Daytime TV's Big Night During a Bumpy Year

23 BKLOT Waytime Emmy Awards Regis Philbin Susan Lucci
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Last year's host, Regis Philbin (below, with Susan Lucci), presided over daytime's first awards show held in Las Vegas.



This year's Emmys have canceled soaps, Oprah and a lot more Vegas on its agenda.

Jim Romanovich knows well that the task before him -- getting more eyeballs on the academy's annual fete for daytime TV -- is daunting. Here, the telecast's exec producer talks about daytime's tough year, pulling out the stops for this year's show (Celine! Cirque du Soleil!) and why the genre still matters.

It has been a tumultuous year for awards shows. Are there any lessons you've learned about what not to do on the Daytime Emmys telecast?

The problem with the Oscars was that they tried to get too smart for their own good. They thought that if they were more intelligent in their host choice, they automatically have a more entertaining show. That's not true at all. The first rule is entertain the audience, and that's what we're going to do. 

What changes, if any, do you plan to make to the show this year?

We're not going to change the format per se, but what we are going to do is enhance what we did last year. You're going to see bigger stars, both from daytime and from Las Vegas. I can tell you that Gladys Knight, Marie Osmond, Penn & Teller, the Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil will all be performing. 

Will you address during the show the recent controversial cancellations of two of daytime's biggest dramas, All My Children and One Life to Live?

Not directly, but I've spoken publicly about it. I think it was a little bit of a hasty decision that could have been thought through a little bit more. We are not planning to do anything formal in the show, but I'm sure some of the presenters or some of the recipients will make a mention of it. When we do the show next year, you can bet we're going to do something on both of those shows.

Oprah Winfrey will receive the Chairman's Crystal Pillar Award for lifetime achievement in daytime for her departed talk show. Is she actually going to be in attendance that night?

We're kind of waiting; it's a complicated thing right now. In any case, she definitely accepts the award, and a lot of entertainers and performers will be honoring her live.

How do you think daytime TV will be affected by the Oprah void?

In the short run, people are going to have to adjust their viewing schedules. And then they'll do what they do naturally. They'll find something else; they'll tune in to cable, or they'll tune in to channel 2 instead of channel 7. Maybe they'll tune in to Katie Couric. I think daytime is very strong and will continue to be strong.

Except for daytime dramas.

Right, but I still believe there's life beyond network television for daytime dramas. I think the daytime drama on the alphabet networks is dying. However, I don't think the five-day-a-week soap is dying. I think it could exist elsewhere, if somebody cared enough to put some time into it. The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful both do better than most primetime shows on the CW.

Do you have a favorite daytime series?

My favorite of all time is General Hospital, but currently it's One Life to Live. I know the shows very well; I know all the people very well. They're all very close to my heart.             

Daytime Emmy Awards Telecast
Sunday, June 19
8 p.m.

5 reasons to watch the Daytime Emmy awards

  1. Oprah's last hurrah: The erstwhile queen of daytime accepts a lifetime achievement award from the academy for The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  2. Cirque does Elvis: Tickets to see Cirque du Soleil's fantasy spectacle Viva Elvis can run upward of $175. See it here for free.
  3. Celine's heart goes on (for Oprah): Canada's Vegas staple sings a tribute to her pal Winfrey. Chest-beats and tears are likely.
  4. Blue Man Group: The 24-year-old performance troupe is back for another Daytime Emmys showing at the Vegas Hilton.
  5. Wayne Brady takes the lead: The improv master and daytime host (Let's Make a Deal) is Regis Philbin's ideal heir apparent.