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Noms Race Turns Into An Eye Opener

Friday, May 2, 2008

CBS dominates thesp categories, but some question new voting procedures


This year's nominations for the Daytime Emmys has sparked much dis- cussion in light of CBS' 56 nods — more than double the combined noms for ABC (34) and NBC (14).

The Eye won 23 slots in the six acting daytime drama categories. NBC's "Days of Our Lives," often absent from acting categories, earned four, while ABC took in only three.

The seemingly lopsidedness of the ballot struck many as odd, es-pecially since the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences implemented new procedures, allowing shows to submit more candidates and content, hoping to make the process more equitable.

However, some voters may have felt bogged down by the amount of required viewing material.
"I talked to about a dozen or so actors who voted," says Michael Logan, TV Guide contributing writer and soap columnist. "Some got bored halfway through, some managed to watch it all, and others decided to chuck it and not vote at all."

"General Hospital" exec producer Jill Farren Phelps says, "I have no sour grapes, because we are nominated for show, writing and directing, but when you hand people 15 hours of work (to be completed in two weeks), there's a possibility that not everyone is going to watch it."

"Guiding Light" producer David Brandon feels that the screening method is rigorous but worthwhile and ultimately bene- fits newer actors such as "Light's" Nicole Forester, who earned a lead actress nomination. By viewing the performances firsthand, voters are marking off their ballot for actors that they've seen, rather than just based on the reputation of the thesp.

"I can understand the frustration of the time commitment," he says. "It's a lot to go through when you're working five days a week."

Network domination of a category isn't unprecedented. Last year, two-time Emmy winner Heather Tom faced off against four fellow ABC (and one CBS) thesps in the supporting actress category. She's in a very similar position this year — only this time it's with three fellow CBS stars and one from NBC, as she's now moved over to "The Bold and the Beautiful."

"I don't think that (a network getting a majority of nods in a cat¬egory) means there's any kind of conspiracy or that there are un deserving nominees on the ballot," says Tom. "Some shows have
better years than others. Some actors have stronger storylines."

Opinions vary as to how to perfect the system.

Tom recommends a 10- minute edited tape of a per¬former's work from the entire year. "That would level the play-ing field and cut down on view ing time," the actress suggests.

Peter Bergman, a four-time winner and nominee this year for his role on "The Young and the Restless," who has been nominated under different vot¬ing regimes, says, "The best system was the original one, a ballot with photographs. You couldn't vote for more than two actors from your show. It forced you to ask, 'Who are the good people in daytime?"

Says Ken Corday, exec pro¬ducer of "Days of Our Lives": "I weigh in with the people who believe that this will not be a fair process until we're judged by the entire East and West Coast Academies — just as all mem¬bers of the Academy judge (the Primetime Emmys)."

Talent manager Michael Bruno, who reps "Days" nomi¬nee Judi Evans, says that actors and show execs need to take personal responsibility when it comes to submitting — or rather not submitting — them- selves when candidates haven't had deserving years.

"It's wonderful to be nominated and to win an Emmy," Bruno says, "but this is just the icing on the cake, and sometimes you shouldn't be eating the icing."

Changes made by NATAS in the nonsoap categories emerged without much, if any, controversy.

Talkshows were split into two categories: informative and entertainment, so this year, issue-oriented "Dr. Phil" won't compete against celebrity inter- views and dancing on "Ellen."

Also, a category was created for top legal/courtroom pro¬gram, so now "Judge Judy" will go gavel-to-gavel against other courtroom dramas as opposed to potentially nonlegal programs in the special-class category.

"It's always good when you can be in a category that makes sense for your content," says Terry Wood, president of cre- ative affairs and development at the CBS Television Distribution Group.

"The View" is nominated in the entertainment talkshow category, and the skein's exec producer, Bill Geddie, wouldn't mind seeing a, live program grouping in a sort of subcategory, given the specific challenges of that genre.

"There's a very big differ-ence between being live and being on tape," he says.
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