By Lee Alan Hill
Special to TelevisionWeek
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” won its second consecutive Daytime Emmy Award and its star-whose career was once considered shaky after the demise of two sitcoms in which she was featured-won the statuette for outstanding talk show host at the 33rd annual event, broadcast April 28 on ABC.
But Ms. DeGeneres’ big moment was partly eclipsed by a talk show host who had a lock on those same awards in previous years, when it was officially announced on the broadcast that Rosie O’Donnell will join ABC’s morning series “The View” for at least a year, replacing Meredith Vieira as co-host and moderator.
Ms. Vieira is departing the series to replace Katie Couric as host of NBC’s “Today.”
Ratings for the Daytime Emmys continued to slide, reaching a new low of 6.09 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
“Daytime viewers, particularly daytime drama viewers, are incredibly loyal,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Media. “That may work against the show, unfortunately for the network running it. Shows and individuals seem to get a lock on the award and win year after year.
“That’s a tribute to them, of course, but for the networks it means the only time you can make an impact on the audience is when a winner has a particularly emotional reaction, and you never know when and if that is going to happen. The possibility of that happening may not be enough to lure an audience.”
The Daytime Emmys have failed to attract attention since Susan Lucci ended her perennial losing streak in 1999 and won outstanding lead actress in a drama series in 1999.
And the Winner Is …
At the latest awards, Kim Zimmer of “Guiding Light” won for outstanding lead actress for the fourth time in her career.
“Guiding Light” practically swept the daytime drama acting honors with four of the six, including Gina Tognoni as best supporting actress, Jordan Clarke as best supporting actor and Tom Pelphrey as best young actor.
But it was “General Hospital” that took the award for outstanding daytime drama, and that show’s Anthony Geary won for the fifth time as best lead actor in the genre.
“General Hospital” has won the best daytime drama Emmy nine times, including in 2005.
While a win by Suze Orman as outstanding service show host for her PBS series “For the Young, Fabulous & Broke” was her first, Alex Trebek took the outstanding game show host award for “Jeopardy!” for the fourth time.
The Daytime Emmys again honored actors who are known as prime-time stars. James McDaniel won as outstanding performer in a children/youth family special for his work in Showtime’s “Edge of America.” Mr. McDaniel is best known as Lt. Arthur Fancy on “NYPD Blue,” for which he received multiple Emmy nominations.
The award for outstanding drama series writing team was a milestone of sorts. The writers of CBS’s “The Young and the Restless,” headed by Kay Alden, won the Emmy for the first time since the series’ co-creator and guiding force William Bell, a daytime legend, retired from writing. Mr. Bell died in 2005.
In network totals, CBS took bragging rights with 15 Daytime Emmys, followed closely by PBS with 14. ABC won seven Emmys total, with NBC, Kids’ WB and Food Network claiming two each.
Food Network’s “30 Minute Meals With Rachael Ray” won for outstanding service show.
This was Ms. Ray’s first Emmy nomination for the series. Ms. Ray has contributed segments to “Today” and has entered the print world with books and magazines.
Among the 13 Daytime Emmys that went to syndicated series, Ms. DeGeneres’ show took six.
“Sesame Street,” which debuted in 1969, took eight Emmys, bringing the accumulated total for the show to 109. Among its awards was a nod for outstanding performer in a children’s series, which went to Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who handles the internationally known Elmo character.
A “Sesame Street” mainstay also won the lifetime achievement award, given annually by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Caroll Spinney won for his work as puppeteer of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.
The question of whether the addition of the popular Ms. O’Donnell to “The View” can break that show’s Emmy jinx-nine nominations, no wins- might give the 2007 Daytime Emmy telecast some pre-buzz.
“She’ll change the dynamic of [‘The View’],” Katz Media’s Mr. Carroll said. “Anytime a show has been on that long, a strong new element is a good thing. Rosie O’Donnell has a significant following. It’s only a one-year deal, but we’ll see. She’ll shake things up. She hasn’t even started and already she’s shaking things up.”