Red Carpet ClinkerBy Michael Karol Posted: Aug 31, 2009
Growing up, I loved awards shows like the Oscars and the Emmys. But by 1995, when David Letterman hosted the Oscars and laid an egg with his flat attempt to find humor introducing Uma Thurman to Oprah Winfrey and both of them to Keanu Reeves ("Uma…Oprah. Oprah…Uma." "Oprah…Uma…Keanu"), the thrill was gone. Since then, I've recorded the shows, fast-forwarding through the stiff, scripted intros, which are rarely as funny as the writers thought, unnecessary production numbers and the endless commercials.
So it was with last night's 36TH ANNUAL DAYTIME EMMY AWARDS, presented for the first time on The CW (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC didn't want 'em). Vanessa Williams was a spunky hostess — although more of a nighttime soapie (UGLY BETTY, the aborted SOUTH BEACH) than a daytimer. Her opening number — singing "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" with special lyrics geared to a handful of daytime stars, while video screens behind her placed the former Miss America in scenes with Ronn Moss, Tony Geary, and so on — was cute, but a direct lift of Billy Crystal inserting himself into the films he sang about when he hosted the Oscars for several years.
The rest of the night was also pretty standard fare. Like the daytime soaps, the show has been troubled by low ratings in recent years, to the point where there was a question as to whether it would even air, until it was picked up by The CW. I'd bet this telecast did little to remedy the situation. For example, winners Meredith Vieira (Best Game Show Host for WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE) and the co-hosts of THE VIEW (Best Talk Show Host) were no-shows, which could only have the effect of further diminishing the importance of the awards and telecast.
The CW used the opportunity to hawk its prime-time schedule whenever possible, during the red-carpet preview, commercials and the show itself. Did daytime viewers really need to see 90210's Jennie Garth put through an awkward red-carpet interview? Or Garth and co-star Lori Loughlin woodenly presenting one of the awards? Or Daytime Emmy winner (but not for a soap) Louis Gossett Jr. being asked how it felt to win the Daytime Emmy and responding it was an "outstanding" experience? Or Ian Somerhalder introducing a clip from The CW's upcoming series VAMPIRE DIARIES during the show? For me, the only vampire who can lay claim to daytime is Barnabas Collins! (Okay, and maybe Caleb from PORT CHARLES.)
There was the usual award show weirdness, like YOUNG AND RESTLESS' Stacy Haiduk looking all goth in black and showing up with her character Mary Jane's prop cat. Gilles Marini (DANCING WITH THE STARS, Sex and the City) is apparently everyone's idea of sexy these days, but proved he's either a himbo or just wasn't paying attention when he announced the character (Shayne Lewis) instead of the actor (GUIDING LIGHT's Jeff Branson) as Best Supporting Actor. And perhaps because The CW using much of its time to promote its shows, Outstanding Drama Series winner (BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL) exec producer/head writer Bradley Bell's acceptance speech was cut because the show ran too long.
The segment about daytime stars' participation in the charity Feed the Children was certainly worthy of noting, but went on a bit too long and started to look a mite self-congratulatory, especially on a daytime awards show, and considering that the organization's founders were relegated to a quick stand-up thank-you from the audience before a break to commercial.
So what did I like about the show? Loved the first award, Best Supporting Actor, going to the very worthy Vincent Irizarry from my show, ALL MY CHILDREN (the category featured a rare tie: he and Branson). Hands down, the funniest line came from beloved TV vet Betty White, who got a standing ovation as she introduced the GL tribute, joking, "I've been watching GUIDING LIGHT ever since it went on the air in 1776." (The tribute itself was great, but too short.) The salute to SESAME STREET's 40 years on the air was cute. Williams, as noted, was a game host.
But all in all, the show seemed as if it was trying too hard to prove that daytime was indeed chock-full of glitz and glamour, while not offering enough of the real thing.