Lucci luck may change this time

Walt Willey of “All My Children” is building a second career as a standup comedian. On ABC May 26, Willey co-hosts the 20th Anniversary Daytime Emmy Awards Show in prime time with perennial Emmy Cinderella Susan Lucci, who has been nominated as best actress 14 times, including this year, but has never won.

Will comic Willey be making jokes about that?

“Yes, right after I put a bullet in my head,” he jokes. “I’ve arranged for someone to read them in my eulogy. Actually, I don’t know if it’s funny really.”

It may not be amusing for the wildly popular Lucci, whose character of Erica Cane is probably the best-known in all the soaps, although she has made self-mocking commercials about it. But the annual cliffhanger has helped turn the Daytime Emmy show into a prime time winner.

Lucci isn’t talking this year, but James Cannon, president of the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), co-presenter of the awards with Hollywood’s Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), says it’s the question he’s asked most.

“I don’t think she loves it so much but it has been one of the greatest things to happen because the interest she has elicited is unprecedented,” says Cannon. “She has won far more by not winning. It’s created incredible suspense.”

Mimi Torchin, editor-in-chief of Soap Opera Weekly, says that all the attention on Lucci has taken away from other nominees. “She’s a fabulous person and she’s created a great character but Susan as a loser almost overshadows the winner.”

“Everyone asks for the real dirt on Susan,” says Walt Willey. “Well, the real dirt is that she’s classy, somehow she’s managed to stay on top in a very difficult business for 23-odd years, she’s raised two wonderful kids, kept a family together, and still turns in a performance day after day. I hope I’m her good luck charm this year,” Willey adds.

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