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In defense of Heather Tom

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  • gdfl
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    #426483

    The general opinion around here over the past year (ie since her win last year), has been that people are getting tired of the praise for Heather Tom.  I am of that opinion as well.  But I think people are being too hard on her.

    Heather Tom is a Daytime legend.  That can’t be argued.  She made Victoria an iconic soap character for many years, she breathed life into OLTL as Kelly, and she achieved the impossible by filling Flannery’s shoes on B&B.

    So, IMO, the problem here is not with Tom per se, but rather with (1) Emmy baiting, (2) over-exposure, and (3) a lame character.  Regarding baiting, it sucks no matter who is doing it.  As for the latter two, Michelle Stafford suffered the same thing a few years ago when Phyllis was in every story line, there was nothing to like about the character, and Stafford’s fire and tears won her countless nominations even though a lot of people were getting sick of her.

    All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t be so hard on Heather Tom.  No one, including me, wants her to win this year, but she deserves the accolades she has achieved and our respect for her efforts to consistently entertain us. 
     

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    Morgan Henard
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    #426485

    She’s a massively talented actress and has certainly left an impact on the industry. She’s even made Daytime Emmy history by being the first performer to win Younger (2), Supporting (1) and Lead (2) Emmys. But there’s no way I can cheer for Tom to win Emmy no. 6 (tying Erika Slezak!) when Davidson and KKL – and even Zucker – don’t have Emmy no. 1. 

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    FreemanGriffin
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    #426486

    With the exception of Maura West – who I would have voted for 6 of the 7 times she was nominated for an Emmy (Debbi Morgan deserved the 2008 Emmy that Susan Haskell won), I generally root for actors who either have never won or haven’t won in a very long time. Daytime is different than movies or even primetime television – there are so many actors who deserve Emmy awards for their service to the industry, and so even if an actor gives great Emmy reel performances I personally will always root for someone who is at least as good as that performer. Of course, it’s all subjective. I simply don’t like certain characters – Katie, Dante, Dylan, Liam, Chloe, Chelsea, Victoria, Fenmore, Kiki (but I loved Starr) – so I’m not going to root for the actors who play those roles, even when they are solid actors, which almost all of them are. (I regard Steve Burton as very wooden and dull, and somehow Kristin Alderson’s Kiki is very shrill and puts me off, which is odd, since I absolutely loved Starr Manning – very strange – Kristin as very wisely submitted her work as Starr for Emmy consideration this year). 

    I personally didn’t care for Heather Tom’s Kelly on One Life To Live, mostly because Gina Tognoni was Kelly for me. I never warmed towards her Victoria either. And Katie drives me up the wall. So I think it’s just a personal taste issue for me. And of course, I want a tie to happen in Best Actress this year: Eileen Davidson (never a big favorite of mine, although I absolutely adored her work as Susan Banks back in the 1990’s) and Arianne Zucker.

    And yes, I want an actress to win Emmy #1 this year!!! (:

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    Matt McClamrock
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    #426487

    Hold on.  I take note with the Michelle Stafford comment above.  I never felt any of her work was Emmy bait.  Phyllis was not the only lead female on Y&R so her screentime wasn’t that of Flannery, Lucci, Slezak, or even Heather Tom and KKL.  I’d like you to name one storyline like “Phyllis’ post-partum depression”, “Phyllis’ death”, “Phyllis’ stroke”, “Phyllis’ alcoholism” that would substantiate the assessment that her nominations resulted from Emmy-baiting.  I’m sorry, I just don’t see it.  Phyllis certainly had storylines like her on-again-off-again marriage to Nick, but hte Y&R writers never catered to her the way the AMC writers catered to Lucci for many, many years, or how GH catered to whatever actress was playing Carly, or how B&B centered around Flannery, or Days of Our Lives around Marlena and Hope.  Stafford was just VERY VERY VERY good at what she brought to Phyllis. 

    And I agree with Freeman, I never bought Heather Tom as Kelly.  I know she earned a lot of praise, but that was just the writing and Heather Tom is a really good actress and pulled off the scenes, not necessarily the character as a whole. 

     

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    Matt McClamrock
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    #426488

    Also, Freeman, I, too would have picked Maura West more often.  I would have picked her to win in 2001, 2004 (yes, even over Michelle Stafford), and 2008 as well as  her winning years in 2007 and 2010.  That would have given her five Emmys (four for Best Actress). 

