Monday, June 28, 2010

Daytime Emmys 2010

I don't pretend to know how the votes are determined for awards shows. There's no accounting for taste as evidenced by the many shows I've loved that have been cancelled. And any given year, for any category of any awards show, there are no doubt several nominees who are deserving of any particular award and probably a few deserving of nominations who were neglected.

But I still wanted to see Crystal Chappell and Beth Chamberlin win Emmys last night.

I've been a fan of Crystal's since she was on One Life to Live as Maggie Carpenter. Her character was memorable because she wasn't a typical soap heroine and she played the character differently than most soap actresses would have. She was more real and I loved that. I was sorry when she left the show. But I did not follow her to Guiding Light when she moved on to that soap. I watched All My Children and One Life to Live whenever I could and didn't want to add more at the time.

It wasn't until February of 2009 that I watched Guiding Light for the first time because some of my online friends had told me about the wonderful way the story of the relationship of Olivia & Natalia was being played out on that show. I decided I'd tune in and see what Crystal was up to and maybe I'd watch, just for her scenes.

What I saw took my breath away. It was the day when Olivia was in a panic about Phillip coming back to town and Natalia had to get right up in her face to help her calm down. Grasping her hands and making Olivia look her right in the eye, Natalia told her "Trust me. We won't let anything happen to your daughter." I was amazed at the intensity between Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia and with the way the production style enhanced the story, bringing the viewer right into the room with the characters in a way that other soaps did not. I was sold, a confirmed "Otalia" fan.

What really surprised me, though, was what happened when I watched the rest of the show. The story was all about Coop's death. Now, I didn't know who Coop was or what his relationship was to other characters in the scenes or who they were to each other. Mother, daughter, sister, son, etc. didn't matter to me yet. I knew I wasn't crazy about the green walls of the hospital and the cheap look of the sets, but I didn't notice that for long. I was completely swept up in the remarkable performances of the actors. I didn't know who Buzz was or what his history with his son was all about, but I hurt for him as he watched his son die. I didn't know who Beth was or what had happened between her and Coop before that day, but my heart broke for her. I wanted to tune in the next day to make sure she'd be okay and to see how she and Buzz would rebuild their lives after such a profound loss. Again, the production model put me right in the middle of the scene and brought it all home to me much more effectively than the traditional style of other shows.

I was a Guiding Light fan.

I never missed a day of the show after that and was continually impressed by the quality of the writing, the performances of the actors and the creativity of the producers and directors as they brought us the show in new and different ways, challenged by their limited budget. That they were all able to present such compelling stories, such memorable characters, day after day under such constraints is remarkable. Other shows with many times their budget can't seem to get it right.

Which brings me to the Daytime Emmys that aired last night.

I do appreciate the fact that somebody, anybody, was able to bring us the Daytime Emmys and on a major network, too. But it was still sad to see that no network bothered to show any red carpet footage of this major industry event. It was also sad that there was no memorial segment to give tribute to stars like Frances Reid, James Mitchell and Helen Wagner after all the years they have entertained and comforted and challenged us.

I have always looked forward to seeing a glimpse of performers on shows I don't usually watch when the nominees are presented, but last night, no clips were shown as the names were announced. Instead we had a commercial for the city of Las Vegas and the travel industry. I'm glad they paid tribute to Dick Clark, a man who has truly changed the industry. More than just American Bandstand, he has produced numerous game shows that have aired on daytime television and this program was not just about soap operas. But I wonder if cutting just a bit from this segment would have left enough time for a decent tribute to As The World Turns, a show that has been a constant for CBS and millions of viewers for over 50 years. The tribute that was presented was less than Guiding Light received last year, which wasn't nearly enough. And although I hated the way the ovation for the cast of Guiding Light was rudely cut short by a commercial break last year, at least they were allowed to take the stage and be recognized by their peers. Not As The World Turns.

I was delighted to see Agnes Nixon honored and although I would love to have seen more time given to this segment I thought they made the most of the time they had. Susan Lucci's emotional speech on behalf of this amazing woman who had literally made all the difference in her life was perfect. And to see Agnes herself stand on the stage and deliver her own (beautifully written, of course!) acceptance speech brought a tear to my eye.

But I still would have liked to see Crystal Chappell win an Emmy last night.

Every soap opera fan can name two or three unforgettable moments in their favorite soaps, performances that are seared into our memories, some because of the pivotal point in the story, some due to the actor's performances, or maybe both. I think the one scene that has been played over and over again as an example of the best soaps have to offer is the scene of Karen Wolek's meltdown on the witness stand, as played by Judith Light on One Life To Live, a scene that is still used in acting classes.

Crystal Chappell's performance as Olivia Spencer, finally declaring her love to Natalia is one of the most riveting performances I've seen on television, daytime or primetime. I read the spoilers, I knew it was going to happen, I could feel the tension building during the scene. But when she screamed "I'm in love with you" I still came up out of my chair and screamed, too. And the way her hand shook as she said it again, this time with a whisper, laid bare the soul of this powerful woman, suddenly powerless in the face of true love.

Crystal connected powerfully with the hearts of the viewers as she portrayed Olivia Spencer, one of the genres most memorable characters. And isn't that what actors are supposed to do?


