Deep Soap: Fearless Daytime Emmy Predictions

by | June 22, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Deep Soap

Genie Francis (CBS)

The Daytime Emmys are just one day away, which means it’s time for my annual Daytime Emmy predictions. After watching all of the nominees reels, I have some strong opinions about who should win and who will win. At least half of them will inevitably be wrong. So without further ado, here are my picks.

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Outstanding Drama:

Nominees: “All My Children“, “Days of Our Lives“, “General Hospital” “The Young & the Restless

My Vote:All My Children” This is where I make my obligatory rant about “One Life to Live”, which I, and most critics, felt was 2012′s best soap not being nominated. Once again, executive producer Frank Valentini failed to select shows that the Academy judges liked. The good news, for those of you who dislike his version of “General Hospital” is that next year he will be in charge of selecting GH’s Emmy reel. “All My Children” submitted its two final episodes, which were poignant, beautifully written and acted farewells that both wrapped up several storylines and set up cliffhangers for the planned online version of the show. From Adam and Marian learning that Stuart was alive to Tad’s heartfelt toast to family and Pine Valley, this is the sort of emotional, uplifting material that the Academy should reward. Plus, AMC deserves an honorary Lifetime Achievement award for decades of great entertainment.

Watch the Latest Episode of “General Hospital”:

My Prediction: “General Hospital” It is ironic that the soap received 23 nominations for what many — including ABC which opted to replace executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and headwriter Garin Wolf with the team from the cancelled OLTL — feel was its weakest year. But, viewed out of context, GH’s submissions are powerful, if blatant awards bait. GH submitted Jake’s death and Luke’s intervention. The acting is powerful. Someone who has never watched the show will understand the stakes surrounding the death of a child and an alcoholic who needs to quit drinking. Luke’s intervention has the added bonus of being essentially a standalone episode that looks like a filmed stageplay. Not seeming like a soap has always been an advantage at the Daytime Emmys, because even many of those who work in daytime buy into the soap stigma.

The Other Nominees: “Days of Our Lives” submitted the dull episode in which all of the Bradys gather to say goodbye to John before he goes to prison, ending with an unknown gunman shooting at the guests, and the episode in which Sami and E.J., believing that their son Johnny is dead, have grief sex. That was a great episode for fans, but it may seem campy out of context. Y&R submitted the episode where a dead Diane narrated from the grave and the “It’s A Wonderful Life” themed Christmas episode in which Nikki ( meets her mother. These are virtually identical shows to previous Y&R submissions (Michael and Billy’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” Christmas, the murder of Carmen Mestra. Y&R’s submissions lack originality.

Outstanding Lead Actress

Nominees: Crystal Chappell (Carly “Days of Our Lives”), Debbi Morgan (Angie “All My Children”), Erika Slezak (Viki “One Life to Live”), Laura Wright (Carly “General Hospital”)

My Vote: Debbi Morgan

My Prediction: Debbi Morgan. This is a tough race to call. All of the nominees are worthy, and each of the submitted reels have their strengths and weaknesses. However, Morgan’s reel scores the hat trick. It contains an Emmy bait portrayal of a disability (Angie was blind), a big crying scene (Angie found out that her baby was dead and visited its grave), and gives the opportunity to right two wrongs (lack of diversity in the leading acting categories and a lack of previous Leading Actress wins by daytime A-lister Morgan.) Morgan also has another advantage. She can win votes from not only her AMC co-stars but the stars of her current soap, “The Young & the Restless” which does not have any nominees in this category. Morgan I was deeply moved by Morgan’s naturalistic performance which elevated a cliched soap storyline into a classic.

The Other Nominees: Slezak’s fortieth-anniversary episode in which she played all of Viki’s alters was a tour de force for the actress, who dominated the category during the 1980s and 1990s. It was also a treat for long time fans of the show. But it could come across as campy and stereotypically soapy out of context. Plus, the Academy hates OLTL. Wright was powerful as she asked her best friend to donate his dead child’s organs to save her child’s life, but it was written like an inferior copy of GH’s classic B.J.’s death episodes. Chappell had the shortest reel, and while she did a good job of conveying the horrors of drug withdrawal, it was a dull storyline that few in the industry paid attention to when it aired. DOOL never does well in this category. Tom could be the spoiler here. She had an outstanding reel that told an entire story as, after suffering a heart attack, Katie confronted Steffy about her affair with Katie’s husband Bill then told Bill that his behavior needed to change if he wanted to remain married to her. Her performance never veered into melodrama or went over the top. Her win would be a historic first, making Tom the first performer to win in all three Daytime Emmy acting categories.