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    gdfl
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    #426489

    Hold on.  I take note with the Michelle Stafford comment above.  I never felt any of her work was Emmy bait.  Phyllis was not the only lead female on Y&R so her screentime wasn’t that of Flannery, Lucci, Slezak, or even Heather Tom and KKL.  I’d like you to name one storyline like “Phyllis’ post-partum depression”, “Phyllis’ death”, “Phyllis’ stroke”, “Phyllis’ alcoholism” that would substantiate the assessment that her nominations resulted from Emmy-baiting.  I’m sorry, I just don’t see it.  Phyllis certainly had storylines like her on-again-off-again marriage to Nick, but hte Y&R writers never catered to her the way the AMC writers catered to Lucci for many, many years, or how GH catered to whatever actress was playing Carly, or how B&B centered around Flannery, or Days of Our Lives around Marlena and Hope.  Stafford was just VERY VERY VERY good at what she brought to Phyllis. 

    And I agree with Freeman, I never bought Heather Tom as Kelly.  I know she earned a lot of praise, but that was just the writing and Heather Tom is a really good actress and pulled off the scenes, not necessarily the character as a whole. 

    Re Stafford, to clairfy, the baiting comment was not in reference to a full story line (well maybe Pheila, but that would be the only example), but rather a particular set of scenes for her to submit.  For example, Phick would be going nowhere, but then there would be a one-sided explosive confrontation with Nick that would become Stafford’s Emmy reel.  That is arguably baiting, but yes, it only worked because Stafford is the dynamo that she is.  Similarly, Heather Tom gets a few days like that on B&B which would become her Emmy reel, and again, it only works because she’s a fierce actress.  So that’s what I meant.  It was just an anology to make my point, but I love both actresses.  A lot.  

    As far as Heather playing Kelly, I was impressed because Kelly is so different from Victoria.  I thought it was a ballsy move for her to try a character in the same medium who was so different than what made her famous, and be able to pull it off well.  And then I think she inadvertently got bonus points from me because Tognoni’s second try as Kelly was a disaster.
     

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    Allan
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    #426490

    Agree on the Maura West love here. Definitely deserving of more than two trophies!

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    tar123
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    #426491

    Heather Tom has been successful at winning because she knows how to play “the game”–picking one or two good episodes she appeared in versus the rest of the year’s work–which was average, at best. Mastering “the game” was what made Susan Lucci a perennial bridesmaid and why Leslie Charleson and Deidre Hall have never won. The three aforementioned women are consistent performers day after week after month after year; they don’t need to rely on hyper emotional scenes to win awards the way Heather Tom, Erika Slezak and Kim Zimmer have!!

    Speaking of master actresses, VERY disappointed Maura West didn’t make the final cut!! She was the shot in the arm GH needed in its 50th year (GH’s series snub is this year’s other unforgivable snub!!).

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    Fishbiscuit
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    #426492

    Heather Tom needs no defense.  People can choke on those hater-tots. 

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    alokin
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    #426493

    The general opinion around here over the past year (ie since her win last year), has been that people are getting tired of the praise for Heather Tom.  I am of that opinion as well.  But I think people are being too hard on her.

    Heather Tom is a Daytime legend.  That can’t be argued.  She made Victoria an iconic soap character for many years, she breathed life into OLTL as Kelly, and she achieved the impossible by filling Flannery’s shoes on B&B.

    So, IMO, the problem here is not with Tom per se, but rather with (1) Emmy baiting, (2) over-exposure, and (3) a lame character.  Regarding baiting, it sucks no matter who is doing it.  As for the latter two, Michelle Stafford suffered the same thing a few years ago when Phyllis was in every story line, there was nothing to like about the character, and Stafford’s fire and tears won her countless nominations even though a lot of people were getting sick of her.

    All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t be so hard on Heather Tom.  No one, including me, wants her to win this year, but she deserves the accolades she has achieved and our respect for her efforts to consistently entertain us. 

      This has gotta be one of my absolute favorite posts of the year. Brilliant analysis, gdfl, and I agree with every single word!

     

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    FreemanGriffin
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    #426494

    All I know is that I want Eileen and/or Ari to win for Days this year and will be really disappointed if it isn’t a Days actress collecting the Lead Actrss Emmy! (;

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    gdfl
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    #426495

    [quote=”gdfl”]The general opinion around here over the past year (ie since her win last year), has been that people are getting tired of the praise for Heather Tom.  I am of that opinion as well.  But I think people are being too hard on her.

