Soap fans have become accustomed to seeing Wally Kurth on their televisions. He has been a fixture of daytime TV for more than three decades, with roles on “Days of Our Lives” and “As the World Turns.” But Kurth’s best known role — as Ned Ashton on ABC’s “General Hospital” — has finally earned the veteran actor a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. An accomplished musician, Kurth won an Emmy in 2002 for writing an original song for “GH,” but can he bring home an acting Emmy on his first time at bat? The winners have been decided by blue ribbon panels that viewed sample performance reels. Watch Kurth’s submission above.
This reel is bookended by relationship developments between Ned and Olivia (Lisa LoCicero). Ned proposes to Olivia, but after previous heartaches for both of them Olivia is hesitant, wondering why they need a document to prove their love for each other. Ned says that marriage is a vow that represents stability and partnership that goes beyond just living together. And the reel ends with Ned and Olivia on their wedding day, as complications have left Olivia without a dress and now once again questioning the idea of getting married. Ned says that even if she were wearing a bathrobe and a pillowcase, she would still be the most beautiful bride in the world.
The middle of the reel explores Ned’s relationships with family members. First he argues with his cousin Michael (Chad Duell) about Ned’s decision to involve the family company in fracking operations, something Michael vehemently opposes. Ned argues that he made a decision that was in the company’s best interests, but apologizes if he overstepped. Later Ned talks with his mother Tracy (Jane Elliot) about her turbulent relationship with her father. Ned tells her that his grandfather doled out love based on obedience and loyalty, and he regrets that his mother spent so many years looking for her father’s affection. Ned then tells her how proud he is of her and that he loves her unconditionally.
Will Kurth win Best Supporting Actor with this performance against Greg Rikaart (“The Young and the Restless”), Anthony Montgomery (“GH”), Chandler Massey (“Days of Our Lives”) and Greg Vaughan (“Days”)? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
Kurth’s performance is sincere and sympathetic, particularly during Ned’s scenes with Olivia and Tracy. With Tracy he movingly expresses a son’s affection for his mother, which makes him relatable. Also, having the reel begin and end with the marriage storyline allows Kurth’s performance to end on an uplifting note, giving the reel an old-fashioned happy ending.
In a category full of emotional turmoil, Kurth’s feel-good material allows him to stand out among his competition.
After more than three decades on daytime and with roles on three different soaps, Kurth is overdue for his first acting win, and he could have the kind of broad support within the TV academy to push him over the top.
The subject matter in Kurth’s reel — marriage and motherly love — lacks the gravity of some of his competitors’ submissions, so Kurth doesn’t get a chance to show off a more emotionally explosive performance.
The scenes in Kurth’s reel don’t cohere into a single, consistent story arc, which could be confusing to some voters as he switches emotions from scene to scene.
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