Inside the Emmy Pre-Show with Mimi Torchin, Todd Newton, Tom O'Neil and the Dazzling Stars of Daytime!
by Linda Marshall-Smith
Who was with who? Who arrived first? Who arrived too late? Where were the majority of the ABC stars? Where did B&B get that red double-decker tour bus? (Who knows, but it sure made one heck of an entrance!) And the most important question: Where was the closest ladies room? (When you're working in the sun all day, drinking bottled water after bottled water, information like that is crucial to your well being. But I digress!) Imagine standing three feet from everyone who is anyone in Daytime television, and being the only official person with a 35 mm camera on the platform! What an experience! What an evening.
It began about 1 PM Friday afternoon, May 21, 1999. As I arrived on site at Madison Square Garden, fans were already gathering on either side of the Red Carpet. The E! Entertainment Pre-Show platform was being rigged just to the side of the main entrance to the Theater. For mid May, the weather was unseasonably warm, extremely sunny, and typically NYC humid. Black velvet was probably not the most sensible choice, but it was the only dressy dress I brought from LA. Mimi Torchin likewise wore velvet, and both of us suffered for it. It was, as Mimi remarked to first guest Heather Tom, "about 400 degrees in the shade!" "A beautiful 427 degrees Fahrenheit here in NYC," Todd Newton echoed later in the show, "and we are just warming up!"
The E! PreShow crew tested the satellite uplink, the sound relays, the microphones. The show would be fed back to LA via satellite, and broadcast from the WestCoast. It was shot live-to-tape, meaning what you saw on television is pretty much the way it happened, except it happened several hours before you saw it. The first stars were scheduled to arrive between 4:00 and 4:30 PM EDT. At 3:30, Mimi Torchin, Editor-in-Chief of Soap Opera Weekly Magazine, and Todd Newton, host extraordinaire for the E! Entertainment Network, were rehearsing for the camera as they were being equipped with microphones. Although the TelePrompTer was shaded by "showcard" (a thick black cardboard that has a myriad of uses on the set), the E! PreShow hosts were forced to face directly into the sun which made reading the TelePrompTer almost impossible. As this was the prime position for the platform to be, Mimi and Todd were troupers and dealt with the sun glare, although "squinting" was unavoidable.
The third host, Emmy expert and author of Variety's "The Emmy's," Tom O'Neil, was stationed among the fans to get their reaction. "Who are you rooting for?" he called out. "Lucci, Lucci, Lucci!" the fans screamed. "Lucci!"
Surprisingly, there were not that many fans. I expected hundreds. Thousands. Most of the people lining the Red Carpet were journalists and photographers. There were more commuters on their way to and from Penn Station, which occupies the lower levels of Madison Square Garden, than there were fans. One commuter asked: "What's going on here?" "The daytime Emmy's," I replied. She simply shrugged and descended the stairs to the Amtrak Terminal.
The PreShow platform was small at about 12' x 12'. Between the cameras and other equipment, the various technical personal, myself and the stage manager, there was barely any room for the hosts and their guests. To complicate matters, Todd Newton is a strapping 6'2" at least. Mimi Torchin is a petite 5'2" tops. In an effort to ameliorate the height discrepancies, Mimi was relegated to standing on an apple box, a small 1.5' X 2' area, which inhibited her mobility even further. As the stars began lining up to talk with Mimi and Todd, there was confusion as to mounting and leaving the platform. E! PreShow Executive Producer, Antonio Ruiz, escorted guests from the platform himself.
First guest Heather Tom set the fashion tone for the rest of the evening. The "look" for this year's Emmys was definitely off-the-shoulder or strapless. Mimi suggested that Heather was architecturally "in" her dress. "Oh, I'm not going anywhere," Heather replied.
Jess Walton was just happy to be here and not have to worry about presenting or winning. "I'm wearing a comfortable dress and I don't have to do anything."
Camryn Gimmes said to evoke tears in her emotional scenes, she thinks of her "Guardian Angel," Heather Martin, who died a year ago.
Melody Thomas Scott, who submitted Y&R to the Guinness Book of World Records as getting the most Emmy Nominations in one year, was pleased Y&R received that record number, but was happier about getting nominated herself for the first time in her 20-year run on the show.
Austin Peck's date was his mom, but he joined Sarah Buxton (Annie, Sunset Beach) to chat with Mimi and Todd. Many of the stars, including Cassandra Creech and Martha Byrne had to hug E! Stage Manager, Tom McNamara, an obvious favorite with the Daytime illuminaire, and Mimi suggested that she and Louise Sorel catch a movie sometime soon.
