While no award show can ever completely barricade itself from scandal, there is one awkward situation the Daytime Emmys are unlikely to encounter.
“When I was observing all of the [#OscarsSoWhite] controversy last year, my initial thought was the Daytime Emmys seem to be automatically diverse,” says David Michaels, senior VP of the Daytime Emmy Awards. “I guess it’s because of the makeup of the shows, but the talent in almost every area is very diverse. Therefore, I think maybe the viewership becomes the same way. … Obviously we can control it by making sure that our talent on our award show stays diverse. But if you look at our entries, it’s truly diverse without having to make that happen.”
To wit, last year saw major categories such as entertainment talk show, informative talk show, entertainment talk-show host, and supporting actor in a drama series going to a diverse mix of talent. The winners were, respectively, CBS’ “The Talk,” ABC’s “The Chew,” syndicated series “Live! With Kelly and Michael,” and Sean Blakemore of ABC’s “General Hospital.”
But perhaps the biggest change to happen to the Daytime Emmys might be how much it has embraced the digital landscape, frequently introducing and branching off other categories to provide daytime programming in all arenas a chance to shine.
Last year, for example, they added a second lifetime achievement category, so now a veteran in the creative arts field is recognized, in addition to an onscreen talent. For 2017, those honorees are “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” exec producer Harry Friedman and veteran entertainment journalist Mary Hart.
The Daytime Emmy nominations are announced March 22 on CBS’ “The Talk” and the awards take place April 30.
This year, due to an influx of entries, Michaels says, “We expanded the actor in a digital series categories so now there’s a best lead actor and actress and a best supporting actor and actress.”
Those aren’t the only awards seeing stiff competition. Michaels says all their categories for children’s programming are crammed with entries, as are the categories for actors and actresses in mainstream soaps. Plus, he says, “Last year, we added the musical performance in a daytime category and we had a nice little number of entries. This year it’s over 30 [submissions].”
Of the forays into the digital space, Michaels says, “If that’s the way we’re going to morph, the more the merrier.” He hopes the added digital entries will result in the Daytime Emmys finding larger audiences beyond the expected soap-opera fans.
“Everyone tells me that that’s the future,” he laughs. “I still love my big screen TV and my DVR. But that is not the way the generations coming up are watching anymore. They’re watching on tablets and on their phones even, which I would never think of doing. … The digital platforms are just more and more and more expanding their programming. We see it more in the children’s programming and the digital dramas, but I think it’s happening in all areas.”
And, as someone who has to watch all submissions to ensure nominees meet eligibility requirements, Michaels has surprised even himself on how his own TV tastes have evolved.
“I never used to watch culinary programs and now they fascinate me,” he says. “And the talk shows are all so different from one another that it’s all so fascinating; it’s like apples and oranges in some ways.”
Even within the new television landscape, Michaels believes there’s still value to the programs most often associated with the Daytime Emmys: soaps.
He cites daytime dramas as a particular area of interest for the award show’s largely female audience, and contends men and younger viewers still have an affinity for the form too.
Another reason why Michaels believes the show should remain sympatico with traditional soap operas? Star power.
“[Daytime programming] is a very close-knit group,” Michaels says. “It’s kind of like a family. We’re [all] watching how it’s morphing. At this point, we have only our four network soaps remaining. That certainly changes the tenor of everything and we want to hold onto them.
“But the soap stars bring the glamour. I truly believe that our fan base is driven by soap fans. That’s the way it is now. If it changes in the future … we just have to keep up with it.”