Feeling soapy

'General Hospital' star is Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival's grand marshal

'General Hospital' star is Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival's grand marshal

October 15, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Being a soap opera hunk has its perks. St. Louis native Brandon Barash got to throw out the first pitch at the Oct. 3 Cardinals game.

But it also has its drawbacks.

Barash said a lot of "General Hospital" fans have reacted negatively recently after his character, mobster Johnny Zacchara, got rough with his sister.

Zacchara grabbed his sister firmly and threatened to hit her, Barash explained.

Barash said he understands fans' reactions and doesn't condone Zacchara's behavior, but it's part of the story.

"TV deals with a lot of social issues," Barash said.

"I love playing this role because it really makes you search deep down. ... It really makes you look for those demons and you have to justify why these people act this way, because in their minds they're completely justified. In their mind, what they're doing is not wrong," he said.

Barash said he's looking forward to meeting fans during the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. Barash is the celebrity grand marshal and former NBA star Spud Webb is the celebrity sports marshal.


Barash, who has also appeared on "NCIS" and "Gilmore Girls," will make four appearances during the festival, which starts today and continues through Sunday.

Ed Wilson, chairman of publicity and advertising for the festival, said the celebrity marshals draw a big crowd. He expects Heritage Hall to be packed Saturday night for the Grand Ball and thousands of people usually attend the Grand Feature Parade, which begins at 1 p.m. Saturday in downtown Martinsburg.

Barash, who lives in Los Angeles, said he loves meeting fans. "It's nice to meet the people who keep our show on the air," he said.

The soap opera industry has faced the challenge of declining viewership as soaps compete with more TV options such as talk shows. "Guiding Light" went off the air in September after 72 years on TV and radio. In recent years, several soap stars have been forced to take pay cuts or lose their jobs, according to published reports. Just this month, "The Young and the Restless" star Eric Braeden announced he was leaving the soap after Sony demanded he take a pay cut and hadn't responded to his counteroffer.

Barash said he has a good gig on "General Hospital," which has experienced an uptick in ratings in recent weeks.

"All I can do is put one foot out in front of the other and take it one day at a time and enjoy it while it's here," he said.

He's still focused on the goal of the 30-year plan he formulated upon graduating college - to write, direct or star in his own films. The genre doesn't matter as long as they are good stories, he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 15, through Sunday, Oct. 18

WHERE: Various locations in the Eastern Panhandle, including War Memorial Park, Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds, downtown Martinsburg, and Charles Town Races & Slots.

COST: Many events are free; some events have an admission fee.

MORE: For a complete schedule, go to For more information, call 304-263-2500 or e-mail

Festival highlights

Actor Brandon Barash and former NBA star Spud Webb will be at the following events, either together or individually:

Bob Elmer-Rotary Sports Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at Holiday Inn, Foxcroft Avenue in Martinsburg. Tickets cost $15. Advance tickets recommended.

Soroptimist Grand Ball, 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, to 1 a.m. Sunday, at Heritage Hall, U.S. 11, next to Musselman High School in Inwood, W.Va. Tickets are $30 per person (includes hors d'oeuvres). Cash bar. Semi-formal attire. Music by Rick K. and the Allnighters. Advance tickets recommended.

The Grand Feature Parade, 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, in downtown Martinsburg. Rain or shine. The parade starts on West King Street, turns left on North Raleigh Street, right on North Martin Street, and right on North Queen Street.

Arts and crafts, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, at Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds, Golf Course Road outside Martinsburg. More than 135 juried crafters, food and entertainment by local high school choruses and the Banjo Man. Admission is $3; free for ages 6 and younger. Celebrity guests Barash and Webb will be available from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday for autographs and photographs.

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