Busted: Emmy Oversights
The Daytime Emmys failed to award several deserving performances this year.
The Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy was won by Christian LeBlanc (Michael, Y&R) for the third time in five years. It's time for Emmy voters to spread the love around. The more obvious choice was
Peter Reckell (Bo, Days). Reckell has toiled on Days for over 20 years and this was his first nomination. He had some of the best material in his entire career this year, portraying the aftermath of his character's beloved father's death.
The Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy was won by Susan Haskell (Marty, OLTL). Even though she won last year, I still would have chosen Jeanne Cooper (Katherine, Y&R) for the win. I usually don't like when actors win back to back years, or even every other year, but in this instance, it was earned. Cooper starred in a front burner storyline for months, playing not one, but two characters, and she did so at the age of 80 - an age when her contemporaries are trotted out once a year for holiday episodes. Cooper acted circles around actors half her age, and should have been recognized for it. She is like a fine wine - she just gets better each year.
The Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy was won by Tamara Braun (ex-Ava, Days) in a decision I don't understand at all. Braun was good in the six months she was on Days, but her body of work doesn't even begin to compare to that of Bree Williamson (Jessica, OLTL). Williamson played three roles while her character suffered from DID (dissociative identity disorder). Williamson was able to tap into her full range as an actress first as Jessica, who suffered the loss of her stillborn baby; then as Tess, the fiery alter ego who emerged to protect Jessica from the truth by stealing her cousin's baby; and finally as Bess, the gatekeeper in charge of all the personalities. It truly was the breakout performance of the year, and Williamson single handily made OLTL worth tuning in every day.
While the three actors mentioned above were the most egregiously overlooked, the telecast itself failed to capitalize on the buzz generated outside of soaps by some of daytime's most famous faces. Cameron Mathison (Ryan, AMC) was a presenter, but he should have played a larger role in the broadcast, as he's now known for his roles on Dancing with the Stars as well as a correspondent on Good Morning America. Absent completely were Alison Sweeney (Sami, Days) and Ashley Jones (Bridget, Y&R). Sweeney is the host of the hit primetime show, "The Biggest Loser," in addition to her longtime role on Days. While appearing on B&B, Jones starred as Daphne, in a memorable eight episode arc of the summer's hottest show, "True Blood" on HBO. Shouldn't these actors have been showcased prominently to illustrate the depth of daytime actors?
Blissful: A Few Bright Spots
The highlight of the broadcast was a clip package featuring Susan Lucci (Erica, AMC), Tony Geary (Luke, GH), Kelly Monaco (Sam, GH), and Montel Williams. It provided a glimpse into their recent trip to Kenya with the Feed the Children organization. Watching their reaction to the poverty they encountered was touching, and felt like we were eavesdropping on a private moment. A frazzled and unmade up Lucci said it best, "I didn't really get it until I got here. I thought I did, but I didn't." It was also very moving to see Geary interacting with abandoned and orphaned babies with tears streaming down his face. This was a great respite from the triviality of awards shows in general, and a reminder that daytime can and does give back with both their time and money.
One of my favorite award moments this year was Julie Berman (Lulu, GH) winning the Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actress. I thought she should have won last year, so it was great to see her finally recognized. She has the daunting task of playing the daughter of daytime legends Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis), and never wavers in her total dedication to the character. She doesn't disappear in her scenes with these daytime greats, and can go toe to toe with them when required. She is a remarkable find for GH. They'll be lucky to hold on to her since she has recently filmed a primetime pilot.
Another moment I enjoyed during this year's broadcast was Susan Haskell's (Marty, OLTL) acceptance speech for Outstanding Lead Actress. Haskell gave the best speech of the night, thanking OLTL's executive producer, Frank Valentini, for "making it work and realizing a kindergarten performance is important." She tearfully expressed her gratitude saying, "the show pretty much gave me my life. It introduced me to that man over there, some of you know him as Zach Slater (a reference to partner Thorsten Kaye, Zach, AMC)." Haskell went on to talk about her family, "McKenna, more than anything ever, Marlowe, I love you, and will try to get Sesame Street autographs as best I can." Her speech was touching, warm and personal, and allowed us a rare moment of genuine emotion in night of excess.
I also think Vanessa Williams (aside from the one obvious blunder of performing a second song and dance number when the show was low on time) did a great job as host. Hosting is a thankless job, and she made it seem like she was having fun. Her opening montage inserting herself into clips from daytime shows is an instant classic, and was the YouTube moment of the night. Even though someone connected to daytime might have been a better choice initially, Williams proved she is a pro who is adept at live TV. I would not be opposed to having her back to host the Daytime Emmys next year.
Lesleyann Coker is a reporter and monthly opinion columnist for Soapdom.com. She is also the co-author of Boob Tube, a forthcoming novel that goes behind the scenes of the soap opera industry. The book is available in ebook form at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3 . She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine.
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