Michael Easton Michael Easton

Will General Hospital fans accept Michael Easton, Roger Howarth and Kristen Alderson in brand new roles? They might have to!

Multiple sources tell TV Guide Magazine that the trio of former One Life to Live stars — who've been embroiled in a tug-of-war between ABC and Prospect Park, the company that's producing the upcoming OLTL reboot — will soon return to GH after being forced to vacate the show for several weeks.

But here's the kicker: It seems we'll no longer see Easton as John McBain, ditto Howarth as Todd Manning or Alderson as Todd's daughter Starr. ABC doesn't want to risk any more legal entanglements with Prospect Park, which currently owns the rights to all OLTL characters, and the only way to do that is to have the three stars play characters that in no way resemble the current ones. Word is, GH head writer Ron Carlivati is devising some clever ways to work around the headache, even though John, Todd and Starr are now tightly woven into Port Charles society and all three are involved in blooming romances. 

"Prospect Park has been extremely difficult to deal with on this issue so GH basically said, 'Screw it! We'll create all new characters!'" notes one source privy to the situation. "It's the only way GH can get past the problem and get on with business."

Neither GH nor ABC will confirm this wild development, but no one's denying it, either. "I can't really comment for legal reasons," says GH exec producer Frank Valentini. "It's not like I'm trying to keep a secret. [ABC] doesn't want me to say anything." We also asked ABC Daytime chief Vicki Dummer to comment on the matter but she only coughed up a cryptic, "All I can really say right now is...stay tuned."

Waiting for the fur to stop flying "has been crazy," says Thom Racina, one of the head writers of the new OLTL. "First it was, 'Yes, we have these actors,' then it was, 'No, we don't have them.' I don't know that any show has ever gone through this kind of thing before. It's a very unique situation what with all these legal issues between the [two parties] but we came out of it very happily. You'll see."

We have no doubt that Carlivati —whose work on GH has been simply stellar — is the perfect guy to pull off this magic trick. Besides, if we soap fans can accept evil twins and peeps coming back from the dead, we can certainly get past a few sudden identity changes, right?

"I think it's going to turn out well for everybody," Racina says of the brouhaha. "The soap audience, as we know, is very forgiving."

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