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If the CW is given the chance to broadcast the Daytime Emmys again, they must rethink their strategy. They had some good ideas, but their execution did not live up to its potential.
For all the hype about the red carpet pre-show on the CW, it left a lot to be desired. The hosts, Lara Spencer and Kevin Frazier (who didn't seem to know much about daytime to begin with), spent just as much time promoting the CW's fall lineup and talking to primetime stars, as they did daytime. I could have lived without Laura McKenzie (who?) and Erik Estrada (still not clear why he was there) amongothers, sucking away airtime from soap stars. No one from OLTL, ATWT and daytime's number one rated soap, Y&R, were even interviewed. Since this was airing on basic cable, I expected the love to be spread amongst the shows equally.
The awards ceremony itself started off solid but then spiraled into an unmitigated disaster. The show opened strong with host Vanessa Williams singing an homage to daytime TV, set to the tune of "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You." It was clever how the editors worked Williams into scenes from daytime - everything from B&B and GH to The View and the Today show to Sesame Street, a la Billy Crystal and his movie montages at the Oscars.
From there it was down hill. Viewers had to endure cringe-worthy banter between Brothers and Sisters' Gilles Marini and Emmy nominee Rachael Ray, about Marini's infamous shower scene in the Sex and the City movie. Why was Marini given such prominence during this show? Are there not enough sexy men on daytime soaps that they had to borrow one from primetime? Marini and Ray's banter served as the inauspicious intro to the actor clips for Outstanding Supporting Actor.
Before the telecast, consulting Executive Producer, Al Schwartz, claimed in an interview that the telecast would take a fresh approach. Regarding the clips shown of the nominated performances, he said, "We will not be showing the traditional kind of crying scenes, and shouting and yelling scenes."
This promise was broken with the first award of the evening, for Outstanding Supporting Actor, when Vincent Irizarry (David, AMC) was shown yelling in his clip, followed by Jacob Young (JR, AMC) sobbing in his.
The one surprise of the night came when there was a tie in this category between Vincent Irizarry (David, AMC) and Jeff Branson (Shayne, GL). Irizarry gave the night's second best acceptance speech. He dedicated his award to his son fighting in Afghanistan, to his three daughters, and to his wife in the audience. Branson should also be commended for using his limited time to acknowledge "the cast, crew, makeup, hair, wardrobe, production, and fans."
For Outstanding Younger Actress, the clips shown only got worse. Four of the five nominees selected clips where their character was crying hysterically. Is this the best daytime can muster? While crying hysterically may be a difficult thing to portray and may win you an Emmy, it doesn't translate well out of context to a primetime audience who will view the clips as one more reason to steer clear of soaps. There's a reason you never see primetime Emmy nominees crying in their clips - it looks downright silly.
Poor camera direction didn't help this aspect of the production. Actresses were shown in the audience before their clip instead of after. This had the unfortunate effect of showcasing each actress' reaction to her competitor's clip, sometimes not always favorably. It was an odd choice because most award show directors show the clip first, followed by the actor responding to their own performance.
Julie Berman (Lulu, GH) was the deserving winner for Outstanding Supporting Actress. Unfortunately, she wasted most of her 60 seconds of podium time saying "Oh my God, oh my God." She neglected to thank her onscreen parents, Tony Geary (Luke, GH) and Genie Francis (Laura, GH), who have nurtured her growth as an actress since she joined GH.
Tyra Banks then won for Outstanding Talk Show - Informative, and Rachael Ray won for Outstanding Talk Show - Entertainment, but in my mind, those should be reversed. How Tyra is more informative than a cooking show, I'll never know.
For most commercial breaks, the lead out featured Sesame Street skits with Oscar the Grouch, or green room interviews with people like Lou Gossett Jr. and Cristina Perez. They should have just gone to commercial rather than squander minutes from the all important ticking clock.
Cash Cab won for Outstanding Game Show, and Kevin Clash (the voice of Elmo) won his ninth Emmy for Outstanding Children's Performer.
Next up was Tyra Banks, who introduced a segment she said was "saluting the shows and the fabulous work of their costume, makeup and hair artists." I think this was one salute these artists would have been glad to do without. GL wisely chose to sit this one out, but the other seven shows were represented.
I don't know what the choreography - consisting of couples pushing each other away and then pulling each other back - had to do with showcasing daytime fashion. The less said about poor Eric Martsolf (Brady, Days) grinding up and down in front of Shelley Hennig (Stephanie, Days) the better. Chrishell Stause (Amanda, AMC) has a phenomenal body, but what the heck did her teeny-tiny "James Bond" bikini have to do with anything? I felt embarrassed for her as her (well toned) butt cheeks hung out for all to see on national TV.
