Daytime Emmys Decoded: NATAS Chair on His Dream Host and Just Exactly Who Votes on the Awards (Q&A)

Chuck Kennedy; Sonja Flemming/CBS; Danny Feld/Sony Pictures Television; Vince Bucci/Invision
From left: "The Ellen Degeneres Show," "The Young and the Restless" and "The Queen Latifah Show." (Inset: Malachy Wienges)

Malachy Wienges offers a primer on who and what is behind these accolades, set for June.

This story first appeared in the April 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

As a packed race brews in the quest for Primetime Emmy gold in August, a less public but equally potent series of competitions are underway among television's biggest daytime series. Although soaps have struggled, morning programs and talk shows have thrived, making this year's Daytime Emmys -- set for June, with the date still to be finalized -- worthy of recognition. But first, Malachy Wienges, chair of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, offers a primer on just who and what is behind these accolades.

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What's the most common confusion about the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences?

Well, people always get us confused with ATAS. They used to be the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and now call themselves simply the TV Academy. They give out the Primetime Emmys and are based in Los Angeles. We give out the Daytime Emmys, and our offices are in the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York, the home of David Letterman. Ed was actually one of the founders of our board.

Which other awards are under your purview?

We also give out the Emmys for news, documentaries and tech. We have 14,000 members in 19 chapters across the country.

Has there been a rivalry between the TV Academy and NATAS?

There's been some friction and arbitration, but those are all behind us. Our relationship has never been better. When Bruce Rosenblum was elected chairman of ATAS two and a half years ago, he invited me to his first board meeting to speak, and that's never been done in the history of TV. He broke the ice to bring the two academies closer.

So the TV Academy functions like the U.S. Senate and NATAS like the House of Representatives?

Actually, they're more like two Senates.

Much is made about the average age of Emmy voters, which slowly has been skewing younger. Does this apply to NATAS members as well?

They're getting younger, too. For example, the president of the Phoenix chapter is 30, and most of the 35 board members are in their 30s and 40s.

Do all NATAS members vote for the Daytime Emmys?

Only if they work in daytime TV. If they work in news, sports or tech, then they vote for those categories.

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I actually once received a NATAS news nomination for work I did at Seattle's public radio station, KCTS. If I'd won, would my Emmy have been as good as, say, Stephen Colbert's Primetime trophy?

(Laughs.) Yes. All Emmys are created equal and have that magic power! Both NATAS and the TV Academy share the same trademark statuette. And by the way, Seattle's great NATAS chapter just celebrated its 50th anniversary.

What will be new and exciting about this year's race in particular?

I think the competition among the top three morning programs -- Good Morning America, Today and CBS Sunday Morning -- is an exciting rivalry. Also this year, for the first time, syndicated entertainment news shows like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood have a chance to compete. And we're also expanding into including Spanish-language programs as long as the shows are produced and shown in the U.S.

When and where will the Daytime Emmys ceremony be held this year?

As of a half-hour ago, I was talking to two broadcasters about this. The show will originate in Los Angeles, probably again in June, but we don't know the date yet. We had the technical Emmys in January at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the Sports Emmys will be May 6 at Lincoln Center -- we're honoring Ted Turner with a Lifetime Achievement Award. And the News Emmys will be Sept. 30 at Lincoln Center.

A host can make or break the big show. Do you have one locked in? Kathy Griffin has said she loves the Daytime Emmys. Maybe she's available?

No, nobody is lined up at this point, but I love Kathy. I have a crush on her.