Watch the Latest Episode of “Y&R”:

Outstanding Lead Actor

Nominees: Maurice Benard (Sonny “General Hospital”), Tony Geary (Luke “General Hospital”), John McCook (Eric “The Bold  the Beautiful”), Darnell Williams (Jesse “All My Children”)

My Vote: Tony Geary 

My Prediction: Tony Geary. This category seems like a near lock. Before I watched the reels, I was rooting for my sentimental favorites, Woods and Williams. I thought that Geary’s performance during Luke’s alcoholism storyline at times were self-indulgent. But, objectively, the six-time Emmy winner the best performance. Instead of picking the monologue filled intervention episode, he chose the episode where he pushes Lucky away by saying he felt liberated when he killed Jake. It’s dark, complex, sophisticated material. Geary captures Luke’s layers of self-loathing, guilt and denial.

The other nominees: Geary’s reel is more than twice as long as Woods’, who inexplicably submitted quiet scenes of Bo talking to Viki about whether he should donate his comatose son Matthew’s heart to his brother Clint instead of the many more powerful episodes he had during 2011. If it was revealed that everyone at OLTL was paid off to deliberately tank their Emmy chances, then I might understand the show’s selection process. Williams managed to make the difficult task of selling an implausible baby switch scenario, in which he delivers his stillborn son only to have his fellow police officer drop off an abandoned baby that he decides to pass off as his own, look easy. By portraying Jesse as desperate to prevent his wife’s pain, a contrived plot seemed almost natural. However, the writing of the scenes will probably hurt his chances. McCook submitted the scenes in which Eric attempts to have a romantic evening with his wife only to have her rebuff him because she has lost interest in sex. McCook did a great job with the subtle, realistic scenes. Watching the reel made me wish that B&B continued with this storyline to contrast with its youth oriented romances. However, quiet realism comes across as less meaty than the life and death scenarios the other actors submitted. Finally, Benard does what he always does as he rejects the love of his life for having the temerity to ask him to leave the mob so that the two of them could raise her child together without worrying about violence.

Outstanding Supporting Actress

Nominees: Melissa Claire Egan (Annie, “All My Children”), Genie Francis (Genevieve “The Young & the Restless”), Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis “General Hospital”), Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe “The Young & the Restless”), Rebecca Herbst (Liz, “General Hospital”)

My vote: Rebecca Herbst. Herbst had the most powerful material, as Liz struggled with the difficult decision of whether to take her son, Jake, off life-support so his kidney could be donated to Carly’s daughter, Jocelyn. She played a range of emotions, as Liz dealt with being pressured by other characters and gradually accepted that Jake’s life was over, and she had to let him go. She never went over the top. Herbst’s understated strength moved me to tears. Long one of daytime’s most underrated performers, it would be great to see her recognized for her work.

My prediction: Genie Francis. Every year, there is one win that utterly baffles me. I think that the combination of Francis’s legendary status, and her canny decision to submit scenes showcasing Genevieve’s vulnerability as she learns that Colin is divorcing her and talks to Jack about her daughter who died, rather than Genvieve’s typical scheming, manipulative scenes, could make her the “What were the judges smoking?” win of 2012. It was by far Francis’s best performance in an ill-conceived role that does not play to her strengths as an actress.

The other nominees: Egan is terrific as a desperate Annie locks Marissa in an attic then pleads with J.R. not to make her go back to a mental hospital. Egan plays crazy incredibly well, making Annie sympathetic. She shows Annie’s dark side with Marissa, and her neediness with J.R. However, it will be tough for Egan to compete with the three actresses who have Emmy bait  scenes about sick or dead children. Grahn, a previous winner in this category, is one of daytime’s best. 2012, however, was a lousy year for her character, Alexis, who had little to do. In the submitted scenes, Alexis confronts Carly about Jax’s presumed death, holding her responsible for his fate. Grahn is great, but her scenes aren’t as meaty as the other actresses. Hendricksen submitted scenes of Chloe’s angst about her ill daughter. She gives a solid performance, but Herbst outshines her in a similar scenario.

Outstanding Supporting Actor

Nominees: Bradford Anderson (Spinelli, “General Hospital”), Matthew Ashford (Jack, “Days of Our Lives”), Sean Blakemore (Shawn, “General Hospital”), Jonathan Jackson (Lucky “General Hospital”), Jason Thompson (Patrick, “General Hospital)

My vote: Jonathan Jackson

My prediction: Jonathan Jackson. According to the Academy, all the decent supporting actors are on “General Hospital.” It’s baffling that none of the numerous talented performers in this category from “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” were nominated. That said, Jackson, one of the most Academy’s favorite actors, has, in my opinion, the best reel as Lucky confronts his father about driving drunk and killing his son, Jake. The high stakes, emotional material is Emmy bait at it’s finest. Jake’s death may go down in the history books as a terrible storyline that resulted in many great performances and Emmy wins.

