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Daytime Emmys Hopes(New) Life Begins at 40

It's the 40th anniverary of the Daytime Emmys, and the motto heading into the gala event— to be broadcast live on Sunday, June 16, from the Beverly Hilton hotel—has been “be prepared.”

Unlike last year, plans for this show have been in place for months—although some segments were still being planned at presstime last week—and the services of cable network HLN were secured early.

“Last year, I didn’t sign the contract with HLN until two or three weeks ahead of time. We put the show together almost like a news event,” says Malachy Winges, chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. “This time, it’s going to be more entertaining. It will be a completely different show from last year’s.”

The telecast, to be hosted by Good Morning America’s Sam Champion and HLN’s own A.J. Hammer and Robin Meade, will take a look at daytime’s past, present and future. Soap operas comprise much of daytime’s past, and soap fans remain daytime’s most rabid. The four remaining shows, mixed in with a wide range of programming, are in fact experiencing a ratings resurgence this season.

“Now the daytime community is everything from game shows to culinary shows to court, talk and more talk,” says Winges. “But if you witness the red carpet, most of the screaming fans are soap opera fans.”

Talk shows—from rookies such as Disney/ABC Television’s Katie and NBCUniversal’s Steve Harvey to vets such as CBS Television Distribution’s Dr. Phil and Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz—are the genre’s present. New entries such as Warner Bros.’ Bethenny and Sony Pictures Television’s Queen Latifah are getting ready to premiere; a few more—from NBCU’s Meredith Vieira project to Twentieth’s with Kris Jenner to Warner Bros.’ The Real—are in active development and testing.

The future, as it is for much of TV, is digital, with Prospect Park airing ABC’s former soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live online. This year, YouTube earned three Daytime Emmy nominations, including one in the outstanding new approaches category for online series The Beauty Inside. PBS earned three nominations for its three online-only series, Chuck Vanderchuck, Design Squad Nation and Get the Math.

Among the major changes to this year’s show is the addition of musical numbers. Meade, host of HLN’s Morning Express With Robin Meade and an accomplished country artist, will sing a medley of the best original song nominees, including “This Day” by Sheryl Crow (Katie’s theme song) and “Good Afternoon” by Little Big Town, which serves as Good Morning America’s theme.

Teen Italian opera trio Il Volo will perform their song “Mas Que Amor” during the show’s traditional In Memoriam tribute. That’s expected to feature such departed daytime talent as The Young and the Restless’ Jeanne Cooper, who passed away in her sleep last month at the age of 84. Cooper, whose son is the actor Corbin Benson, played matriarch Katherine Chandler on the show for nearly its entire run on CBS, having joined Y&R in 1973.

Wayne Brady, current host of CBS’ Let’s Make a Deal, will present a Daytime Emmys lifetime achievement award to Monty Hall, who originated that game show. Similarly, Betty White, a close friend of the late game show producer Bob Stewart, will hand a lifetime achievement award to Stewart’s son, Sandy, says David Michaels, Daytime Emmy Awards senior executive director.

Other presenters include daytime’s unofficial rookie of the year, Steve Harvey, as well as Kathy Griffin, Rachael Ray, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Erika Slezak, Kristen Alderson, Nancy Lee Grahn, Lindsey Morgan, Freddie Smith and the ladies of CBS’ The Talk: Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Sara Gilbert, Aisha Tyler and Sheryl Underwood.

While the show won’t be as soap-heavy as it once was, it will still shine a spotlight on the genre. All five of the soap operas that were still on the air during the eligibility period—ABC’s General Hospital, NBC’s Days of Our Lives, CBS’ The Youngand the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful and ABC’s One Life to Live (which now airs exclusively online) were nominated for outstanding drama series.

And like the Daytime Emmys themselves, The Young and the Restless is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. General Hospital, which has seen a 21% ratings increase this season, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Overall, viewership for the Daytime Emmys has declined significantly over the past few years. When the show aired on HLN last year, it hit an all-time low of 912,000 viewers. The show averaged 5.5 million viewers when it aired on CBS in 2010 and 2011, and 2.7 million viewers when it was on The CW in 2009.

Winges has high hopes for this year’s telecast, though. “I’m glad it’s on a Sunday night this year,” he says. “Last year, the show was on a Saturday, which is a night when ratings are usually way down. I’m expecting double the viewing audience this year, not only on television but on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well.”

Production company LocoDistro is producing the 40th Annual Daytime Emmys, with Gabriel Gornell executive producing.

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