Honeymoon In Vegas:
Last-minute Altar-ation: Everyone's in stitches when Chloe and Ned's Las
Vegas wedding hits a snag
It's not exactly the best-laid plan, but Chloe's 11th hour attempt to retain ownership of her fashion design company unravels in a big way this week on General Hospital.
Chloe must marry to fulfill the terms of her Uncle Herbert's will; he doesn't want her to sacrifice her personal life for business. If she misses the deadline, Herbert's widow, Gertrude, will get the company. Herbert "was a horse. He was never supposed to go down," Tava Smiley (Chloe) says, laughing. "When he put it in his will, I don't think Chloe believed he meant it. It was more of a stipulation to make her think about things."
As the deadline loomed -- and with greedy Aunt Gertrude poised to claim the company -- Jax had let it be known, through Alexis, that he'd be willing to be Chloe's groom of convenience, but "it was just way too premature to try to fake a marriage with someone you are really interested in," Smiley says, explaining why Chloe rejected that option but agreed to marry Ned. "She says to Ned, 'I trust that you are doing this with good intentions and that you are a good person. As much as I don't want to put you in a bad predicament, this is something I really need and I believe you are doing it with the best heart. So I accept. I gratefully accept.'"
Ned's offer is altruistic -- to a point. "I think Ned sees Chloe as someone who's sort of caught in the same position he is -- and Alexis is, too, for that matter -- on the outskirts of the family. I'm an Ashton, not even a Quartermaine," says Wally Kurth (Ned), in character. "I'm always having to prove myself, and always seem to be underappreciated. The fact that Uncle Herbert would do this to Chloe makes me really sensitive to that, and I'm willing to do what I can to help her out. And I'm not in any hurry to get married to Alexis."
Alexis isn't champing at the bit to become Mrs. Ned Ashton, either, so him becoming Chloe's husband for the will-stipulated one year gives her some breathing room, too. "I did wonder why this would be OK with her," Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) says of her character's reaction to Ned's offer, adding that Chloe's situation "obviously has been set up so that it's one of those things where everyone has to jump in and just start swimming and splashing. But Alexis does mention briefly that she has a lot of confidence [in her and Ned's relationship] and suggests that the two of them are not interested in getting married. I love playing a woman who doesn't jump at the chance of getting married, because that's very unstereotypical of the way we're portrayed. I think there's a lot of women who don't have any urgency or desire to be married. Alexis and Ned both come from really screwy families; I don't think they've ever seen a marriage as something you would want to run off and do."
Cut to Las Vegas: Aunt Gertrude bursts into the wedding chapel and declares that she will challenge Chloe and Ned's shotgun wedding. Jax saves the day -- or does he? -- when he quickly corrects Gertrude: He and Alexis are getting married -- and Chloe and Ned are simply their witnesses. "I think rhetorically my mouth falls open," Smiley says in character. "I am kind of shocked, but I play along. She knows it is all for show, she knows it doesn't mean anything, but she is still a woman who has strong feelings for someone, and it is still hard to see Jax even putting his arms around Alexis. She tries to override it with her common sense, but it is a woman thing." Ned is a little put-off, too, Kurth says. "That was not part of the deal. It sort of reminded me of when Jax tried to move in on Lois. Jax seems to put his hat in, you know. I feel secure that Alexis will remain true to me; that's not a problem. But still, having Jax paw her, it kind of ranks me a little bit." "I think Alexis really likes Jax," Grahn adds. "They have fun and she teases him; I don't think there's anyone that teases him like that."
More than teasing in private will be needed to pull off this charade in public, however. "The Quartermaines play it very well," Grahn notes. "It's like, 'What are you up to?' And we're like, 'Oh, nothing.' And then Jax's mother comes and she's just so delighted she has a daughter-in-law, and she takes me hiking uphill." Everyone is equally shocked at Ned and Chloe's engagement. Later, Ned and Chloe tell a worried Lila the truth, and she vows to help them pull off the ruse.
"It's a bit like A Midsummer Night's Dream," Grahn adds, "and what greater set-up is there than that? Here is a situation that is not only fun -- everyone is with the wrong person -- but a lot of things can happen." Smiley agrees. "I think that on any level when men and women spend time together there are a certain amount of feelings that are bound to come up between people. I think Chloe adores Ned and cares for him on a deep level, but she is also a romantic and really sees the love between him and Alexis. She is also in her space with Jax, but she thinks Ned is very handsome and charming and a wonderful human being. In another situation, in another life -- who knows? They also haven't had the opportunity to be really alone, so who knows."
Who knows is something Kurth knows first-hand. (His romance and marriage to Rena Sofer followed the course of their on-screen relationship as Ned and Lois.) "I was telling the actors the other day about how often actors fall in love with each other and play all of these love scenes and the next thing you know, they're in love. And not only that, marriages have been ruined at home, and then people who are single end up falling in love. It happens all the time, and it could very well happen to us."
* -- Linda Susman