Daytime Emmys: Keeping the Fans Happy

Apr 18, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Lee Alan Hill

Special to TelevisionWeek

A Radio City Music Hall tradition is for seating in the upper tiers to be open to the public for the annual Daytime Emmy Awards, airing May 20 on CBS.

“The special thing about this show is that there is such loyalty in the fans,” said producer Al Schwartz, explaining the open-door policy. “Perhaps more than any other show, that’s where the excitement comes from.”

Mr. Schwartz, who has produced 12 of the past 15 “Daytime Emmy Awards” through Dick Clark Productions, is looking to maximize that excitement and, in the process, stem a ratings slide that has eroded the audience base for the program as well as that of virtually all other award shows over the past few years.

In the early 1990s the “Daytime Emmys” actually had a larger audience than the “Primetime Emmys,” and in 1999 snagged a 10.4 total household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. That was the year Susan Lucci, arguably the most recognizable daytime drama star, finally won her Emmy after being shut out 18 times.

Without the promotable element of Ms. Lucci’s Emmy quest, the ratings slipped more than a point to 9.1 in 2000 and have been slipping ever since. Last year the show settled to a prime-time low of 6.0 among total households, and a 2.4/8 among adults 18 to 49.

“In any instance the producers can just put together the best show we can put together,” said Mr. Schwartz, who shares producing duties with Barry Adelman. “But I will admit it would be wonderful if we could have ‘Desperate Housewives’ competing as a soap opera,” he said.

Failing that, the event will try to hook viewers this year with an increased emphasis on talk shows-both cable and broadcast-and some slight rule changes to keep the pace snappy.

The Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing for a Children/

Youth/Family Special categories have been eliminated due to a dearth of submissions, said Denise Burke, director of awards for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), which administers the Daytime Emmys.

These categories once were filled with achievements from “CBS Schoolbreak Specials” and “ABC Afterschool Specials,” but those ongoing franchises went into extinction a decade ago. Today, many children’s specials run on pay-cable channels in prime time, and they will compete in the prime-time category.

This year, as with 2004, there will be at-home judging for virtually all categories, which Ms. Burke said has been well received by Emmy voters.

Also for the second year, a panel of producers, directors and performers on each of the nine daytime dramas chose the nominees for best daytime soap and for the six performing categories on those shows. These 130 peer group judges split between both coasts voted for their choices the weekend of Feb. 5-6, and nominees were announced March 2.

Ms. Burke said the rules change was enacted last year “due to the request of the executive producers, who thought it was a more equitable way of choosing the nominees.” At-home panels judge the ultimate winners, as with the other categories.

This year’s ceremony will have presenters, but no host. Eric Braeden, Deidre Hall and Susan Lucci will kick off the show.

The 32nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

Location: Radio City Music Hall, New York

Broadcast date and time: May 20, from 9-11 p.m. (ET live, PT taped)

Network: CBS

Special awards: Lifetime Achievement honors to Merv Griffin and, post-humously, to Julia Child

Estimated viewing audience: 8.3 million in 2004, according to Nielsen Media Research

Debuts, Deceit and the Devil

Here’s a glance at the nine daytime soaps currently on network schedules.

All My Children

Network: ABC

Production company: ABC Daytime Television

Premiere date: Jan. 5, 1970

Running time: 60 minutes

Current story highlight: The custody battle over Babe’s baby

All-time highlight: The Tara-Phillip-Chuck love triangle

As the World Turns

Network: CBS

Production company: Procter & Gamble

Premiere date: April 2, 1956

Running time: 60 minutes

Current story highlight: Will Mike stop Katie from marrying Henry?

All-time highlight: Holden meets Lily

The Bold and the Beautiful

Network: CBS

Production company: Bell-Phillip

Premiere date: March 23, 1987

Running time: 30 minutes

Current story highlight: Amber works to wreck Brooke’s marriage.

All-time highlight: Brooke takes over as CEO of Forrester Creations.

Days of Our Lives

Network: NBC

Production company: Corday Productions; Sony Pictures Television

Premiere date: Nov. 8, 1965

Running time: 60 minutes

Current story highlight: Tony DiMera wreaks havoc on the residents of Salem.

All-time highlight: Marlena’s satanic possession

General Hospital

Network: ABC

Production company: ABC Daytime Television

Premiere Date: April 1, 1963

Running time: 60 minutes

Current story highlight: Luke’s decision to pull the plug on his gunned-down son

All-time highlight: Luke and Laura’s wedding

Guiding Light

Network: CBS

Production company: Procter & Gamble

Premiere date: June 30, 1952 (radio premiere Jan. 25, 1937)

Running time: 60 minutes

Current story highlight: Gus fights to prove Harley is incapable of murder.

All-time highlight: Reva baptizes herself the “Slut of Springfield” in a public fountain.

One Life to Live

Network: ABC

Production company: ABC Daytime Television

Premiere date: July 15, 1968

Running time: 60 minutes

Current story highlight: Blair’s race to find Todd, who has been kidnapped by Margaret

All-time highlight: Viki’s multiple personalities (Niki, Jean, Princess, Tori, Tommy and Victor)


Network: NBC

Production company: NBC Universal; Outpost Farm Productions

Premiere date: July 5, 1999

Running time: 60 minutes

Current story highlight: Whitney is pregnant with her half-brother Chad’s baby.

All-time highlight: Kidnappers disguised as clowns hold pregnant Sheridan prisoner.

The Young and the Restless

Network: CBS

Production company: Sony Pictures Television in association with Bell Dramatic Serial Co. and Corday Productions

Premiere date: March 26, 1973

Running time: 60 minutes

Current story highlight: Malcolm forces Drucilla to submit to a paternity test.

All-time highlight: Victor-Jack showdown, resulting in Victor’s collapse from a heart attack.


Memory: Kim Zimmer

Three-time Emmy-winning actress, “Guiding Light”

The first time I won was so long ago-before the [Daytime Emmys] show was even televised. It was a little, nice party at the Waldorf. I brought my entire family, and I knew I had no chance to win, because I was up against all the heavy hitters-Robin Strasser, Jeanne Cooper and so on.

They called out my name, and I just remember thinking, “That’s so funny! That sounded like my name.” And everyone at the table was looking at me like, “Go, go, it’s you! Get up there.” I was so shocked, I literally ran right out of my shoes. In other years when I won, I remembered to walk a little slower.