By Michael Maloney
Special to TelevisionWeek
Getting a nomination for a Daytime Emmy may not be quite the same as winning, but it sure is a lot less stressful. “I always say the best day of the Daytime Emmys is the day the nominations come out, said Jill Farren Phelps, executive producer for ABC outstanding drama nominee “General Hospital.” “We get to celebrate. Then it becomes about which tape should we submit and all the other things, like who gets to sit where and what dress should I wear?”
While seating charts are still being finalized and gowns are still being purchased (or borrowed), this year’s nominees were, at press time, this close to turning in their final submissions to the blue ribbon panels. The panels are made up of current and former members of the daytime community, who will decide who gets the gold when the statues are handed out. “The 33rd Annual Daytime Emmys” will be broadcast April 28 on ABC from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. It’s not a steadfast rule that contenders must resubmit the preliminary episode that won them a slot on the final ballot, but most prefer to stick with a proven winner.
“I like to go with the horse we rode in on,” said nominee Christopher Goutman, executive producer of CBS’s “As the World Turns,” when asked whether he planned to submit the same episode for the next round of judging. Mr. Goutman was especially pleased that his show received a nomination for outstanding drama series this year, because he felt the show successfully jumped several hurdles.
“We had three young people leave in the beginning of the year and we found four terrific other young people to take up the slack,” he said. “Also, we changed head writers. Being able to continue with strong writing was a blessing.”
The Emmy submissions for “As the World Turns” will likely include episodes featuring a powerful baby switch story line for which many of its cast members were nominated. “That is still having ramifications with story we’re telling now,” Mr. Goutman said.
Perennial nominees “General Hospital” and “The Young and the Restless” (CBS) had powerful entries too. A train wreck on “General Hospital” put major characters in jeopardy and featured some nifty special effects. (“GH” won top honors last year for a similar episode in which most of the show’s characters were trapped in a burning hotel.) “What we try to do is submit something that involves [many different departments],” Ms. Phelps said. “I’ll always try, if I can, to go for a more episodic show because it’s easier for an audience who may not know the show to access.”
“The Young and the Restless” had a strong year that featured an emotionally overwhelming story line in which two young parents watched their teen daughter die after she made a fateful decision to drive recklessly. “It was classic drama,” said Ed Scott, “Y&R’s” supervising producer. “Our second show [submission] is the fallout from Cassie’s death. There are all these couples. Some are together. Some aren’t. It’s really good drama.”
CBS’s “Guiding Light” earned the outstanding drama nod that many in the industry felt it was robbed of last year. It landed a spot on the ballot this time thanks to the episode in which Jonathan comforted his ex-lover and cousin Tammy after her aborted wedding to the duplicitous Sandy. “We’re so pleased that anyone else loves what we do because we love it so much,” said Ellen Wheeler, “Guiding Light’s” executive producer.
Unlike last year’s lead actress Emmy race, which had a record eight finalists, this year is back to the traditional five contenders. “I still don’t know how that happened,” mused Kim Zimmer, a nominee this year and last as Reva Shayne on “Guiding Light.” “And I don’t know why it didn’t happen again this year. I’d love it if there were a representative from every show for the blue ribbon panels.”
Ms. Zimmer’s submission this year included scenes in which Reva confessed to her husband that she didn’t think he was enough for her. (Ouch!) A three-time Emmy winner, Ms. Zimmer has been at the game long enough to know that winning comes down to having two sensational episodes. “You could have the greatest year of your life, but if you don’t pick the right two tapes, you don’t win,” she said.
Arguably, fellow nominee Susan Flannery, who has four outstanding lead actress statues, had such a year, thanks to story given to her character, Stephanie Forrester on CBS’s “The Bold and the Beautiful,” in 2005. The matriarch’s machinations included faking a heart attack, taking over her family’s fashion house and urging rival Brooke to commit suicide. “Susan’s so real and truthful in her performances,” said Bradley Bell, “Bold and Beautiful’s” executive producer and head writer. “We stretched Stephanie Forrester this year. She’s known for having tricks up her sleeve, and she had quite a few this past year.”
