Defending champ Ben Bailey (“Cash Cab”) will have a tough act to follow if he is victorious again; in 2011, his ill-timed trip to the men’s room delayed his arrival to the winners’ podium. He’ll compete against Meredith Vieira (“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”), a previous winner in this category who displays genuine empathy for her show’s contestants, energetic Wayne Brady (“Let’s Make a Deal”) and easy-going Todd Newton of the Hub’s “Family Game Night.”
Overlooked: Drew Carey, who consoles losers and cheers on winners daily on “The Price Is Right.”
Freshman law programs “We the People With Gloria Allred” and “Last Shot With Judge Gunn” and sophomore series “America’s Court With Judge Ross” are among the nominees. Surprisingly, this year marks the first time that veteran courtroom series “Judge Joe Brown” has been nominated since the National Academy of Arts & Sciences created a category specifically for judge programs in 2008.
Overlooked: Why did voters ignore again “Judge Judy?” (“Umm. . .” is not an answer!)
“Cash Cab” won this category for three years in a row starting in 2008, before taking a backseat to last year’s co-winners “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” (Those shows’ respective hosts, Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek, were also the year’s joint lifetime achievement award recipients.) “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel” are nominated again in a crowded field that includes “Cash Cab,” “Let’s Make A Deal,” “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” and “BrainSurge.”
Overlooked: “The Price Is Right,” which has won this award five times before, was snubbed.
Last year’s winner, Laura Wright (“General Hospital”), is nominated again but has powerful competition that includes Crystal Chappell (“Days of Our Lives”), who turned in a tour-de-force as a struggling addict. Debbi Morgan (“All My Children”) dealt with both blindness and the loss of her newborn child. Heather Tom (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), a three-time Emmy-winner, is now competing in lead thanks to scenes in which her character courageously battled to hang onto her crumbling marriage. Erika Slezak (“One Life to Live”), daytime’s most honored actress, sent in an episode in which she portrayed not just Viki, but also her many alters. Slezak last won in 2005 when she beat out an impressive seven other nominees.
Overlooked: Melody Thomas Scott (“The Young and the Restless”), who gave a memorable performance as her character Nikki told off her former daughter-in-law in an intoxicated tirade. Also, Deidre Hall (“Days of Our Lives”) gave a solid and understated performance as her gay grandson’s supportive confidante.
Talkshow — entertainment
Viewers could end up seeing a celebrity at the winners’ podium no matter who wins this category, even though it’s for a program. Comedienne Ellen DeGeneres is nominated for helming “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” As executive producer of “The View,” Barbara Walters is also a nominee. Sara Gilbert is likewise a nominee as executive producer of CBS’ “The Talk.” Regis Philbin, a nominee as an exec producer for “Live With Regis & Kelly,” could help get the show a sentimental win after he departed late last year.
The ratings war between “Good Morning America” and “Today” has never been more intense. Counting on viewer interest, HLN has scheduled this to be the evening’s last award, for which “GMA” and “Today” are the only contenders. (Traditionally, the last award of the night is reserved for best soap.) This year, imagine the camera cutting to a graciously smiling Matt Lauer as George Stephanopoulos and company go to the winner’s podium — or vice versa.
Overlooked: CBS’ “The Early Show,” which went through a complete overhaul — including a title change — at the end of 2011.
Sure, daytime drama’s primarily a medium for women, but the performances in this year’s lead actor category are all exceptional. Anthony Geary is set to make Daytime Emmy history if he wins his seventh statue for playing angst-ridden Luke on “General Hospital.” He won his first Emmy 30 years ago in 1982. John McCook (“The Bold and the Beautiful”) could win his first Emmy for a performance that was both passionate and understated, as his character Eric and long-running wife, Stephanie, had a painfully honest dialogue about sex, love and intimacy. Other nominees include past winners Robert S. Woods (Bo, “One Life to Live”), Maurice Benard (Sonny, “General Hospital”) and Darnell Williams (Jesse, “All My Children”).
Jonathan Jackson (Lucky, “General Hospital”), a four-time Emmy-winner, could win for his portrayal of a young father who lost his toddler son to a drunken driver (Lucky’s own father). Fans may tune in to see Jackson, since he’s left “GH.” But the actor’s competition includes not one or two but three of his “Hospital” co-stars — Sean Blakemore, Jason Thompson (a sure contender for next year thanks to his turn as a grieving widower) and Bradford Anderson. That could give an edge to “Days of Our Lives” thesp Matthew Ashford, the final nominee, especially because his performance as a war journalist dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder is truly Emmy-worthy.
Overlooked: A chilling performance by John Wesley Shipp of “One Life” as abusive dad Eddie, and Michael E. Knight’s poignant portrayal of Tad on “All My Children.”
New approaches — daytime entertainment
There’s a potpourri of nominees in this category, which was created in 2008 to recognize “innovative production techniques” and the “use of media enhancement to support content.” The diverse contenders include efforts from “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Take This Lollipop,” “The Clarence Update — The Bold and the Beautiful” and “Today.”
It’ll be ironic if “General Hospital” wins, because the nominated showrunner has since been discharged. “All My Children” is the sentimental favorite and, appropriately, submitted for consideration a few of its final episodes. Veteran cast member Michael E. Knight (Tad) gave a heartfelt speech, which will resonate with voters who are fans of “AMC.” The “Days of Our Lives” submission includes a “grief sex” encounter between two parents who (mistakenly) believed that their son had died. The episode was raw and compelling. Curiously, “The Young and the Restless” went with an episode that revolved around a “whodunit” of a character few seemed to care about; however, a similar submission won “Y&R” its last Emmy in 2007. Maybe lightning will strike twice?
Overlooked: Voters snubbed “The Bold and the Beautiful,” perhaps because the show won this award for the past three years. “One Life to Live,” daytime’s best soap, should not only have been nominated, but it should still be on the air.
This category, originally switched to the non-broadcast Creative Arts ceremony, was moved back to the main event shortly before a broadcast deal was announced. The move could help lure younger eyeballs to the kudocast. Chad Duell (“General Hospital”) dealt with his character’s traumatic prison rape. Chandler Massey’s character Will is coming to grips with being gay on “Days of Our Lives.” The story’s playing out more in 2012, but the writers gave Massey enough material in 2011 to win. Eddie Alderson (“One Life to Live”) was revealed as a maniac’s killer in his episode. Also nominated is Nathan Parsons (Ethan), who has since checked out of “General Hospital.”
Overlooked: Austin Williams was heartbreaking as bullied teen Shane on “One Life.” Adam Gregory gave a sensitive performance as a young man who thought he’d bedded his stepmother while he was under the influence of hallucinogenic berries on “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
Talkshow — informative
HLN might get some indirect cross-promotion for CNN if Anderson Cooper’s daily syndicated talk show “Anderson” wins in this category. The freshman series faces tough competition, however, from “The Dr. Oz Show,” which doles out fascinating and practical information on a daily basis. “The Doctors,” a previous winner, does, too; this year, it submitted “Truth or Dare: We Dare You to Get Healthy,” in which the physicians shed light on, among other topics, the impact of stress and if spicy foods truly do speed up metabolism.
Overlooked: While “Dr. Phil” wasn’t nominated, his namesake, Dr. Phil McGraw, could still win an Emmy as an exec producer of “The Doctors.”
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