Suddenly, Susan Lucci was spotted on the Red Carpet. She made her way to Tom O'Neil who began an interview. Like I always say, technology is grand except when it doesn't work. For some strange reason, Tom's microphone went dead. There he was interviewing the star of the evening, and no one could hear anything. It took producers several minutes to cut back to Todd and Mimi, where Todd, in a streak of sheer brilliance uttered: "Well, I don't know about you, but I could hear what they were saying and it was great!" The production team did rectify the problem and we cut back to Tom and Susan, who was as gracious as ever as Tom said: "It looks like it's going to be between you and Kim Zimmer, " and Susan replied: "I'm sure Kim's work is wonderful!"
Back to the platform where Todd and Mimi interviewed Stuart Damon who is a jovial, happy-go-lucky man, and breaks into laughter at the slightest provocation. A far cry from the sometimes somber role he plays as Alan Quartermaine. Eric Braeden, on the other hand, is as staid and intense as his character, Victor Newman.
Adrienne Frantz threw her hat in the ring for a nomination next year, and the cast of Bold & Beautiful said they were having tons of fun driving around Manhattan in that red double decker bus.
From Jensen Ackles to Jerry ver Dorn, Kathleen Noone to Susan Lucci, Linda Dano to Jason George, Lezza Gibbons to Bob Barker, stars from all the daytime shows stopped by the E! platform to chat with Mimi and Todd. Donny Osmond took the show to commercial at one point. Everyone was having a great time, despite the humidity. Some stars either missed seeing us, or preferred not to be interviewed. Ingo Rademacher and Erika Slezak were among those I saw enter the Theater without stopping to say hello. Perhaps the line was too long? Perhaps they wanted to get out of the sun? Perhaps the E! talent wranglers (show staff who were on the red carpet directing the celebrities to the E! platform) just could not spot everyone in time. At one point, there were quite a few stars waiting to be interviewed. "They're lining up for blocks," Mimi remarked. It got to a point where E!'s producers had to "bunch" them together to move things along. Mimi and Todd were interviewing five or six cast members at once.
Before we knew it, the PreShow was over, but guests were still arriving. Robin Strasser, Rosie O'Donnell, and Vincent Izzarry were too late to get E! air time. Several stars, like Charles Keating, were interviewed by Mimi and Todd, but did not make it to air in lieu of the commercials that had to be inserted. Aside from the glitch with Tom O'Neil's microphone, everyone from E! was delighted with the way things went. Mimi, Todd and Tom said goodnight and went their separate ways as the crew wrapped out the equipment. I never saw Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos, Catherine Hickland, Michael E. Knight, David Canary, Peter Bergman, Marcy Walker, Erin Torpey, and many others primarily from the ABC lineup, who attended dinner elsewhere and arrived right before 9 PM, missing out on the Pre-Show activities which occurred between 4:30 - 6:30 PM.
For the fans who attended the Pre-Show, it was an event to be remembered. Some spent the entire afternoon in the hot sun, wearing shorts and sneakers. As the crew broke down the platform, many fans dashed home to change into more formal attire, as they likewise had tickets for the Emmy broadcast.
Inside the Garden, the stars were treated to cocktails until the Emmy Awards Dinner was served at 7 PM. By 9 PM they were seated and ready for the 26th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards show to begin.
In the June 15, 1999 issue of Soap Opera Weekly, Editor-in-Chief Mimi Torchin admits in her editorial how she really enjoys the opportunity to co-host the E! Daytime Emmy PreShow and chat with so many of her favorite people, although she stews about it internally for a month preceding the event. "It's pretty hard -- especially when you only do it once a year -- to not sound like an idiot when you're interviewing someone for 30 seconds," she writes. Pre-show jitters notwithstanding, Mimi was charming and delightful as an on-air personality. Daytime's celebrities were genuinely happy to see her.
In fact, E! PreShow Executive Producer Antonio Ruiz enjoys working with Mimi so much, he looks forward to it all year. "Mimi is essential to the show, " Ruiz says. "The stars all know her, and she knows everyone!" Ruiz continued: "For someone who doesn't do it regularly for a living, she is amazing. People who do it for a living could learn a few things from her." What most impresses Ruiz is the conversational tone in which Mimi conducts the interviews. "It's not like she is doing a question and answer, she is seeing friends and chatting with them, which makes it so much warmer for the audience at home. The stars are comfortable around her and that makes her indispensable."
Both Mimi and Todd kept the show interesting and lively. Not sure what was more enjoyable, seeing them in action, or viewing the tape of the show several days later. One thing's for sure. With Mimi and Todd on camera, the E! PreShow couldn't have been more entertaining. In the words of Linda Dano, "The (Daytime) Emmy's wouldn't be the Emmy's without you guys up here!"
|< Prev||Next >|