LOS ANGELES – It was pushing 37 C as nominees made their way down the red carpet before entering the restored – and gloriously air-conditioned – Orpheum Theatre for the 36th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.
“I feel like a roast chicken,” noted a glistening Emily O’Brien, nominee as outstanding younger actress in a drama series for “The Young and the Restless.” “This is like an oven,” she said Sunday afternoon. “I’m almost done.””
A bit of heat is one thing daytime television’s longtime mainstay, the soap opera, could use these days. Overall viewership has been declining and CBS’ “Guiding Light” leaves the airwaves in mid-September after 72 years of production, first on radio, then on TV.
The future of daytime television was on the minds of many attendees.
“Daytime television has been evolving,” observed Canadian ex-pat Alex Trebek, who was nominated as outstanding game show host for “Jeopardy!”
“Talk shows are still great. . . . I look around here and I see Dr. Phil is here, Montel (Williams) is here and Ellen (DeGeneres) is going to be here. These are all very successful daytime talk shows.”
Those include “The Tyra Banks Show,” which took home the Emmy for outstanding talk show – informative for the second year in a row.
“You’ve got to move and I’ve totally redone my show from skin and guts – how it looks, feels all the way down to content, because of the changing generation,” Banks said.
Soap-opera veteran Susan Lucci said fans shouldn’t take the cancellation of “Guiding Light” as a sign the entire daytime-drama genre is in trouble.
“I think it’s like nighttime TV. Just because one show gets cancelled doesn’t mean nighttime TV is out the window. But ABC is showing a huge vote of confidence by moving (the New York-based) ‘All My Children’ to L.A., they wanted to expand not contract. So I think our situation is a very, very positive one.”
That is, for some of the “All My Children” cast. Debbi Morgan, who has been with the show on and off since 1982, may not make the cross-country trip with her colleagues. Morgan was married just last June, and the couple is still discussing the possibility of pulling up stakes.
“We are going back to the kitchen table because I love, love, love my husband,” Morgan said. “I love waking up with him every morning, and going to sleep with him every night. And I love my job.”
Would she do a bicoastal commute, as Vanessa Williams did when “Ugly Betty” was filming in Los Angeles.
“I wouldn’t say that I would never not absolutely not rule that out,” Morgan said. But she wouldn’t offer any more details.
The carpet was crammed with actors from “Guiding Light,” who gathered for a telecast tribute to their show.
But veteran “Light” actor Robert Newman said he’s heard nothing. “And, you know, I’m going to be moving forward with my life and career as if it is over,” he added. “If something happens, that’s fantastic and I’ll deal with that when it comes along. But it has been a lot of years, and maybe sometimes things just have to move on.”
The last episode of “Guiding Light” is set to air Sept. 18 on CBS.
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