By Lee Alan Hill
Special to TelevisionWeek
The record eighth Emmy for outstanding drama series won by “General Hospital” at the Daytime Emmys on May 20 was the latest chapter in the storied history of the venerable ABC series, which debuted in 1963. It won its first Emmy in the category in 1981 and most recently had won the award in 2000.
This is also the show’s first Emmy for best drama under the watch of Jill Farren Phelps, who joined as executive producer in 2001. Ms. Farren Phelps previously won the statuette when she was executive producer of “Santa Barbara” in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“The first time I heard it was our eighth was during the show,” Ms. Farren Phelps said. “It’s not like I go around all day saying, ‘How many Emmys do we have?’ But it was very exciting to find that out.”
“Producing the show, you are aware of its legacy,” she said. “You know of the deep history of the show and how well it’s done. And how important the show is in daytime history, and how important it is to the network.”
The award is shared by producers Mary O’Leary, Carol Scott, Mercer Barrows and Michelle Henry as well as coordinating producer Deborah Genovese and consulting producers Charles Pratt Jr. and Robert Guza Jr.
“General Hospital’s” dramatic high point during the past season centered on a blazing fire at the fictional Port Charles Hotel with most of the series regulars trapped inside. Visually, the fire was reminiscent more of “The Towering Inferno” than of a much lower-budgeted soap opera. An episode from that story line was submitted for Emmy consideration.
The drama also won two other Emmys at the Radio City Music Hall event. Natalia Livingston, who portrays Emily Quartermaine, was named outstanding supporting actress in a drama series, her first such award.
The honor for outstanding drama series directing team went to Joseph Behar, Grant Johnson, William Ludel, Scott McKinsey and Owen Renfroe, as well as six associate directors and two stage managers.
“If there’s any pressure to doing this show, it’s to keep the numbers up and the show vital,” Ms. Farren Phelps said. “This is like being the producer on the jewel of the crown.”
Ms. Farren Phelps said that to salute the “GH” cast and crew and to thank the audience, the Emmy statuette itself will be seen in the background in every scene on the show when it airs June 15 and 16.
“You will have to look hard to see it,” she said. “It won’t take away from the drama, but it will be a nice pat on the back to ourselves.”
Alan Carter contributed to this story.