Daytime Emmys: Ellen DeGeneres Finds Her Metier as Talk Show Host

May 30, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Lee Alan Hill

Special to TelevisionWeek

For those involved in developing and selling “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Ms. DeGeneres’ first Daytime Emmy outstanding talk show host win and the show’s second consecutive outstanding talk show win were more than just honors. The victories serve as proof that belief in Ms. DeGeneres was justified.

“Ellen is a comedic genius,” said Hilary Estes McLaughlin, executive VP and general manager of Telepictures, which produces and distributes the series. “Winning the Emmy for best show again and seeing her win is sweeter knowing that we had a lot of resistance to her when we went to sell the show.”

Ms. DeGeneres’ private life-particularly a well-publicized relationship with actress Anne Heche that ended in a public split-had made stations wary, as had the star’s inability to connect with a prime-time sitcom attempt, Ms. McLaughlin said.

“Her Emmy proves that you do a great show and all else does not matter,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Media TV. “You do what Ellen DeGeneres does and you deserve to win.”

“We’re grateful to the NBC Stations for stepping up and buying the show,” Ms. McLaughlin said, “but also to the audience. Executives in the business tend to be more conservative, more cautious. But viewers are more open-minded. They want to see what a show is going to be first and then decide if they want to watch it or not.

“What they see is an incredible talent whose approach to comedy is very relatable and universal,” she said. “The cadence of the show is one of calm, one that is relaxing.”

Certainly the Emmy voters have responded. Last year Ms. DeGeneres’ show received 12 nominations, the most ever for a freshman talk show. This year it got 11. Telepictures said the number decreased partly because the show was eligible in certain categories, such as those honoring theme music and main titles, only during its first season.

The series also won Daytime Emmys this year for special class writing, directing for a talk show and live and direct to tape sound mixing.

For its second season, ratings for “Ellen” are up 24 percent, with a 2.1 ratings average, according to the Nielsen Television Index. The show is renewed for its third season to begin in September on 241 stations, representing a 99 percent market reach.

“We’ve got a waiting list of 27,000 [of] those who want to see the show in person,” Ms. McLaughlin said. “We’ve never had anything like that before.”