The other nominees: Ashford is the potential spoiler in this category, with a powerful reel featuring his character, Jack, in therapy for his PTSD stemming from being kidnapped in Afghanistan. Ashford gets to essentially deliver a monologue as Marlena questions him about his experiences until he breaks down. Unfortunately, the pedestrian writing and directing in the scenes does not allow Ashford to reach his full potential. This storyline could have been daytime answer to “Homeland” — and if it were written on that level, Ashford would have owned this category. On the other hand, being the sole non-GH nominee could win him votes. Blakemore’s reel also features him dealing with PTSD. Shawn is an underdeveloped character, and, though Blakemore does a decent job relating a familiar story of friendly fire during war, but fails to make Shawn distinctive enough to win him votes. Though Anderson is a terrific actor, I’m astounded that he was nominated for an episode in the cringe inducing storyline in which Spinelli became convinced he was a 1940s gumshoe. It was annoying, not funny. Thompson made the bold choice to submit happy, romantic scenes of Jason and Robin making a birthday video for their daughter. It’s a refreshing change of pace from all of the doom and gloom, but the scenes lack the heft of the other submissions. Next year, when he can submit the scenes surrounding Robin’s death, he will be tough to beat.

Outstanding Younger Leading Actress

Nominees: Molly Burnett (Melanie “Days of Our Lives”), Shelley Hennig (Stephanie “Days of Our Lives”), Christel Khalil (Lily “The Young & the Restless”), Jacqueline Wood (Steffy “The Bold & the Beautiful”)

My Vote: Christel Khalil

My Prediction: Christel Khalil. I had no idea Khalil was capable of the work she did during the “Cane gaslights Lily” storyline. She conveyed both Lily’s desire to escape into what she thought were moments with Cane’s ghost and her fears that she was going insane. Her submission features both aspects of this story, culminating in her heartbreaking decision to have herself committed. It’s a terrific reel that has the potential to make the judges reconsider their prior assessments of Khalil.

The other nominees: Wood has grown into a charismatic actress who rises above her often repetitive and silly material to deliver consistently interesting performances. Her reel focuses on the end of Steffy’s affair with Bill in which Steffy reacts with disbelief than anger when he tells her that he loves his wife, not her.  Her submission shows range and tells a story that makes sense even to viewers unfamiliar with the show. This has traditionally been a strong category for B&B, and Wood might follow in the footsteps of Adrienne Frantz and Jennifer Finnegan. Burnett and Hennig are both talented actresses saddled with boring reels. Hennig was off the show for most of 2011, though her starring role on “Secret Circle” showcased her abilities far better than DOOL ever did. Her reel focuses on Stephanie and Nathan’s boring relationship, and it’s appropriately dull. Burnett submitted a livelier fight between Melanie and Chloe (Nadia Bjorlin) over Philip. It’s soapy fun, but it’s no match for either Khalil or Wood.

Outstanding Younger Actor

Nominees: Eddie Alderson (Matthew “One Life to Live”), Chad Duell (Michael “General Hospital”), Chandler Massey (Will, “Days of Our Lives”), Nathan Parsons (Ethan, “General Hospital”)

My vote: Eddie Alderson Alderson, Duell and Massey are all deserving winners with solid reels. But I am throwing my support by Alderson both because I’d like OLTL to get some recognition and because the scenes of him confessing to murdering Eddie were spellbinding and showed that Alderson can hold his own with daytime Emmy winners Robert Woods and Hilary Smith.

My prediction: Chad Duell Duell submitted the scenes of Michael finally admitting that he was raped in prison. Duell gives a moving performance and will get a lot of credit for tackling this difficult subject matter. The reel is well structured, with Duell showcasing Michael’s struggle internally, when he listens to a woman who was attacked recount what happened to her, and externally, when he confides in Jason. this appears to be GH’s year. The only thing that could count against Duell is that the message of this storyline ultimately turned out to be that a man can recover from sexual assault by dating a stripper.

Other nominees: I initially assumed that Massey was a lock to win this category. Then I realized that all of Massey’s amazing performances involving Will coming out of the closet and being blackmailed by E.J. aired in 2012. Massey submitted a scene where he almost confides to Marlena that he is gay but cannot bring himself to say the words. He is terrific, but his near confession of his secret seems likely to be trumped by Duell’s actual revelation. Next year, however, there’s no need to nominate anyone but Massey in this category. Parson’s mediocre reel inspired me to wonder how he ended up being nominated instead of OLTL’s Austin Williams, who could gave a memorable performance in a timely storyline about a teen driven to attempt suicide after being bullied.