    Heather Tom is a Daytime legend.  That can’t be argued.  She made Victoria an iconic soap character for many years, she breathed life into OLTL as Kelly, and she achieved the impossible by filling Flannery’s shoes on B&B.

    So, IMO, the problem here is not with Tom per se, but rather with (1) Emmy baiting, (2) over-exposure, and (3) a lame character.  Regarding baiting, it sucks no matter who is doing it.  As for the latter two, Michelle Stafford suffered the same thing a few years ago when Phyllis was in every story line, there was nothing to like about the character, and Stafford’s fire and tears won her countless nominations even though a lot of people were getting sick of her.

    All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t be so hard on Heather Tom.  No one, including me, wants her to win this year, but she deserves the accolades she has achieved and our respect for her efforts to consistently entertain us. 

      This has gotta be one of my absolute favorite posts of the year. Brilliant analysis, gdfl, and I agree with every single word!

     

    [/quote]
    Thank you, alokin! 
     

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    EmmyLoser
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    #426496

    Lots of interesting comments, and I agree with a lot of it.  It’s nice
    of you to come to Heather Tom’s defense in this year of us being kind of
    sick of her winning awards, gdfl.  And I think you really nailed the
    reasons for it.  I have no issue with Heather Tom’s talent, at all. 
    Last year, when I watched the lead actress reels, I didn’t really think
    that the role and her year of work warranted a second consecutive best
    actress win, but she was clearly the best, and I had to admit that.  My
    main problem with her possibly winning this year is just that I don’t
    feel her work over the course of the year stands up to what some other
    actresses did, and it doesn’t at all help that I really dislike Katie.

    The
    funny irony of this is that the year Storm died and Katie got his
    heart, the opinion was the exact opposite.  Tom was snubbed, we as a
    group were outraged, and the sentiment for so high for her around here. 
    But it’s hard to stem the tide of a person who is now holding a couple
    of daytime records and scratching at the door of a couple more when
    people generally feel that she maybe didn’t deserve the wins or
    nominations that got her there, talent notwithstanding, AND that she’s
    poised to become statistically the greatest performer this genre has
    ever seen when people don’t necessarily agree with that either. 

    But
    it’s true, she does know how to play the game, and she plays it.  No,
    Katie is not Carly or Phyllis or Carly, and she’s really just not a
    character who’s going to play with emotional stuff every day.  B&B
    really isn’t that kind of show, and Katie wouldn’t be the character for
    that if it were.  But Brad Bell gives her something to work with every
    year, and she works the hell out of it.  That’s the system, and I guess
    it’s unfair to be mad at someone who is playing by the rules of Emmys
    and thus doing well with them.  Look at someone like Deidre Hall, who
    has never won an Emmy and, despite having begun to submit her name
    again, clearly doesn’t participate in the process the same way.  DAYS is
    not giving her a showcase episode or two a year to submit, and it
    doesn’t seem like she even bothers to pick her strongest performances,
    just stuff she likes.  I realize part of that is in response to a system
    that was ignoring her anyway in large part, but that doesn’t change
    what’s happened recently. 

    I don’t find it particularly daring
    that Tom went from Victoria to Kelly, since most of the actors who have
    some confidence in their abilities, and certainly one who already has a
    few Emmys, like the chance to show their skills by playing largely
    different characters.  I also didn’t love her version of Kelly, but
    opinions will vary.  Bottom line, though, I don’t have a problem with
    Heather Tom and don’t dispute that she’s very talented, but I don’t
    think she deserves to win the Emmy this year, or that she has yet
    reached the level of status commensurate with what her accolades to date
    would suggest.