Another contender in the lead actress race is “Guiding Light” veteran Beth Ehlers, whose character Harley Davidson Cooper shared an emotional farewell with her young children after being sentenced for killing her ex-husband. Nominated for the first time is Bobbie Eakes, who plays Krystal Carey on ABC’s “All My Children.” Ms. Eakes won a spot on the ballot by sending in scenes in which her “wrong side of the tracks” character matched wits with her conniving upscale husband, Adam, played by multiple Emmy winner David Canary. “It was a cat-and-mouse-type thing,” the actress said.
Also nominated is Kelly Monaco, who portrays Sam McCall on “General Hospital.” “I submitted an episode from last December in which my character tries to convince [her boyfriend] to have [life-saving] brain surgery,” Ms. Monaco said. “Those scenes were some of the most powerful ones that we did all year. They told a story.”
Ms. Monaco shrugs off buzz that she landed on the ballot thanks in part to her high-profile status as last summer’s winner of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” “I’ve already gotten some backlash,” said the actress, a previous nominee for her work on the now defunct “Port Charles.”
Is a voter going to be influenced by a potential nominee’s extracurricular activities? “No,” said Michael Bruno, a daytime talent manager (whose clients include Ms. Eakes) and celebrity judge on SoapNet’s “I Wanna Be a Soap Star.” “If people are going to give up time to judge, then they’re going to pick who the best actors are.”
If Maurice Benard, who plays mobster Sonny Corinthos on “General Hospital,” wins his second Daytime Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series, he will want to thank his wife, Paula, and his producers. “If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t have even sent my tape in,” Mr. Benard said. “I didn’t like what I was seeing. [But] my wife saw the tape. She said to me, ‘If you don’t send this in, you’re a moron.'” Mr. Benard’s tape included scenes in which Sonny explained to his confidante Jason that he felt responsible for teaching his young son Michael how to kill.
Mr. Benard, who won the lead actor Emmy in 2003, said the key to enjoying the awards evening is to not expect to win. “Then you can have a good time,” he said. He praised his co-star, four-time Emmy winner Anthony Geary, who is nominated again for his role as Luke Spencer. “Tony is … Tony,” Mr. Benard said. “I hear his tape is brilliant.”
Another ABC candidate for lead actor is Thorsten Kaye for his role as romantic hero Zach Slater on “All My Children.” “Guiding Light” actors Robert Newman, who plays Joshua Lewis, and Ron Raines, who plays mogul Alan Spaulding, round out the nominees.
Mr. Newman’s scenes had Josh warning Reva that he might not always be around to clean up her messes. Mr. Raines’ submission deals with Alan’s being exposed as his son’s killer.
Tracey Bregman, who won her first Daytime Emmy in 1985 for outstanding ing%E9;nue for her role as Lauren Fenmore on “The Young and th
e Restless,” said her nomination this year in the outstanding supporting actress category is “just as exciting as my first.” The actress made the final ballot after submitting an episode in which her character accepted her fianc%E9;’s marriage proposal.
Ms. Bregman’s competition consists of four New York-based actresses, including Emmy winner Crystal Chappell, whose character, Olivia, failed to save her marriage on “Guiding Light”; Gina Tognoni, whose “Guiding Light” character, Dinah, sought solace from the handsome A.C. after she found out her father left town; and Jennifer Ferrin, whose “As the World Turns” alter ego Jennifer Munson was lied to that her baby had died. The lone ABC nominee in this group is “One Life to Live’s” Renee Goldsberry, whose attorney character Evangeline broke up with her beau.
Included in the nominees for this year’s award is last year’s winner, Greg Rikaart, who plays bad boy Kevin Fisher on “The Young and the Restless.” This time, Mr. Rikaart submitted scenes in which Kevin dealt with the death of his abusive dad, known as “Terrible Tom.”
“It’d be wonderful to win again, but honestly, it’s less stressful this year,” Mr. Rikaart said.