While Texas Battle (Marcus, B&B) and Jacqueline McInnis Wood (Steffy) performed their push/pull choreography, the announcer intoned that "they were off to launch a clothing line." Her long white gown looked more like a clothes line considering the numerous times she tripped over it.
During their part in the fashion sequence, Mark Lawson (Brody, OLTL) and Bree Williamson (Jessica, OLTL) - who are an odd couple to me since she looks taller than him - flubbed their moves. Lawson got a little carried away when he lifted Williamson up in their "An Officer and a Gentlewoman" choreography, and accidentally flipped her dress over her head.
However, those embarrassments were nothing compared to what I felt for Susan Lucci (Erica, AMC). As the announcer intoned, "pure glamour...Susan Lucci," Lucci was given choreography that was cheesy for anyone, but especially for a mature woman. Lucci gamely stuck her butt out and gyrated for the faux cameraman, all while her hair kept getting stuck in her mouth. She never lost the smile from her face though, even as I feared she might pop out of her very low cut gold dress.
Lucci then had the unenviable task of tying this frivolousness to something greater. The announcer's segue, "one of the most glamorous nights in television makes you want to give something back," didn't work and further increased the awkwardness of the transition.
Lucci introduced Montel Williams and he introduced Tony Geary (Luke, GH) and Kelly Monaco (Sam, GH), who then showed a package about the foursome's recent trip to Kenya with the Feed the Children organization. It was a change of pace to see these celebs outside their "glamorous" surroundings, and to watch their reactions to the poverty they encountered. As a frazzled and unmade up Lucci said, " 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. If anything, this piece should have closed the show, because what came afterward felt anti-climatic.
The show suddenly seemed pressed for time, so after being treated to only two clip fests (Outstanding Supporting Actor and Outstanding Younger Actress) they eliminated showing clips of the nominated performances. Unfortunately, not only did they eliminate the clips, they eliminated showing the nominated actors altogether! Instead, when their name was read, composite shots of their character filled the screen. Why have a live award show when you're not showing live shots? I can only imagine how the actors felt having their big moment go by without being shown at all.
Tamara Braun won Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as Ava on Days of Our Lives. She acknowledged in her acceptance speech how surprised she was, since she was only on the show for six months. I thought Bree Williamson (Jessica, OLTL) was robbed in this category.
OLTL won for Outstanding Directing and they seemed to file in from the back of the auditorium from another room. I was pleased they earned this well deserved recognition, but felt they should have also won for Outstanding Writing, which they lost to the team from GH.
Outstanding Younger Actor was presented next, by Brandon Buddy (Cole, OLTL) and Kristen Alderson (Starr, OLTL) who rushed through inane pre-scripted banter about her necklace. Darin Brooks (ex-Max, Days) took home the award. He spoke for about ten seconds and was muffled by censors on the west coast broadcast. He briefly spoke again before being silenced again, and then said, "Did I swear?" and left the stage. So much for having a big moment.
Then came a string of no-show winners: Good Morning America for Outstanding Morning show; The View for Outstanding Talk Show Host; and Meredith Vieira for Outstanding Game Show Host. I was surprised The View couldn't be bothered to send at least one of its five hosts, and wondered if GMA couldn't spare its on-air talent, then why didn't they send one of their many producers? It's poor form not to be there to potentially accept an award you've been honored with. Although, if any of these people had shown up, I don't think there would have been time for the Lead Actress and Actor winner to speak at the end!
Ellen DeGeneres, who lost to The View after a four year winning streak, should work on her poker face. I love Ellen, but was disappointed to see her so glum after The View's first ever win. She looked so down, her wife, Portia de Rossi, was shown consoling her in the audience.
Sesame Street won the Lifetime Achievement Award, and was treated to a nice, long tribute. Guiding Light is leaving the air after 72 years (first on radio) and as the longest running show in television history. They were treated to a two minute retrospective hosted by Betty White. Don't get me wrong, I adore Betty White, but I fail to see what she has to do with GL. It would have made more sense to have four time Emmy winner Kim Zimmer (Reva) who has been a part of GL on and off since 1983, and her long time co-star Robert Newman (Josh) who has been on GL since 1981, announce the tribute. And where were former cast members when the cast took the stage for a final bow? I only spotted current ones. To try and fit 72 years worth of highlights into two minutes is an impossibility that was bound to fail.
