Are the Daytime Emmys going the way of the soap operas they honor?

It’s certainly a possibility, with this year’s ceremony airing on a Saturday night on a lightly watched cable network, HLN, that otherwise runs the news of the day, not soaps and talk, court and game shows.

That the Daytime Emmys are going to air at all is something of an accomplishment, considering that well into May — roughly a month before the ceremony date — no network had been secured. CBS, the home of the Daytime Emmys for the past two years, had definitively passed, and no one else seemed to be stepping up.

But whether anyone will watch the broadcast, which will air live from the Beverly Hilton, is another question. Last year’s show, which took place in Las Vegas, was sprinkled with tourism promotions for Sin City and still couldn’t turn a profit. That show also bugged a lot of people who hated all of the in-program advertising.

“Last year was the worst,” says Roger Newcomb, founder of online magazine We Love Soaps. “Our site is rarely negative — usually the worst thing we’ll say is, ‘We could see this being improved’ — but we wrote a scathing review of last year’s show. It was basically a big infomercial.”

This year, most say that they are just happy the ceremony is alive, but they have concerns that it’s being thrown together too fast.

“We are thrilled that it’s airing somewhere,” says Greg Meng, executive producer of NBC’s “Days of Our Lives,” one of four remaining soap operas that air on a broadcast network. (This year, “Days” is nominated for 15 Daytime Emmys, and a large contingent from the show plans to attend the ceremony.) “The Daytime Emmys and the soaps need to support each other.”

“I’m hoping against hope that HLN will pull it out,” says Michael Fairman, who’s produced and developed daytime dramas as well as covered them as a journalist for several publications. “With the show literally being put together in three weeks, maybe they’ll just get out the awards with less fluff, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s better that watching singing and dancing numbers in the middle of the show that have no relevance to what the show is about.”

Another issue is the noms themselves, which some find random and peculiar. For example, the nominees in the court category are three low-rated programs. “America’s Court With Judge Ross,” “We the People With Gloria Allred” and Trifecta’s “Last Shot With Judge Gunn,” exec produced by syndication veteran Peter Brennan.

CBS Television Distribution’s “Judge Joe Brown,” perennially in second-place behind CTD’s “Judge Judy,” also is nominated. But that “Judy” wasn’t even nominated in the category it has dominated for 15 years surprised and confused many industry watchers.

“Just look at the Primetime Emmys: The most popular shows in terms of viewers and pop culture tend not to be nominated for awards,” says Jamey Giddens of website Daytime Confidential, adding that the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has been working to fine-tune the nomination process for balance.

“Will they get it right before the last network soap is done? Who knows.”

The demise of the Daytime Emmys has gone hand-in-hand with the big changes that have taken place on daytime TV.

“At one point, there were 19 soap operas on the air, and then Luke and Laura happened and 14 million people were watching ‘General Hospital,’ ” says Newcomb.

“After ‘All My Children’s’ Susan Lucci finally won the Emmy — after being nominated 14 times and losing every time — in 1999, I think the show lost some of its luster. Then Oprah won a million times until she pulled her name out of contention. … The star power has gone away.”

Come this fall, daytime TV will undergo a transformation, with more new shows coming than in years. Daytime Emmy watchers hope the same sort of change will take place at daytime’s awards show.

“People in daytime work tirelessly day in and day out,” says Fairman. “They deserve to be recognized.”

Adds Meng: “I think reinvention and flexibility are the keys to success for anything. It’s all about listening, changing and growing, otherwise you don’t succeed at anything.”

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