Deep Soap: And The Emmy Goes To…

By Sara A. Bibel


We Need A Recount
It’s Daytime Emmy week. I’ll be covering the Red Carpet, doing my best to get you the scoop. I have many fond memories of Emmy weeks past, especially when the show was in New York and Y&R would shut down for a week so we could travel back East. For a few days I actually felt like a soap opera character, getting dressed up and going to parties every night. This year I get to experience the Emmys as a member of the soap press. It will be exciting and a little bitter sweet.

I’ve got to rant about the voting process this year. A lot of the nominees are real head scratchers. Actors who had outstanding years were overlooked while some who are at best mediocre up for the statue. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Almost every year there’s at least one Emmy winner that causes viewers at home to start cursing at the TV screen. The nominees are heavily skewed in favor of CBS, with ABC virtually shut out in the acting categories. Since ABC is broadcasting the show, that should be interesting.

In the past, the Emmys had a round of voting to determine the nominees followed by a round of voting for the winners. This year it was combined into one round. The top scoring nominee will be the winner. It’s the equivalent of skipping the November election and picking our president based on who has the most votes in the primaries. NATAS, (the New York branch of the television academy who oversees the Daytime Emmys) should be ashamed of itself for coming up with this system. It undercuts what little credibility the awards have left.

The Creative Arts Emmys were held last week. There were ties in two categories – Art Direction and Original Song. That probably wouldn’t have happened if there were multiple rounds of voting. (Although last year there was the embarrassing tie for best show.) I hope that next year NATAS gets its act together and figures out a fair voting system.

The Daytime Emmys seem to be going the way of daytime itself. Once popular enough to merit a primetime slot during May sweeps, the show is now relegated to summer. There’s talk that it will be relegated to SoapNet soon. Tickets to the ceremony are still available. Part of this is due to the overall decline of soap opera ratings. But for years the Daytime Emmys thrived for a very peculiar reason: Susan Lucci’s epic losing streak. It became the dominant narrative of the show, a sort of soap opera about soap operas. Every year, Lucci’s quest for the Emmy generated mainstream press, with everyone from late night talk show hosts to print journalists adding to the hype. Plenty of people who weren’t soap fans tuned in just to see if this would be her year. Of course, this was unfair to all of the other actresses whose wins were overshadowed by the story of Lucci. Once she won, the show lost its narrative. People stopped paying attention. The ceremonies themselves became less focused on the genre, with an increasing number of presenters from primetime. It sends a signal that even on a night celebrating the best of soaps, daytime is inferior. Like the rest of daytime, the Emmys need to figure out what they need to do to generate audience interest. I’m no expert on awards shows, but it seems to me that nominating the right people would be a good start.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts on how the Daytime Emmys could be improved.

My Emmy Picks

It is inherently ridiculous to judge a years worth of work on two episodes, but that’s how the system works. I, however, am going to take the whole year into consideration. With those caveats, my votes go to:

Lead Actor:

Peter Bergman (Jack, “Y&R”),
David Canary (Adam, “All My Children”),
Anthony Geary (Luke, “GH”),
Christian J. LeBlanc (Michael, “Y&R”),
Thaao Penghlis (Tony/Andre, “Days of Our Lives”)

This is by far the best chosen group of nominees. Every one of these actors is deserving. I’m going with Bergman because he managed the difficult task of keeping Jack strong and rootable despite writing that often painted him as inept and evil. Bergman has the ability to make viewers feel what Jack is feeling.

Lead Actress:

Maura West (ATWT)
Crystal Chappell (GL)
Nicole Forester (GL)
Michelle Stafford (Y&R)
Jeanne Cooper (Y&R)

Chappell was riveting as her character dealt with the memories of a long-suppressed rape. She managed to portray Olivia’s turmoil without ever turning her into a victim.

Supporting Actress:

Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren, “Y&R”),
Judi Evans (ex-Bonnie/Adrienne, “Days”),
Kelley Menighan Hensley (Emily, “ATWT”),
Gina Tognoni (Dinah, “GL”),
Heather Tom (Katie, “The Bold and the Beautiful”).

Another strong category. Tognoni was heartbreaking and naturalistic in a storyline in which her character suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Supporting Actor:

Daniel Cosgrove (Bill, “GL”),
Trent Dawson (Henry, “ATWT”),
Brian Kerwin (Charlie, “One Life to Live”),
Greg Rikaart (Kevin, “Y&R”),
Kristoff St. John (Neil, “Y&R”)

This is Kerwin’s first year on OLTL. From day one, he has brought a refreshing naturalism to the role of recovering alcoholic Charlie. Playing an “every man” on a soap is tough. It’s hard to stand out amongst all the louder, more over-the top characters. But Kerwin commands every scene he’s in.

Younger Actress:

Vail Bloom (Heather, “Y&R”),
Jennifer Landon (ex-Gwen, “ATWT”),
Rachel Melvin (Chelsea, “Days”),
Emily O’Brien (Jana, “Y&R”),
Tammin Sursok (Colleen, “Y&R”)

This is one of the weirdest categories. General Hospital’s Kristen Storms and One Life To Live’s Brittany Underwood are glaring omissions. But I was thrilled to see Rachel Melvin recognized for the great work she did. She skillfully transformed Chelsea from a one-note villainesss to a flawed but realistic and rootable young woman.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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