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Daytime Emmys: NATAS Responds to Potential Boycott by Broadcast Soaps

Will the Daytime Emmys go on?

The four remaining broadcast soaps – “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Days of Our Lives,” “General Hospital,” and “The Young and the Restless” – have joined forces by sending a letter to the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, expressing their lack of confidence in NATAS’ current administration.

The four soaps are so serious about their concerns that they are threatening to not participate in future Daytime Emmy Awards unless these issues are addressed.

Multiple sources tell Variety that there’s been disillusionment for some time between the broadcast soaps and NATAS.

The catalyst for this joint letter — which was sent to NATAS chair Terry O’Reilly and interim president and CEO Adam Sharp— was the organization’s recent decision to revoke a Daytime Emmy awarded to actress Patrika Darbo (“The Bay”) in the outstanding guest performer in a digital daytime drama series category. Variety broke the story that Darbo was stripped of her award after it was discovered she had been submitted in the wrong category.

Further complicating matters, multiple sources confirmed to Variety that Jennifer Bassey (“Anacostia”), the actress with the next highest number of votes, was told she was being given the award – only to have that decision also be reversed. The winner of the outstanding supporting actor in a daytime digital series was allowed to keep his award, despite the potential violations in his submission. The rules called for up to four episodes being allowed on his reel, but five episodes were included.’

Given the current nationwide focus on gender and pay equality, the decision did not sit well within the soaps community.

The issues addressed in the two-page letter, which Variety has obtained a copy of, also include conflict of interest in voter pools, limiting voting to members of NATAS of the Television Academy, winners not being known in advance, and keeping the competition separate from the awards show. The letter was signed by Greg Meng, co-executive producer, “Days of Our Lives,” Frank Valentini, executive producer, “General Hospital,” John Fisher, supervising producer, “The Young and the Restless,” Eva Basler, VP Communications, “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and Steven Kent, SEVP Programming, “The Young and the Restless.”

In response to the letter, NATAS issued the following statement: “Today, I received correspondence raising concerns about some elements of the 2018 Daytime EMMY awards and concerns over its administration. We have great confidence in the integrity of our EMMY awards system, and believe it effectively honors the best work being done in Daytime Television today. That being said, we always take concerns about our systems seriously….and out of abundance of caution I have instructed that outside counsel be trained to evaluate these concerns and conduct an independent look at them.”

The joint move by the four soaps is certainly a rare one, but even more notable given that both “Bold” and “Days” did well at this year’s awards when the statuettes were handed out in late April.

“Bold” (tying “Sesame Street”) took home the most awards (seven) at the Creative Arts Ceremony. “Days,” which often had been shut out from major categories over the decades, earned Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team, and Outstanding Drama Series Directing team. Not since “Ryan’s Hope” in 1977 had a show won all three major awards in the same year.

“Days” also won Outstanding Lead Actor for James Reynolds, who plays Abe Carver, and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Greg Vaughan, who plays Eric Brady.

Read the full letter below.

Dear Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Sharp:

We are disheartened by the recent events involving NATAS and the 45th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards competition and the decisions made by NATAS regarding the Digital categories of Supporting Actor and Guest Star.

We feel the time is appropriate to bring to your attention our serious concerns about the Daytime Emmy Awards competition.

The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and The Young and the Restless are united in their decision not to participate in the Daytime Emmy Awards moving forward until these important issues are resolved.

The shows want a competition free of bias, perceived collusion, and personal agendas.

Our concerns include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Voting:
• Voting should be limited to members of NATAS or the Television Academy.
• All members should be eligible to vote for outstanding show. The current process in which NATAS selects who votes is unacceptable.
• All qualified members in a given category should be eligible to vote in that category.
• We are concerned about conflict of interest in the voter pools. We require complete transparency of the voting process.

2. Accountancy Firm:
• NATAS must stop instructing the accounting firm to disqualify certain ballots because of NATAS perception of block voting or other issues that NATAS arbitrarily deems a reason to disqualify.
• A written procedure must be put in place for questioning and if necessary disqualify a ballot.
• An independent body needs to deal with all process issues and or discrepancies.
• NATAS must have an arm’s length relationship with the accountants.
• An outside, neutral third party must be hired to audit the voting process across all categories for the 2017/2018 awards and those results must be made available to us and to the TV Academy.

3. Winners Known in Advance:
• We were promised by NATAS senior management that the winners would only be known to the accountants prior to being announced on stage. This has not been the practice.
• Despite their assurance, it was clear during the April 2018 ceremony that the winners were known by many in advance. This is unacceptable.

4. Competition vs. Awards Show:
• We feel that it is a conflict of interest for the executive(s) administering the competition in any way, shape or form to also produce the awards show. The executive in charge of the competition is responsible for the integrity of the competition and the awards. We feel that this conflict contributed to recent transgressions regarding the Digital Guest and Supporting performer categories.
• NATAS must hire a team, separate from the competition executive(s), to produce and executive produce the actual awards show.
• The rules need to be more detailed and include the procedure and process for all aspects of the competition.

The concerns listed above are very serious to us. Our goal is to bring integrity back to the Daytime Emmy competition and awards show. We have no confidence in the ability of the persons currently running the competition to accomplish this goal.

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