    Also, I want to address the point PujolsFan made
    about Michelle Stafford versus some of the genre’s other leading ladies
    of the past decade or so.  I love Stafford, and think she’s top level in
    terms of what she brought to Phyllis and what she brings to a scene. 
    I’m not arguing that.  But I don’t think the distinction you’re making
    is valid.  Stafford’s screentime came because she was just so good,
    where these other ladies got it because the writers wanted to write
    around their characters?  Maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying. 
    Writers and EPs have various reasons for centering their show around a
    certain performer, a mix of popularity for the performer and the
    character they play, talent, the ability to win Emmys, how the person
    works into the budget, storyline opportunities for the character.  It’s
    never exactly the same with any of them, but I don’t see that we can put
    Phyllis in one box and these other leading ladies in a different one. 
    Also, I know we always say Emmy-bait like it’s a bad thing, but I don’t
    think it necessarily is.  It’s frankly frustrating to watch an actor be
    consistently great all year and never get a knockout tape because the
    producers or writers never thought to give them one.  Stafford
    definitely did have episodes I’d say were Emmy-bait, but I wouldn’t
    complain about it.  I complain about a person who has nothing
    substantial most of the year and then gets either an episode or two or a
    contrived mini-storyline to get them awards attention.  The one bit of
    Emmy-bait with Stafford that did bother me was the Pheila storyline.  I
    despised Stafford’s reel that year, as she played gritty, unhinged
    Sheila and Phyllis became a Stepford wife.  It felt so clearly designed
    for Stafford to play all of these contrasting qualities, but in a way
    that was just so contrived and artificial. 

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    gdfl
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    #426497

    Interesting points, EmmyLoser.  I’ll add a few things:

    1.  I wonder if it makes a difference to people’s interpretation of her record that so many of her noms were for Younger Actress.  One could use that to minimize her accomplishments versus, for example, Stafford or Lucci, who hold many nominations in more competitive categories.  Or you could argue that it shouldn’t be minimized because when Tom was in Younger Actress she was competing with other greats, like of Kimberly McCullough, Sarah Michelle Gellar, etc, not lightweights (or deadweights) like Christel Khalil, Kristen Alderson, etc.

    2.  As EmmyLoser alluded to, for every arguably “undeserved” praise that Tom got, there was another performance that was overlooked.  Storm’s suicide was mentioned, and I’ll add the years Natalia Livingston and Cady McClain won (though I was pleasantly suprised for the latter) where Tom’s submissions were stellar yet overlooked. 

    3.  Even though I’d be very bothered if Tom won this year, especially over Davidson, I wouldn’t mind if she eventually became the genre’s most decorated performer for three reasons: (a) the vast majority acknowledges her as one of Daytime’s greatest talents, (b) she’s been in the game for so long that in some ways she’s equivalent to a vet, and (c) I accept that the Emmy’s can be a crapshoot, so it basically doesn’t mean anything, but even if it did, it’s not that outrageous given (a) and (b).
     

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    FreemanGriffin
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    #426498

    Well, I completely disagree. I don’t believe she is anywhere near the greatest daytime actress. I believe that honorific should go to Robin Strasser. I also love and adore Kathryn Hays, Elizabeth Hubbard, Erika Slezak, Denise Alexander, Mary Stuart, Victoria Wyndham, Beverlee McKinsey, Julia Barr, Susan Flannery and ALISON SWEENEY – they are all much greater actresses than Heather Tom.

    The thing that bothers me most about Heather Tom is that she got all those younger actress nominations (and two Emmys) the exact same years that Alison Sweeney was eligible. The two actresses both began on daytime at the very same time. I adore one and don’t care for the other very much at all. I would have nominated Alison Sweeney at least as many times as Heather Tom has been nominated. I adore Ali and I love Sami. Alison’s achievement, for me, is that there were many years in which I really hated Days (esp. the James Reilly years) yet her presence on the show kept me watching specifically for her Sami Brady. Simply because the blue ribbon panels prefer scenery chewing (Kim Zimer, Erika Slezak, Heather Tom, Michelle Stafford) to more subtle acting does not make those actresses greater than a more subtle never-nominated actress such as the great Kathryn Hays. (The lack of nominations – and wins – for Robin Straser since 1985 will always puzzle me and is a real head-scratcher. I will never understand her lack of success at getting nominations. She deserved to win so many times over those years and I was disappointed year after year. She didn’t submit this year – they were determined to give “the trinity” nominations this year, though, and the reboots only got one measly nomination, so she probably wouldn’t have made it to the final 5 anyway).

    Ali deserved to win for the bulimia story, for the death row year, and esp., I felt, a few years ago during the baby switch story – her acting was on fire! It would be so great if they would honor her next year: she certainly has the Emmy reel for a win, the fakeout reveal when E.J. imagines that Sami finds out about his sexual escapades with Abigail. 

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