"General Hospital" came to Atlantic City, "because we didn't want to cheat the audience," Balme said, "We wanted a real Atlantic City story."
The episodes, which involve a Boardwalk fortune teller, T-shirt shop and snack shop; plus bus tourists, gambling, money laundering and murder, will air on Channel 6 Sept. 8, 10, 11, 12 and 15.
From 7:30 a.m. to late afternoon, police cordoned off portions of the Boardwalk between Caesars Atlantic City Hotel Casino and Convention Hall. The fictional Frisco Jones, played by pop singer Jack Wagner, and his wife Felicia (Kristina Malandro) check in at Caesars, and Convention Hall is transformed into the insidious warehouse of the fictious Atlantic City Tumble Dry Company.
Police also blocked off part of the beach around the Ocean One pier, where genteel Edna Hit (Lenka Peterson) dispatches the notorious Tessie (Elsa Raven).
A crowd of about 400 craned their necks to catch glimpses of Wagner and Malandro, who were too busy working to sign many autographs. At one point, Frankie Avalon, who was performing at Caesars, stopped by to say hello.
All the attention, at least among the younger fans, was aimed at Wagner. Earlier in the shoot, Wagner expressed consternation when a wardrobe man misplaced his diamond earring. "That's all I need," Wagner groaned. "To lose my diamond in New Jersey."
On the sidelines, Amy Ecksel and Jennifer Mesure, both 14 and from Langhorne, admitted proudly they had been on the Boardwalk since 5 a.m. to bask in Wagner's floodlit glow.
They sported Jack Wagner T-shirts, Jack Wagner buttons, a We Love You Jack and Kristina sign, pieces of a towel Wagner used to mop his face during a Valley Forge Music Fair concert last March, and said an entire room of Amy's house was devoted to Jack Wagner memorabilia.
By 11:30 a.m., they were still waiting, but Mara Blackman, 13, from Huntingdon Valley, who showed up at 5:30 a.m., said she managed to touch the soap star. "Our sweat glands are one," she cooed.
"I will never, ever watch a soap opera again!" declared Atlantic City resident Amy Stevens, 22. "I got up a 6 o'clock, burned my fingers ironing my clothes, put on my make-up, spent $7 on a roll of film, and I didn't even get an autograph!"
Ben Bencivenga, location manager on the shoot, reported that all was going smoothly. "We had no problems with any of the people on the Boardwalk, though the owner of the T-shirt shop did want Wagner's autograph for his daughter."
Wagner gave out more than 200 autographs Monday, Bencivenga revealed, when the cast was rehearsing the shoot.