For TV fans, half the fun of watching an awards show is to see those special moments that make us laugh, cry, cheer and jeer. Unfortunately, the 2007 Daytime Emmy Awards telecast was a decidedly dull affair, nearly devoid of such memorable moments.
Aside from Genie Francis’ (Laura, GH) win for Outstanding Supporting Actress after 31 years in the business, there wasn’t much to celebrate. Her win came three minutes into the show, and after that, it was downhill.
I’m not sure what CBS was trying to achieve with this year’s broadcast. The Emmys started early, so if you didn’t watch Bob Barker’s swan song on “The Price is Right,” you missed the intro.
If you missed the first few minutes, you were lucky, because you were spared from hearing talk show host Rachael Ray screech appalling introductions from her bleacher seat with fans. Eva LaRue was the first “star” to be spotlighted, and she hasn’t been on daytime in years. Although, she is a contract player on CBS primetime's CSI: Miami. Plug. Plug. La Rue was promptly followed by Jerry Springer, hardly a standard-bearer of the genre, and Vivica A. Fox, whom Ray felt compelled to label “Vivica A. Hottie.” What? Where were our beloved soap stars? No wonder people aren’t watching daytime if this introduction is supposed to advertise the best of what we have to offer.
Primetime would never settle for the sloppy production values showcased during this spectacle of embarrassments. The set designer somehow managed to make the classy Kodak Theater (the home of the Oscars) look tacky. What was with the shiny red patent stage floor surrounded by fans in bleachers, and the white gas station awnings on either side? The set was hideous from any angle. And don’t even get me started on the dreadful “K-mart’s Studio Blue” room where a nervous Lisa Rinna kept uttering forced laughs at her own scripted banter when no one else would.
As the show plodded along, my mind drifted to some of the more memorable Daytime Emmy Awards moments of recent history: How I laughed when Eric Braeden made the narcissistic Freudian faux pas of the century by blurting, “God Bless Eric Braeden” during a tribute to the late Bill Bell in 2005. How I cheered and cried in 1999 when Susan Lucci finally won her first Emmy after 19 nominations, announced by Shemar Moore’s famous words, “The streak is over... Susan Lucci.” How shocked and saddened I was in 2006 when the once stunningly beautiful Hunter Tylo unveiled her ghastly plastic surgery on the red carpet. And of course, there are always the more pedestrian moments spent gawking at plunging necklines that defy gravity, and outrageous fashion statements.
Unfortunately, there weren’t any fashion highs or lows to speak of this year, save for Tyra Banks’ copper colored ball gown which made her look like giant rusted pumpkin.
The daytime actresses kept the cleavage at a tasteful minimum, and saved the risqué décolletage for Rachael Ray, who looked awkward and out of place in her attempt at glamour.
The colors of the night were white, worn by numerous actresses, and salmon. Bucking the color trends were Genie Francis in a gorgeous off the shoulder rose colored gown, and Bree Williamson (Jessica, OLTL) in a short fuchsia cocktail dress.
Without any real fashion disasters to keep us entertained, that job fell to the televised clips the acting nominees selected. Out of context, they looked downright ridiculous. Will someone please tell the ladies of daytime they look foolish sobbing hysterically in a three second sound bite? Same goes with the men and their yelling.
After Heather Tom’s clip played, and the camera cut to her, she laughed apologetically and looked embarrassed. I felt embarrassed for her.
Four out of five of the Supporting Actress and Lead Actress nominees cried in their clips, while four out of five of the Supporting Actor nominees yelled in theirs. Crying and yelling. Is this what soaps have devolved to? Is this the message they want to send to a national primetime audience?
Emmy voters must support this silly strategy though, because out of the five acting category clips shown, four of the five winners fit this stereotype. The only one to bravely break the mold was Outstanding Younger Actress Winner Jennifer Landon (Gwen, ATWT).
At least the Emmys spread the wealth around in terms of the actual awards, and gave three out of six Emmys to actors who had never won before.
Besides Francis, it was high time to see Maura West rewarded with a win as Outstanding Lead Actress, for her nuanced work as Carly on ATWT. Completing the trio of first time winners was Bryton McClure as Outstanding Younger Actor, for his portrayal of Devon on Y&R. Rick Hearst won again as Outstanding Supporting Actor for his role as Ric Lansing on GH; Christian LeBlanc picked up another Outstanding Lead Actor trophy for playing Michael Baldwin on Y&R; and Landon won her category for the second consecutive year.
