The Surprises, the Thank You's, the Camaraderie, the Winners!
CBS Primetime Pulled Out the Stops for Daytime
David Canary surprised the audience at the 32nd Annual Daytme Emmy Awards when he popped out of a trashcan next to Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch. The actor played on the humor of the situation, saying to his co-presenter, “This is the closest I’ve ever been to an Oscar!”
The Daytime Emmy’s may not be the esteemed Academy Awards (or “Oscar’s”); however the awards ceremony, which aired Friday, May 20 on CBS, was unique in its own way with the sense of community and congeniality it projected to viewers.
Watching the broadcast, it was consistently evident that there is a tremendous amount of inter-colleague respect within the daytime television industry, and especially the soap opera genre. Although specific individuals were honored for their respective achievement, trophy winner after trophy winner acknowledged their fellow soap producers, directors, writers, and actors who have guided and inspired them in their daily work. And yet, as flattered and thrilled as the honorees were for the recognition of their craft, the overriding theme of the evening was sincere and profuse gratitude to the fans.
What other formal awards show includes the fans by holding a simultaneous online poll for “Most Irresistible Combination” on a soap opera? Once the tallies were in on cbs.com, trophies were presented to Guiding Light’s Gus and Harley, Ricky Paull Goldin and Beth Ehlers, who made a particularly giddy acceptance speech.
Based on the all of the speeches made by presenters and award acceptors, daytime drama series take a lot of pride in providing entertainment for fans five days a week, 52 weeks a year. And they seemed keenly aware that for all the time, work, and passion they put into providing the supply, the fans’ loyal demand is what enables soap stars to have the jobs they love so much. Entertainment is an interdependent system between fans and performers, and at a time when soap ratings are dwindling, the Daytime Emmy’s broadcast was an opportunity to call out to fans and tell them how appreciated they truly are. It’s not that the actors were pleading for sustained viewer ratings, but that they were inviting fans to participate in their love and respect for their genre.
Several cries of homage went out to William J. Bell, the longtime producer and writer of the Young and the Restless and the Bold and the Beautiful who recently passed. Y&R stars Shemar Moore and Sharon Case pointed out that Bill Bell contributed to the writing of every single episode of their show for 25 years: “That’s 6250 episodes,” marveled Moore. For a primetime writer to write that many shows into production would take 280 years!”
Four-time Emmy winner Susan Flannery, “Stephanie Forrester” on B&B and nominee for best lead actress, introduced the formal tribute that was played to Bell and his family, saying, “Such a storyteller shall not pass this way again.”
Bell’s powerful influence was felt by younger as well as older generations of soap actors. Greg Rikaart, who won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as Kevin Fisher on Y&R, kindly addressed Bell’s children who were present at the ceremony and said, “I am so honored to be a part of your father’s legacy.”
It was Rikaart’s first nomination in the category, and he only joined the Y&R cast in 2003. The trophy for the female parallel to Rikaart’s award went out the equally fresh Natalia Livingston, who also joined her cast in 2003 to play General Hospital’s Emily Quartermaine.
Still, two of the most memorable acceptance speeches of the night were made by even younger actors. David Lago, winner for Outstanding Younger Actor as Raul Guittierez on Y&R, emphasized the demand for strength and determination to succeed in his craft by telling a fable of two mice who fall into a bucket of cream. He explained that one of the mice stays determined and struggles to survive in that bucket of cream for so long, he ends up churning it into butter and is able to climb off of the newly solid surface. “I am that second mouse,” he proclaimed. Sweet butter, we hope as the win was exceptionally sweet to Lago, whose character was recently written off Y&R.
When Eden Riegel, Bianca Montgomery on AMC, received her trophy for Outstanding Younger Actress, she called it “the cherry on top of [her] most exquisite experience on All My Children.” And as she thanked several people, including her parents, she made a special note to express her gratitude “to Susan [Lucci], my second mom.” Although Lucci’s Erica Kane plays mother to Riegel’s Bianca, Reigel seemed to be referencing a real-life bond that the actresses share.
Within that same theme of respect and friendship among actors, sixth-time winner Erika Slezak (Victoria Lord Davidson on OLTL) praised the decency of each of her contemporaries in the Best Lead Actress category, which had a record-breaking eight nominees this year. She recalled, “We all had lunch together yesterday. We spent four and a half hours together laughing – I thought they were going to kick us out of the restaurant.”
The women in this category were also honored with a serenade by “Il Divo,” the classical singing quartet produced by American Idol judge Simon Cowell. The group’s dramatic, operatic rendition of “Unchained Melody,” accompanied by a medley of silent images of the actresses, earned a standing ovation from a gracious audience.
The evening concluded with the presentation of the best drama series award to General Hospital, which has won this award more than any other drama in daytime history and also took home the honor for Outstanding Directing Team. While the live broadcast cut off GH’s concluding acceptance speech, there were several remarks made throughout the show that captured the prevailing sentiments of the evening.
Noting the zeal within the daytime community, Stockard Channing (named Outstanding Performer In A Children/Youth/Family Special) pronounced, “All I can say is… I thought nighttime was supposed to be hot, but daytime seems to be where it’s at!”
In regards to the commitment daytime teams have to producing their shows, Best Talk Show Host Ellen DeGeneres humorously stated the obvious: “A daily show means you have to do a show every day.”
And it’s because of the fans that those daily shows and the daytime community have come to be what they are today. According to Lifetime Achievement honoree Merv Griffin, “Daytime television didn’t used to be like this. We used to all come in our coveralls.”
Finally, when Susan Flannery spoke of William Bell, she said that his passing “portends the passing of an era.” If Flannery was implying that soaps have had their day, then it is up to the fans to continue to prove that the soap community is still very much alive.
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