Can ‘Dr. Phil’ cure his Daytime Emmys curse?

Since its debut almost a decade ago, “Dr. Phil” has never won top talker at the Daytime Emmys. The series hosted by Phil McGraw was bested for Best Talk Show from 2003 to 2007 and since 2008 it has lost the new category Best Talk Show (Informative). And McGraw has lost all four of his hosting bids, first to Wayne Brady (2003, 2004) and then to Ellen DeGeneres (2005, 2007).

In 2003, “The Wayne Brady Show” and “The View” tied for first place among all talk shows. And from 2004 to 2007, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” won that race. The serious subject matters tackled by “Dr. Phil” stood in marked contrast to the fun and games of the competition.

Recognizing this divide, the Daytime Emmys split the category into two with “Dr. Phil” contending now for the Informative award rather than the Entertainment prize. However, in both 2008 and 2009, the show lost to the lightweight self-titled talker hosted by Tyra Banks. And last year, it was the freshman hit “The Doctors” which won over voters with its panel of top-notch doctors dispensing medical advice. Ironically, McGraw shared in that Emmy win as one of the show’s producers.

McGraw tests the patience of Emmy voters as his brash style is often seen as off-putting. The easy-going Dr. Memhet Oz won the catch-all title of Best Talk Show Host last year. Both his self-titled show and “The Doctors” contend against “Dr. Phil” again this year. They focus on medical issues that could well concern voters while “Dr. Phil” continues to stray into tabloid fodder. To finally win a Daytime Emmy, McGraw will have to diagnose his dilemma and be willing to follow the prescription for success.

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