The women’s speeches were touching. Francis showed genuine emotion. Landon thanked her “brother and mother -- my heart, and to my Dad always” (her father is the late actor Michael Landon). West curtsied to her son from the stage.
The men’s speeches were mostly boring, except for when Hearst aptly noted, “Supporting Actor is a contradiction in terms, because it’s what all actors do.”
Most of the awards won were deserved, though Peter Bergman was robbed in the Outstanding Lead Actor category. Of course, there were several worthy actors not even nominated such as Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis, GH), Trevor St. John (Todd, OLTL) and Michael E. Knight (Tad, AMC).
Overall, of the awards shown on TV, CBS was the big winner with eight, and ABC picked up two. In one of the few surprises of the night, CBS’ GL and Y&R tied for Outstanding Drama Series.
There was another tie earlier in the evening in one of the Children’s Program categories, which brings me to another gripe. Ellen DeGeneres won for Best Talk Show and Best Talk Show Host for the third and fourth year respectively. I love Ellen, but why couldn’t there have been a tie in this category as well? Was there any better soap opera or -- daytime program for that matter -- this year than The View? The View certainly should have been recognized for its hosting, if not the show in general.
Rosie O’Donnell won six Emmys when she had her own daytime talk show, but she was more relevant, controversial and in the news this year with her eight month stint on The View than she ever was on her own. She not only put The View on the map and made it water cooler talk every day, but she increased their ratings by almost 20%. She led a vigorous and important debate about the war in Iraq while other talk show hosts were busy kissing celebrity butt. Can you imagine if a soap opera actor had the impact of a Rosie O’Donnell on their show? They would almost certainly be rewarded in this climate of diminishing daytime viewers and ratings.
Daytime fans were also short-changed in the tribute to Lee Phillip Bell, “the Oprah of her time.” As pictures flashed with Lee shown interviewing former First Ladies and celebrities, we were reminded of how big she was in her day. Not only was she a well known talk show host, but she co-created The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to hear from Lee live. Instead, we were shown a two second clip of her accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award in a non-televised ceremony, and she was allowed to stand and wave briefly from her seat. Not a nice way to treat a daytime icon and a pioneer for women’s rights.
In stark contrast, Bob Barker received considerably more airtime and tributes. While no doubt Barker has had a long and distinguished career, he has also been marred by sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuits from multiple Barker Beauties. Granted, this wasn’t the appropriate place to recall those incidents, but it still felt hypocritical to see the man venerated like he was God, especially when Bell was all but ignored.
Someone who received a lot of airtime was Ellen DeGeneres. The best quip of the night belonged to her when she said, “I’m going to say something controversial now...I think Bob Barker’s a quitter;” and Joy Behar also had a witty remark with her sarcastic, “Next year, I’m going to kill Ellen.”
Despite the overall lack of excitement throughout the show, a few spontaneous moments seeped in when things did not go according to plan. Some candid moments included the stunned look on the face of Julie Marie Berman (LuLu, GH) when she lost in the Younger Actress category and it took her a minute to regroup before she clapped; the blasé look on Tony Geary’s face when Francis acknowledged him in her acceptance speech; Barbara Walters not standing when Francis won, and visibly not knowing who she was; Kristoff St. John (Neil, Y&R) beaming when Bryton McClure (Devon, Y&R) won and the camera revealing visible Kleenex tucked into the ample cleavage of the woman sitting behind him; and Phil Donahue getting a standing ovation -- including Barbara Walters -- just for presenting.
In a strange attempt at creating buzz for the show, video segments featuring fans were interspersed throughout the broadcast. Instead, the videos lent a surreal quality to the proceedings. In particular, a fan was shown dressed up as Victor Newman (complete with Eric Braeden’s trademark black hair and mustache) punching a bald Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) dummy and yelling, “Family comes first.”
When one of the fans was quoted as saying GL’s Tammy and Jonathan’s love story “Teaches you love never fails you,” it summed up the offbeat feel of the entire evening. Tammy and Jonathan are first cousins.
"Lesleyann Coker is a columnist and contributing writer 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. She was previously a reporter for Soap Opera Weekly Magazine."
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