by pat howard

INSIDE THE BOX | Postmortem: The 34th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

In CBS, Ellen DeGeneres, Fox, Passions, PBS, Primetime Emmys, The View on June 16, 2007 at 4:50 pm

America was reminded that the Academy is fiercely loyal to its talk show hosts as Ellen DeGeneres picked up two more statues for outstanding talk show host and outstanding talk show at the 34th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards last night on CBS.

Executive producers Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss (Weiss also directed) presided over a relatively painless telecast. The decision to plant perky, twee host Rachael Ray in the audience bleachers at the back of the stage was a wise one; Ray had little to do but sit back and enjoy the show, being called on for hosting duties no more than a handful of times. Most of the heavy lifting was handled by announcer Hillary Huber, whose pleasant voice shepherded the audience through a brisk evening that concluded roughly three minutes ahead of schedule.

Writer Dave Boone also deserves props for crafting banter that was realistic and funny, far above what we’ve come to expect from televised award shows. Even the tidbits about the winners, read as they made their way to the stage to accept awards, were better than usual, highlighting interesting facts about winners in addition to the standard ratio of wins to nominations.

(Disclaimer: The only soap I ever truly got into was Passions, which has gone downhill since its “the shed” heyday in the spring and summer of 2003. Newer soaps seem to have a tough time garnering nominations; Passions received one the whole night, and what I don’t know about the rest of the soaps could fill the Kodak Theatre, so I apologize for my lack of analysis where those daytime dramas are concerned.)

It was DeGeneres who stole the show (as usual). Her first appearance was as presenter of outstanding game show host. Her intro was typical Ellen: she turned the tables on the nominees, noting that they certainly knew how to award prizes. “Let show them what they’re playing for,” she said, gesturing to the stagehand holding the award. The winner was Bob Barker, whose final Price is Right appearance in a 35-year run preceded the Emmy telecast.

DeGeneres took the stage again a little while later to accept her third consecutive statuette for outstanding host. In her acceptance speech, she announced her intention to become more controversial next season, like The View was this year.

She joked that she planned to start a segment called Hot Pockets, shilling for a promotional tie-in before making her first “bold” statement: “I think Bob Barker is a quitter.”

Later in the show, Phil Donahue presented DeGeneres with her fourth consecutive award for outstanding talk show, beating out The View, among others.

Other surprises from last night included that Betty White was on The Bold and the Beautiful this year(!) and that Dr. Phil and his wife spent their honeymoon at a Price is Right taping.

In children’s categories, PBS won big. And there were a few ties as well. Kevin Clash as Elmo and Carroll Spinney as Oscar both won in the same category for their performances on Sesame Street. There were also two winners in the last category of the night, as The Young and the Restless tied Guiding Light (which celebrated its 70th anniversary this year with a community service campaign).

Interspersed throughout the show were viewer-submitted videos highlighting fans’ favorite daytime shows, storylines, and characters, a great way to make the show interactive and reward the fiercely loyal audiences that keep daytime television in business.

The few annoyances of the evening (even host Ray had such a limited role that she didn’t have time to be grating) were easy to forgive and/or mute. The Kmart-sponsored blue room backstage gave Lisa Rinna a chance to accost various daytime players before commercial breaks. And while the graphics and chyrons were overall appealing, the broadcast’s logo itself was a bit hard on the eyes. These are small complaints in an overall pleasant Daytime Emmy program.

A final note following up on View rumblings from yesterday and the bitter end to a yearlong rollercoaster ride that began at last year’s Daytime Emmys. View nominee Rosie O’Donnell was not in attendance last night, but her former co-hosts Barbara Walters, Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselback were in Hollywood for the show. The trio presented a package about awards that were presented Thursday evening at the creative arts Emmys.

In their intro, they bantered about how everyone thought they would win, but they didn’t. Joy teased that they’d have to kill Ellen to really have a shot. But the Academy’s decision may have stemmed from the episodes The View submitted for consideration.

Rather than spotlight what made The View a sensation this season, Walters and her crew submitted two episodes that prominently featured her, including the Hot Topics segment in which she claimed her dog speaks to her. Perhaps the show lost not on its own merits, but because Walters’ diva ego just couldn’t handle O’Donnell being responsible for a View win. Perhaps, however, Ellen just runs a better talk show.

The web is awash today with reports that Bob Barker endorsed O’Donnell as his potential successor on The Price is Right.

A full list of the Emmy winners is available at the official site.

And the race to the Emmys begins again in just over a month. Nominations for the Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced July 19. Creative Emmys will be presented Sept. 8, with the primetime telecast slated for Sept. 16 on Fox.

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