The actor’s competition this year includes “General Hospital’s” Tyler Christopher, a past nominee, whose character, Nikolas, fell in love with a married woman; and “Guiding Light’s” Jordan Clarke, who despite not having a contract earned an Emmy nod for his character Billy Lewis, a recovering alcoholic who fell off the wagon.
Also nominated are first-timers and “As the World Turns” castmates Trent Dawson, who plays money-loving funnyman Henry Coleman, and Grayson McCouch, whose character, Dusty, sought revenge against his former lover Meg for her role in switched paternity tests.
“The Young and the Restless” has two nominees in this category who are both no longer with the show. Christel Khalil, who played Lily Winters, opted to quit her role when her contract expired last year but received a nomination after submitting an episode in which Lily discovered her mother and uncle had once been intimate, calling her paternity into question. Camryn Grimes chose Cassie’s deathbed scenes, which the show’s producers also opted to submit in other major categories.
ABC’s sole nominee in this group is Leven Rambin, who plays Jackson’s autistic daughter Lily Montgomery on “All My Children.” “Guiding Light’s” Mandy Bruno earned a nomination for her work as Marina Cooper, the odd woman out in the Danny/Michelle love affair. Jennifer Landon received her first nod by submitting a show in which her character on “As the World Turns,” Gwen, discovered that the baby she thought was hers belonged to another woman. “It was a great, amazing moment,” Ms. Landon recalled.
As it did with younger leading actress, “The Young and the Restless” scored two nods in this category: Michael Graziadei, as Daniel Romalotti, who thought he had driven drunk and killed the teenage girl who had a crush on him; and Bryton McClure, who triumphed as foster youth Devon Hamilton.
“I submitted scenes I had with Michelle [Stafford, my TV mom],” Mr. Graziadei said. “You really can’t do a bad scene with her.” Mr. McClure said of his submission, “Devon talked about the memories he has of his [birth] mother with his [foster mother] Drucilla. They were very genuine.”
Other contenders in the category are Scott Clifton, who plays film buff/comic Dillon Quartermaine on “General Hospital”; “As the World Turns'” Jesse Lee Soffer, who plays betrayed teen Will Munson; and “Guiding Light’s” Tom Pelphrey, whose character Jonathan was tormented by his abusive stepdad.
While this year’s Daytime Emmy ballots were filled with deserving nominees, actors and other industry insiders couldn’t help but point out a few glaring omissions. “I saw the tapes and I would have bet you anything that Nancy [Grahn, who plays Alexis on ‘General Hospital’] was going to get in,” shrugged Mr. Benard. “Rick Hearst [who plays Ric in ‘General Hospital’], too.”
Ms. Zimmer felt it was an oversight that her “Guiding Light” niece Stephanie Gatschet did not receive a nod, but added, “The fact that we have [so many others] is great.”
Ms. Grimes spoke for many at the “The Young and the Restless” when she said she was shocked that her grieving TV parents, played by Joshua Morrow and Sharon Case, didn’t make the cut. “Sharon’s an amazing actress,” Grimes raved. “Josh is amazing, too.”
“Joshua Morrow was robbed,” concurred Mr. Bruno, the talent rep. “Josh has really come into his own. I’m surprised he was snubbed.” Mr. Bruno also agrees with Mr. Benard that Ms. Grahn’s lead actress omission was a shocker. “When I saw the ballot, I said, ‘Where’s Nancy?’ I was also surprised that Roscoe Born wasn’t nominated for supporting actor. His character Tom [on ‘The Young and the Restless’] was his role. Another CBS soap should take him on.”
In outstanding drama series, Mr. Bruno felt that “One Life to Live” was overlooked. “[Head writer] Dena [Higley] and [executive producer] Frank [Valentini] have completely turned that show around,” he said. “Also, ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ should have gotten an outstanding drama series nomination. It makes no sense that it’s up for writing and directing and not for show. Writing is show. Bottom line.”
33rd Annual Daytime Emmys
When: Friday, April 28
Where: Kodak Theatre, Hollywood
Telecast: 8 p.m. (ET/PT) on ABC