Kathy Griffin & the internet were the best things to happen to the Daytime Emmys in years

The 41st Annual Daytime Emmys seemed a little defensive about their first-ever webcast ceremony. During the red-carpet pre-show, several interviews highlighted how groundbreaking it was, as if trying hard to make the audience believe it wasn’t a step down from TV. But they didn’t need to convince me. I always thought it was a good idea. A Daytime Emmys webcast was several years overdue, and combined with a strong hosting performance by Kathy Griffin, the internet was the best thing to happen to the event in a long while.

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The key to its success was that the kudos were no longer serving two masters. In 2010 and 2011, CBS carried the show, but the telecasts were compromised by gratuitous promotions of Las Vegas attractions; it was an extended tourism commercial occasionally interrupted by awards.

The 2012 and 2013 telecasts on cable network HLN were a little better, but still compromised by the need to promote HLN talent; in her monologue this year, Griffin skewered last year’s musical number by Robin Meade, who performed the nominees for Best Original Song, apropos of nothing.

This year, with no outside interests to cater to, the Daytime Emmys were free to just be the Daytime Emmys. No filler, no distractions, no Blue Man Group, and perhaps best of all, no embarrassing red couch.

If anything, this year’s Daytime Emmys could have benefited from more content, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that before about an awards show. A whopping 26 categories were presented, but the event clocked in at well under two hours.

It seemed unnecessary, then, to make fun of “Entertainment Tonight” executive producer Linda Bell Blue, who gave a long-winded speech when she won the inaugural Best Entertainment News Program award. And why did Kathy Griffin cut off Best Drama Series winner Jill Farren-Phelps (“The Young and the Restless” executive producer) at the end of the night? I wondered, what’s the rush?

Daytime Emmys host Kathy Griffin lets rip on Kris Jenner (Video)

A little extra time could even have been spent paying tribute to “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” which endured cancellation yet again after their online reboots ended in a morass of lawsuits last year. After the shows were previously canceled by ABC in 2011, the first HLN Emmys acknowledged the loss of the long-running shows, but the “tribute” was half-hearted at best, consisting only of stars Susan Lucci and Erika Slezak at the microphone briefly talking about their gratitude for their departed shows. This year could have been an opportunity to give the shows the farewells they and their fans deserved.

But I don’t want to quibble too much about the webcast, which started with Kathy Griffin in fine form talking about her experiences and enjoyment of the Daytime Emmys – and giddily gossiping about Bethenny Frankel, former “AMC” star and Daytime Emmy winner Sarah Michelle Gellar, and an unnamed starlet who apparently drank herself into a stupor at the 2013 event.

Griffin didn’t censor her language either, which was refreshing, because nobody gives a bleep if you curse on the internet. Best Talk Show Host nominee Sharon Osbourne (“The Talk“) also took the opportunity to let loose a stream of expletives when she took to the stage as a presenter. That was indicative of the sense of freedom that pervaded this year’s awards, no longer shackled by Vegas, HLN, or standards and practices. Osbourne said it best: “Just fucking get pissed and have a good time.”

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Every acting category featured clips of the nominated performances, which was rare and gratifying, though there was one embarrassing snafu. For Best Younger Actor, instead of a scene featuring nominee Chandler Massey (“Days of Our Lives“), we saw a clip of his replacement, Guy Wilson, which was even more awkward when Massey won. Oops.

The presenters were the usual mixed bag of the amusing (the aforementioned Osbourne) and the awkward (“General Hospital’s” Kelly Monaco, Jason Thompson, and Michelle Stafford giving out Entertainment News Program and not hiding their understandable disdain for nominee “TMZ”). And there was a disappointing number of no-shows – well-known winners like Ellen DeGeneres, Steve Harvey, Mehmet Oz, and Katie Couric didn’t make the trip to the streamed event – which meant few truly memorable speeches.

But overall, this year’s Daytime Emmys were a significant step up. Instead of fighting for a TV network that would deign to air them, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences took the awards back for themselves and for the medium they were honoring.

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