Why The Daytime Emmy Pre-Nominations Should Be Eliminated

Last Friday, the list of Daytime Emmy pre-nominations was released. For the uninitiated, annually each soap internally selects two actors to be the show’s potential nominees in each acting category. Those chosen go on the official ballot and submit tapes of their work, which are watched by a panel of judges who determine the actual nominees and winners.

In what has become an annual ritual, fans took to the Internet to proclaim that many of the wrong actors were nominated and that other actors who did great work in 2010 were unfairly snubbed. For example, although Gina Tognoni is an outstanding actress who thoroughly deserved the supporting actress Daytime Emmys she won for her work on “Guiding Light,” her inclusion as one of the lead actress nominees on “One Life to Live” this year is baffling. She did not even have a storyline. How was she given the nod over Florencia Lozano who was a standout as she portrayed Tea bravely suffering through what she believed was a terminal illness. Other notable omissions included “The Young & the Restless’s” Melody Thomas Scott and “General Hospital‘s'” Kimberly McCullough.

Watch a “General Hospital” Sneak Peek:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/General-Hospital/97378/1825038085/Sneak-Peek:-Wed,-Mar-2,-2011/embed 580 476]

This is one time that the conventional wisdom is right. It’s time for the Television Academy to abolish the pre-nomination process. It was launched with the best of intentions. Daytime Emmy nominees used to be chosen by a simple ballot that was sent to all members of the daytime acting branch of the academy. Since most were not regular viewers of every soap, the most well known performers, like Susan Lucci tended be nominated almost every year regardless of whether they had a major storyline or gave a great performance. Less known performers who had delivered the goods were often overlooked. The thinking was that the cast of each show would be knowledgeable about who was most deserving in a given year. Unfortunately, working on a daytime soap is sometimes like attending a high school where every single student is attractive enough to get voted onto the homecoming court. It has, in some cases, become something of a popularity contest. That does not mean that the actors who were selected are not well liked by their peers. Given that fewer that fifty people vote from each show, only a couple of votes may separate those selected from those who were omitted. Some actors really want to win an Emmy, and subtly campaign for votes. Others don’t particularly care. That can impact the results. So can a perception, however inaccurate, about who is most likely to win an Emmy once the voting pool expands. None of this should factor into the nomination process.

Another problem with the process is that each show gets the same number of pre-nominations. Let’s face facts: some soaps have stronger casts than others. “One Life To Live,” “General Hospital” and “The Young & the Restless” could each singlehandedly fill a few categories. The same can not be said of “Days of Our Lives“, which often casts beautiful but less experienced performers. In the old days, there were sometimes three nominees from the same show in a category. A show should not be penalized with fewer nominations than it deserves because it has a great cast. In the primetime Emmys, shows are allowed to submit their entire casts for consideration. Strong ensembles like “Modern Family” do it all the time.

In fact, the Daytime Emmys could help solve the problem by emulating their primetime counterpart’s nomination process. The studios and networks send screeners to members of the academy of virtually every show on television, even those so obscure or niche that they are extraordinarily unlikely to win a nomination.  While the primetime Emmys still can get it wrong — sci-fi and fantasy shows are almost never recognized — voters are given ample opportunities to make informed voting decisions. Unfortunately, daytime cannot afford to send out screeners. However, some networks also make episodes available on-line via a website set up by the Academy, that can be accessed by voters via a code.  Surely a similar website could be set up for the Daytime Emmys that would allow every performer who wanted to be considered to submit reels. I think that if actors could easily watch performers from other shows reels on-line from their dressing rooms while waiting to tape their scenes, the majority of them would, and would take the voting process more seriously than they do now. The future of the Daytime Emmys continues to be in jeopardy. A better nomination process would hopefully result in more of the actors that deserve to be recognize being nominated, which would give fans more of a reason to tune in to the telecast.

Question of the Week?

On Tuesday, why was “The Young & the Restless’s” Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott), wearing Rachel Berry’s “Gleeheadband? I realize that her relationship with the younger Deacon (Sean Kanan) has her feeling youthful, but that was no reason for her to wander around Genoa City with a red, apparently plastic, headband. She is a leading lady, not a geeky teen.

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

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