This brings me to one of my biggest gripes about the show: Vanessa Williams' indulgent second song and dance number. I kept waiting for her to tie it into daytime, to bring someone on stage to serenade, something, anything, that would make it relevant. Instead, her "Come on Strong" song and dance with Gilles Marini of all people (wouldn't Cameron Mathison have been a better choice - he was also on Dancing with the Stars, and he's on All My Children - a daytime show), took up four minutes! And yes, I timed it.
The final awards for Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Lead Actor went to Susan Haskell (Marty, OLTL) and Christian LeBlanc (Michael, Y&R). 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, Marlow, I love you, and will try to get Sesame Street autographs as best I can." Her speech had all the makings of a great acceptance speech - touching, warm and personal. Haskell allowed us a glimpse of who she really is, which is why people watch awards shows - not to see someone read off a piece of paper or do stupid things (LeBlanc putting the Emmy in his mouth) - but for moments of genuine emotion.
Finally, it was time for the big moment: Outstanding Drama Series. With three minutes left in the broadcast, Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw wasted an entire minute setting up a clip of B&B instead of just cutting to the clip immediately. Needless to say, when B&B was announced as the winner for the first time in its 22 year history, the clock ran out.
On the west coast broadcast, we heard the announcer say, "Accepting for B&B, Executive Producer, Bradley P. Bell," and then without ever showing Bell's face, the broadcast cut to a picture of an American Airlines plane and the voice over saying "Sponsored By." My DVR said the time was 1:57 meaning the show still had three minutes before the news started. Instead of allowing Bell even one of those minutes, credits scrolled over people leaving their seats for the next two minutes, before a final commercial break.
Poor Bell. Not only did viewers miss his reaction, but he wasn't allowed so much as a single thank you before they cut away. In fact, he was never shown onscreen at all. Imagine this happening at the Oscars: they announce the Best Picture winner and then cut away to credits, and no one is allowed to speak. Heads would roll the next day. Daytime should be treated with the same respect. I can't imagine any other awards show where this would be allowed to occur.
I'm sure the producers regretted their decision for a four minute Vanessa Williams song and dance number at this point. And if those three no shows had been there to give acceptance speeches, would they not have aired the last three awards? The producers need to allocate their time better or start an hour earlier so if they run over, they won't run into a newscast. And really, is it the end of the world if the news starts three minutes late? It's unacceptable to shortchange people in this way, who have waited and worked their whole life for this moment.
On a lighter note, no award show review is complete without a fashion roundup. My vote for strangest fashion choice of the night goes to Ronn Moss (Ridge, B&B), for wearing what looked like a giant muffler - or was it a neck brace - around his neck in the 100-plus-degree LA heat; and to Kim Zimmer (Reva, GL), whose black dress looked like it had toilet paper streaming down her back, erupting from the giant white flower perched on her shoulder.
Rachel Melvin (ex-Chelsea, Days) took a risk in her fashion forward gray Randolph Duke gown, but unfortunately, it didn't pay off as the gigantic flower bursting from her chest looked like an emerging alien head from an SNL Andy Samberg sketch. It was definitely the love it or hate it dress of the night. Michelle Stafford was a close second with her long white gown with black spots/flowers, which made me think of a cow or a Dalmatian every time I saw her. I also don't know what Julie Berman (Lulu, GH) was thinking with her dress and hairstyle. If her white dress had been black, she would have been a dead ringer for a blonde Morticia Addams.
My vote for best dressed is the lovely coral beaded Zuhair Murad gown Susan Lucci (Erica, AMC) wore on the red carpet, and Sharon Case's (Sharon, Y&R) blue, strapless draped gown. Kirsten Storms (Maxie, GH) had a pretty, upswept tousled hairstyle, but her navy blue dress with the white boa on the shoulder (strangely similar to Kim Zimmer's) keeps her off my best dressed list.
And what's with the daytime ladies and their fake tan? Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe, Days), Kristen Alderson (Starr, OLTL), Susan Haskell (Marty, OLTL), Melissa Claire Egan (Annie, AMC), and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke, B&B) looked like they fell into a vat of Mystic tanning spray. Lang was so dark I didn't recognize her. ATWT must have received a group rate because Colleen Zink Pinter (Barbara), Marie Wilson (Meg), Noelle Beck (Lily), and Meredith Hagner (Liberty) were all so orange they resembled Oompa-Loompas. Is there something wrong with having fair skin in Hollywood? It will be interesting to see what color the actresses are at the primetime Emmys in two weeks, and how the two shows compare in general.
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