Daytime Emmy Awards: 'Days of Our Lives,' 'Young and the Restless' Tie for Best Drama Series

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Tyra Banks

Wins by 'General Hospital,' Steve Harvey and Craig Ferguson and tributes to Joan Rivers, Betty White and Paul Walker were among the other highlights.

The Daytime Emmy Awards returned to television Sunday night and spread the wealth around with two winners for best daytime drama — Days Of Our Lives and a repeat by last year’s winner, The Young and The Restless.

“A few years ago they said soap operas were dead, and reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated,” said Y&R executive producer Jill Farren-Phelps.

She added that the CBS daytime drama stands with the other soaps not as a competitor but “as strong survivors with the most talented, most hardworking, most under-rated group of people in show business.”

The most-nominated soap opera, General Hospital, did not win the top award but got lead actress in a drama for Maura West and lead actor for Anthony Geary, who won his record eighth award in the category. Overall, the three wins for General Hospital tied with Y&R for the most by any show.

Geary thanked the writers and directors of General Hospital and especially executive producer Frank Valentini, who, he said, “took me into his room and said after 37 years, 'What have you not done and what do you want to do?' And he delivered in spades.”

Geary, who makes his home in The Netherlands, looked out at Valentini in the black-tie audience on a Warner Bros. soundstage in Burbank, waving his Emmy, and added: “The base of this belongs to you Frank. You can visit it in Amsterdam any time.” Then he added: “Thank you, Academy, for not being sick of me yet.”

In a strange way, the most talked-about person of the evening was Matt Lauer, who wasn’t there and didn’t win an Emmy. He and Ellen DeGeneres opened the show in a pre-recorded bit. After they announced that their “prank war” was over, DeGeneres turned to the Today co-host, who ripped off his street clothes to reveal a pair of black underpants, a garter belt, black stockings and pasties on his nipples.

DeGeneres than said that Lauer “has generously offered to donate $1,000 of his own money to charity any time one of you mentions Matt Lauer in your speech tonight. … If all the winners can thank Matt, we can raise a lot of money.”

There was no final tally at the end of the night, but most of the winners and many of the presenters mentioned Lauer not once but multiple times.

DeGeneres later won for best talk show entertainment, a category her program has dominated since 2004, winning seven times previously. The award was accepted by her producer.  

Two other show hosts were bigger surprises. Steve Harvey won for outstanding talk show/informative and thanked the people behind the scenes. “We get the credit for standing out front,” said Harvey, “but they do it.”

Craig Ferguson was ebullient when he won outstanding game show host for his freshman syndicated show Celebrity Name Game. His late-night talk show on CBS went off the air last year and his efforts to launch a talk show fizzled. “I have never won anything,” said Ferguson. “This is fantastic. … Thank you Hollywood for a job.”

Betty White was given a lifetime achievement award presented in a skit that included Regis Philbin, Marie Osmond, Fred Willard and Charo, who did a mock version of Password as their introduction. Charo did a hip shimmy in White’s honor and the 93-year-old star came on stage and did her own shimmy before accepting.

“Oh my goodness,” said White. “I cannot tell you what this means. … I have been in this business for a long time. You may not have noticed that, but I started in 1949. I had no idea that I would still be around at this point for one thing, or that I’d still be privileged enough to still be in this business. It is such a privilege.”

White gave thanks to “you, your mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfather. And a couple of great-grandfathers when I was younger."

Melissa Rivers came out to introduce a memorial montage but first paid tribute to her own mother, Joan Rivers. She recalled that in the late '80s, after a failed talk show on the then-new Fox network, her mother had a year where she got almost no work after decades of being busy all the time.

“She refused to give up,” recalled Melissa, “and the daytime television community saved her. With their support and encouragement, she created her daytime talk show. It ran for five years and brought her the only Emmy she would ever win.”

“This strong foundation reinvigorated her career,” added Melissa, “and my mother felt loved and valued by the daytime community. For that I will always be grateful. … She went on to have 24 more fabulous years, and I got to enjoy all of them with her.”

In a bit of a surprise, the memorial reel included a tribute to actor Paul Walker from appearances early in his career on a soap opera. He died in November 2013 but is a star of Furious 7, which has been a huge hit at the theatrical box office.

Tyra Banks emceed the awards show, a first in her career, and used the program to frequently plug her upcoming return to syndicated talk this fall in The Fab Life. She opened the show by rapping out a song that had lyrics which summed up the past year in daytime TV.

She closed the opening by slapping her own butt and declaring: “For all of you who are not fans of daytime, I have one thing to say to you. Kiss my fat ass!”

There were some new awards voted on by the fans, some of which sounded more like they belonged on the MTV Movie Awards (such as best bitch slap on a soap opera). One fan, a teacher, came out to present an award, and a large contingent of other fans made up a gallery that overlooked the floor, where about 1,300 people sat around dinner tables on Stage 16 at Warner Bros.

Mario Lopez came out and spoke Spanish as he presented the first award for a Spanish-language morning show, which went to Un Nuevo Dia on Telemundo.

At the Creative Arts Emmys on Friday, a number of new media and streaming services won awards including Netflix, which took an award for best children’s program.

The venerable show Jeopardy! won as best game show. Longtime executive producer Harry Friedman said, “You clearly know what it takes to keep a show like this."

Overall, the big winner among networks was CBS which won seven awards during the evening and used the program on the Pop network (which it jointly owns with Lionsgate) to promote its CBS daytime shows. Syndicated shows took five awards while ABC got four and NBC earned two.

The Pop network (formerly the TV Guide Network) also used the awards to relentlessly promote its new reality show Queens of Drama between segments and on the show. After the program, the first episode of the new series aired. Future episodes will be on Wednesday nights.