. "He is very superstitious."

Hogestyn's résumé includes guest spots on American Dreams, The Division and Nickelodeon's Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. He has also been an occasional day player on his dad's show, Days. But is Hogestyn prepared to tackle a standout soap tale about a guy who likes guys? "Ben's a great kid," his rep tells "He is totally comfortable playing a gay role."

Stay tuned! Carnes' final airdate on GH is Sept. 21, and Hogestyn will step in as Lucas on Sept. 22.