Stakes high for soaps, specials

10 Daytime Emmy races to keep your eye on:

DRAMA SERIES
“All My Children,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “General Hospital” and “The Young and the Restless” are back competing for top honors this year. The “Children” courtroom showdown episode might have sentimental support in light of the sudser’s cancellation. “General” chose an episode filled with gunfire at the hospital and an art show featuring James Franco’s eccentric persona. “Restless” traveled to New Orleans while familial conflicts unfolded back in Genoa City. But “Bold” might be the one to beat, again submitting movie-worthy episodes, this time featuring Stephanie’s emotionally charged interaction with homeless people in downtown Los Angeles, that are well-executed while addressing an important social issue.
Overlooked: “One Life to Live,” ABC’s best sudser in terms of quality, certainly deserved a spot on the ballot.

LEGAL/COURTOOM
“Divorce Court,” “Judge Judy,” “Judge Pirro,” “The People’s Court” and freshman entry “Swift Justice With Nancy Grace” are nominated. Grace’s “bombshell” decision to exit the L.A.-based series in order to be with her family in Atlanta means that if she’s ever going to win for this show, it’ll have to be now.
Overlooked: 2010 nominee “Caso Cerrado” (aka “Case Closed”) failed to score a nod in 2011.

TALKSHOW/INFORMATIVE
“The Doctors” smartly submitted a program with mass appeal — “50 Questions From 50 Ages.” Other contenders are “Dr. Phil” and “Dr. Oz.”
Overlooked: NATAS split up talkshow into two categories — informative and entertainment — in 2008 and, as a result, there have been fewer snubs.

LEAD ACTRESS
“As the World Turns” star Colleen Zenk, whose long-suffering Barbara got a happy ending in the series finale, is the sentimental favorite. A gold statuette for her would be serendipitous. Susan Flannery of “Bold and the Beautiful” has four Emmys for a reason — she’s just that good. Two-time champ Michelle Stafford of “Young and the Restless” is both a critics’ darling and a fan favorite. “All My Children” vet Debbi Morgan, also an Emmy-winner, submitted shows dealing with her character’s blindness. Also nominated are Alicia Minshew (“All My Children”) and Laura Wright (“General Hospital”).
Overlooked: Jeanne Cooper and Melody Thomas Scott (“Young and the Restless”) and Kathryn Hays (“As the World Turns”).

SPECIAL CLASS SPECIAL
The diversity of the entries always makes the category anybody’s guess. This year’s competitors include the “84th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” “MTVU’s Stand in With John Legend,” “New Orleans: Getting Back to Normal” and “The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.”
Overlooked: The Style Network’s “Clean House,” a previous nominee in this category, was not included in this year’s group.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Choosing between past winners Heather Tom (“Bold”) and Tricia Cast (“Restless”) is difficult enough. Also in the mix are deserving nominees Melissa Claire Egan (“Children”), Bree Williamson (“One Life”) and Julie Pinson (“As the World Turns”), the category’s defending champion. The one to beat may be “General Hospital” thesp Nancy Lee Grahn, whose character blasted mobster Sonny with the line, “This is not about you this time!” after he threatened to rub out the boy wrongly accused of beating their daughter.
Overlooked: Carolyn Hennesy (“General Hospital”), Robin Strasser and Hillary B. Smith (“One Life”).

GAMESHOW HOST
Defending champion Ben Bailey (“Cash Cab”) competes against Todd Newton (“Family Game Night”), previous winner Meredith Vieira (“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) and Wayne Brady (“Let’s Make a Deal”), who is hosting the awards show.
Overlooked: Pat Sajak (“Wheel of Fortune”) and Alex Trebek (“Jeopardy!”), but they are attending anyway as co-recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

TALKSHOW HOST
To support the co-candidacy of Sherri Shepherd, Barbara Walters, Elisabeth Hasselback, Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg, “The View” submitted President Obama’s visit to the show. “The Doctors” chose poignantly and responsibly with “The Crisis in Haiti.” Sentiment could go for Regis Philbin as he’s announced his exit from “Live! With Regis and Kelly.” Also nominated are even-keeled Dr. Mehmet Oz and enthusiastic Rachael Ray for their self-titled programs.
Overlooked: She took her name out of the running years ago, but Oprah Winfrey remains the gold standard.

DRAMA SERIES CASTING
Casting directors from “All My Children,” “General Hospital,” “One Life to Live” and “Young and the Restless” submitted performers from primetime, film and the available stable of daytime players. “Children” includes Michael Nouri and Daniel Cosgrove. “General” contains Michael Learned, Daniel Benzali and Adrienne Barbeau (a contender for next year’s supporting actress race.) “One Life” has fan favorites and Emmy winners Kim Zimmer and John Wesley Shipp. “Restless” might have be the most diverse in terms of age, with 11-year-old Garrett Ryan and veteran thesp Elinor Donahue, who played Judge “Anderson,” a nod to the actress’ role on “Father Knows Best.”
Overlooked: “As the World Turns” for discovering sensational Eric Sheffer Stevens, whose Dr. Reid Oliver made Hugh Laurie’s House look like Marcus Welby.

SPECIAL CLASS SHORT FORMAT
Dramatic series “Gotham” and “Venice,” helmed respectively by Emmy-winning actresses Martha Byrne (“As the World Turns”) and Crystal Chappell (“Days of Our Lives,”) are nominated in this newly created category. Votes for these two scripted entrees could split, paving the way to the winner’s podium for “Tasty Time With Zefronk” (a food show for children). In the future, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences might expand Web categories so that dramas don’t compete against shows about food. Vegetables should be washed — just not with soap.
Overlooked: Gregori Martin-created Web soap opera “The Bay” is compelling and top-notch.

DAYTIME EMMYS
Kids’ shows need two-tiered support | Daytime Emmy wheel spins for Sajak, Trebek | Wayne Brady likes Daytime Emmys deal | Ten Daytime Emmy races to watch | Gone and forgotten at the Daytime Emmys? | Acceptance speeches could rally viewers

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