  1. Love this especially "Crystal Chappell's performance as Olivia Spencer, finally declaring her love to Natalia is one of the most riveting performances I've seen on television, daytime or primetime. " and "Crystal connected powerfully with the hearts of the viewers as she portrayed Olivia Spencer, one of the genres most memorable characters. And isn't that what actors are supposed to do? " Also, I don't know what scene Beth C submitted, but the scene where Beth R is numb with shock and disbelief and then Philip is with her and helps her out of her wedding dress. That was another of the most riveting pieces of television or film I've ever seen. I felt fragile, hypersensitive and numb all at the same time right along with Beth. Guh! Quality work there.

  2. Wow Donna, You summed up my feelings Perfectly. I had stopd watching soaps for over a decade before I found GL/Otalia. It was the first time in ages that television made me FEEL..something...ANYTHING in fact.

    I choked up when Olivia professed her love for Natalia, I've never seen anything as powerful and moving as I have on GL. Beth dealing with the news of Phillips illness was gut wrenching.
    And I wept openly when Alan died.

    And altho I thought the recognition of Agnes Nixon was wonderful, I felt as tho the Emmys disrespected soaps, soap fans, and soap history in general. They should be ashamed. Crystal and Beth were robbed IMO.

  3. Don't have anything profound to say---beyond a good portion of last night's award ceremony, was two hours I'll never get back!

    ...and then the moment I (we) have ALL been waiting for, and Crystal is robbed.

    Ever since I became an Otalia fan (Near-Kiss was my first taste, Graveyard Confession sold me), I've experienced any number of cruel blows. [Cancellation, confirmation of cancellation w/ CC's Days sign-on, the way the Bail was conducted, the lack of Emmys last year, the hurried rush to The End, The End itself, and of course---No Kiss!]

    Last night was one more. Sigh.

  4. Thank you Donna for your tribute to Crystal Chappell and Beth Chamberlin's acting. I really missed the clips of the nominees, a memorial segment and also the awards for children's television.. Although deeply disappointed they did not win, showing the actresses' clips from their Emmy reels would have at least honored their accomplishments in some way.This Daytime Emmy awards show was even disrespectful to itself by being barely recognizable . I will look to other commentary like this blog, to You tube clips , and anywhere else I can find it, to celebrate the contribution of these artists.

  5. I have been a fan of GL all my life and was huge Otalia fan from the very beginning. I was very upset to see that Crystal was robbed and she deserved the Emmy for sure.

  6. Oh, Donna, was it worse than last year? I didn't know it was on until someone Tweeted about it. Honestly, I wouldn't have watched had I known. Who won for best performance by a game show/reality host in a comedy or musical?

    I can't think of anything less relevant than perhaps Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings. The networks envisioned gravy over last year's elevated ratings, but it turned out to be blood in the irony lost on the sharks at CBS. Look for next year's Daytime Emmys on the Sci-Fi channel (please, no HD) or the web.

  7. My thoughts on the Great Emmy Robbery:

    CC was made to pay for the industry dislike of Ellen Wheeler. You could see it coming in Michael Logan's Emmy prediction where he did not pick CC, dissing the production model ! CC was riveting, from the heart transplant, to the wild early rages against Natalia, to the beautiful portrayal of her growing vulnerability and love, to the engagement scenes, the graveyard, and finally the summer angst.

    I think she also may have been a victim of her own success and the jealousy it produced. Not many women cut such bold paths, and with all the BIG media attention - from the NY Times to CNN- paid to Venice, I'd say she threatened the male power structure with her bold foray into the new medium of the web. Some folks cannot deal with powerful women. Again, this is one of the many reasons I will support Venice. CC is a bold mover, not a big talker, and I love that!

  8. Bravo Donna! Well said...

    Crystal Chappell's graveyard soliloquy and confession to Natalia will be used in acting classes.

    What we saw was the beginning of the end of Daytime Television. CBS insulted not only the Daytime Nominees by not showing any clips, but the daytime fans themselves.

    Dick Clark should be honored, but not at the Daytime Emmy's. The Grammy's would have been a more acceptable choice. They should have done a tribute to James Mitchell, Helen Wagner, and Frances Reid.

    As The World Turns and Guiding Light should have been given proper tributes.

    And the networks wonder why the fans leave in droves.

  9. Beautifully stated, Donna! Thank you for saying what is in our hearts.

  10. First of all, beautifully written. And secondly, we agree with everything you said! Especially about Crystal's unerring instincts for delivering the goods in whatever she was asked to do. Every day she appeared was Emmy worthy, from small moments to the most devastating. As for the Emmy show, it was a travesty, from beginning to end. Daytime would have been better served without it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    We couldn't have said it better.

    Mimi & Liron.

  11. Also,
    Thanks so much for the link to Judith Light's Emmy winning scene on the witness stand. It's arguably the greatest scene in soap opera history. Mimi hadn't revisited in a long time and I (Liron) had never seen it before. If only soaps gave actors the chance to develop a scene like they did back then, the genre wouldn't be on the fast track to the graveyard (though a graveyard was the scene of one of Crystal's most stunning performances.

    Mimi & Liron.

  12. Thanks for sharing the link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please reply to my post if you do!

    I would appreciate if a staff member here at could post it.


  13. If you mean the link to Karen Wolek's meltdown on the witness stand, I just clicked on it and the clip is still there on youtube.

  14. Wonderful journey and experience!