Daytime Emmy acting awards have been given out regularly to the industry’s best and brightest actors and actresses since 1974. But there’s also been a great deal of controversy over the voting process, which has excluded many talented thespians from even ever being nominated — let alone winning a golden girl.
The late Beverlee McKinsey, widely regarded as one of the industry’s finest actresses, was never acknowledged at Emmy time during her eight-year run on “Guiding Light,” for example.
In an effort to prevent similar snubs, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences switched things up a bit this year. On the preliminary acting ballot online, actors attached an approximately two-minute clip of their work.
Voters clicked on nameless entrants on the ballot and were taken to a site that revealed who the candidates were. Before voting, actors could see footage from the contenders and, presumably, make a more informed choice in the process. The actors selected from this stage are called “pre-nominees.”
Yet while a few new names surfaced, the pre-nominated list, which was announced on March 2, was comprised mostly of past winners and former nominees. (The final nominees will be announced on May 4.)
Michael Muhney, who joined “The Young and the Restless” in 2009, was one of the few new faces who made the pre-nom list. He says that he championed the innovative process in order to help overlooked actors (like “One Life to Live” thesps Trevor St. John and Florencia Lozano) receive their moments in the sun.
“I wanted to spearhead this idea that you should be judged by the merits of your work from the past year — not the legend we created from six or 15 years ago or the value of your name,” the actor says.
But can two minutes of footage accurately represent a performer’s body of work from an entire year?
“How bad do you have to be to not have two good minutes?” rhetorically TV Guide daytime columnist Michael Logan. “Everyone has two good minutes.”
The critic feels that if voters had a wider awareness of people’s work, they’d make more informed choices.
“I can tell you who is working a lot on every daytime show right now,” says three-time Emmy-winner Peter Bergman of “The Young and the Restless.” “I was able to do that when there were 10 shows on the air. (Staying informed) takes so little of my time.”
Heather Tom (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), also a three-time Emmy-winner, concurs: “Why not support our fellow actors by tuning in throughout the year? I’ve always been an advocate of that.”
The actress feels the new voting system worked for Melody Thomas Scott, who received a pre-nomination this year, but had only garnered one other nod during her lengthy run as Nikki on “Restless.”
“Melody was the best one out of the whole category,” says Tom, who played Scott’s daughter on “Restless” for more than a decade. “I obviously know her work, but I did not see the particular scene she submitted. It was helpful to see the clip.”
NBC’s lone daytime drama, “Days of Our Lives,” did not score well in the lead performer categories — despite cast members from the show turning in strong work in 2011.
“I applaud NATAS for trying to find a new way, but the results were disappointing,” says “Days'” co-executive producer Greg Meng. “We had a lot of people who did great work last year, including Deidre Hall, James Scott and Alison Sweeney.”
“More often than not a good talented person does get up there (at the winner’s podium), but that can’t be said of the nominations,” adds Logan. “No James Scott? He’s a dynamic actor, and a lot of the people (who made the initial cut) aren’t.”
NATAS is open to fine-tuning the procedure for next year.
“We are collecting feedback from all the performers/judges who participated in the process,” says NATAS executive director Brent Stanton. “That information will ultimately determine if the pre-nom process worked and what might be improved upon for next year.”
Logan suggests that the Daytime Emmys entertain selecting winners the way the Tony Awards are chosen — by having a rotating group of professionals see everything.
That might be a great solution since many actors, like Muhney, say that they are simply too busy to be up on their competition.
“I work every single day, and I film an entire episode a day,” Muhney says. “I go home, have a little time with my family and then I read the next day’s script. If (shows) aired one episode a week and I worked fewer days like primetime actors do, I could stay in touch with what people are doing.”