After badly received CBS telecasts that turned the Daytime Emmys into extended Las Vegas tourism ads, the awards moved last year to cable network HLN for a smaller, slapdash event that was nevertheless gratifying in its restored focus on daytime programming.
However, this year’s event on HLN, despite a more streamlined presentation of categories, ran long with unnecessary filler.
Handing out multiple categories across drama, talk, game show categories, and more, the event’s first mistake was immediately apparent: after select categories, winners were ushered to an on-stage couch where they followed their acceptance speeches with impromptu interviews. The awkward setup and under-prepared interviewers were problematic in and of themselves, but it was clear from the start that the planned two-hour telecast would be unable to accommodate the time-consuming segments, and the ceremony predictably ran almost 30 minutes long.
Those interviews are an example of the most common mistake award-show producers make: adding “entertainment value” that distracts from the medium being honored.
Also unnecessary: having co-host Robin Meade perform the two forgettable nominees for Best Original Song: one written by Sheryl Crow as the theme for “Katie” and the other by Little Big Town for “Good Afternoon America.” Little Big Town won, but weren’t present to accept, so including the category in the telecast at all seemed primarily intended to promote HLN personality Meade.
The hosts overall were largely unneeded. Meade, along with “Good Morning America” anchor Sam Champion and another HLN host, A.J. Hammer (“Showbiz Tonight”), slowed down the event instead of keeping it moving.
What’s more, a number of category presenters seemed far more at ease onstage and likely would have made superior emcees, including Kathy Griffin, Alex Trebek, and previous Daytime Emmys host Wayne Brady. Doing man-on-the-street interviews with an Emmy in hand, “General Hospital” star Nancy Lee Grahn was also a charmer and proved one of the night’s few appealing detours from the awards at hand. But better would have been to eschew hosts altogether.
Subtract songs, couches, and hosts, and what could have been done with the extra available time?
Perhaps clips of the nominated performances; more footage of daytime programs in general, which instead were limited to a pair of clip packages showcasing soap opera fathers and cat fights; or a segment highlighting the rise of multimedia programming, including the recent online resurrection of “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.”
I suspect producers consider such subjects too esoteric; they don’t understand that anyone still tuning in to the Daytime Emmys in 2013 is likely more interested in esoterica than in the theme songs from “Katie” and “Good Afternoon America.”
The night was also beset by a number of technical problems and miscues, from the “Talk” co-hosts being given the wrong envelope to open when presenting Best Informative Talk Show, to various sound difficulties. The event was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, the same venue that hosts the Golden Globes, but I’ve never heard a louder clatter of dinnerware.
Best Supporting Actor and Best Culinary Show both had ties and the winners were called on stage together and forced to divide microphone time between them. However, Supporting Actor co-victors Scott Clifton and Billy Miller‘s embrace at the podium (pictured left) was a highlight of the evening.
Predictably, the best moments of the show were the simplest, including Wayne Brady’s heartfelt presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to his game-show mentor Monty Hall, and Betty White‘s fond remembrance of the next Lifetime Achievement recipient, late game show producer Bob Stewart.
Corbin Bernsen made gleeful use of expletives – and proved HLN, which didn’t bleep him, lacked a time delay – in his wonderful tribute to his brassy mother, longtime “Young and the Restless” star Jeanne Cooper, who died last month at age 84.
A landmark moment came when George Lucas won his first career Emmy: Best Special Class Animated Program for “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” though the history-making victory hardly seemed spontaneous. It was telegraphed by a previous winner and presenter, who seemed to marvel that Lucas showed up at all; by the inclusion of the Special Class Animation category on the telecast for the first time in the awards’ history; and by the category’s presenter, “Star Wars” star Carrie Fisher. What are the odds Lucas wasn’t tipped off about the result in advance to guarantee his appearance on the telecast?
If they wanted to attract fanboys, though, perhaps they should also have saved Best Performer in an Animated Program for the telecast. It was won at Friday’s Creative Arts Awards by “Clone Wars” voice-actor and erstwhile “Doctor Who” David Tennant, who, if he had been able to accept during the telecast, might have brought his own legion of fans to the Daytime Emmys, whose honored soaps are also no stranger to characters played by 11 actors over a 50-year history.