The 2017 Daytime Emmy Awards will be handed out on April 30, but the winners in the soap opera acting categories have already been decided by blue ribbon panels that viewed sample performance reels. In the race for Best Actor, Peter Bergman (“The Young and the Restless”) is nominated for the 19th time for playing Jack Abbott, a role he assumed in 1989. This character has already earned him three Emmys in this category (1991, 1992, 2003), and he earned an additional nomination in this race in 1983 for his role as Cliff Warner on “All My Children.” Looking to win his fourth Emmy, Bergman has submitted scenes where Jack confronts his wife about her affair with his brother. Watch his reel above.
Jack pressures his wife Phyllis (Best Actress nominee Gina Tognoni) to admit that she has been carrying on an affair with his brother Billy. Jack is devastated and enraged by his wife’s betrayal, which is made all the more painful when Phyllis admits that the affair took place at the family cabin, a place that Jack felt was sacrosanct: Phyllis had helped him through his drug addiction at that cabin, and it was where they rediscovered their love for each other. Jack exclaims that he now wants to erase those memories from his mind. Phyllis also admits that she was in love with Billy, and Jack proclaims that any hope for their future together is now gone.
Later, Phyllis pleads with Jack after he asks her for a divorce. She claims that she has broken off her relationship with Billy, but is later forced to admit that she did sleep with him again just days prior. She insists that the affair was the result of the emotional turmoil she felt after being victimized by Victor Newman, but Jack says that her pain is not an excuse. Despite the pain Victor causes others, Jack says, Phyllis is worse. As he leaves, Jack reminds Phyllis that all he ever wanted was to be with her, but she has destroyed their relationship as well as his relationship with his brother.
Will Bergman win Best Actor with this performance against Scott Clifton (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), Billy Flynn (“Days of Our Lives”), Vincent Irizarry (“Days”) and Kristoff St. John (“Y&R”)? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
Emmy voters love a big, emotional performance full of sympathy and impact, and Bergman’s reel certainly delivers both in spades. Bergman trembles with anger and shock at his wife’s betrayal. Then, when Phyllis admits that the affair took place at the Abbott cabin, Jack breaks down, hurt by the fact that his wife’s affair occurred in a place that had profound emotional significance to him. We can’t help but sympathize with Jack’s pain and disappointment.
Despite the anger his character feels, Bergman also shows a great amount of range in the submission. There are moments when Jack is almost mocking Phyllis’s excuses, followed by moments of sadness and hurt, culminating in condemnations full of spite and venom.
Bergman has 20 career nominations in this category, far more than any other actor, but he has only won three times and hasn’t won since 2003. Voters love to honor performers with multiple wins, so they may feel that Bergman is due a fourth trophy.
Infidelity is a common trope in soaps, and despite Bergman’s emotional performance, voters may see the subject matter as overly familiar and choose to reward a reel that explores different themes.
Bergman has submitted a number of impactful reels since his last win 14 years ago, but hasn’t brought home another Emmy yet. In addition, all of his competitors are looking to win their first Best Actor prize. With that in mind, some voters may feel that Bergman has been sufficiently honored and choose to reward someone new.
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