Ellen DeGeneres by Gregg DeGuire/ WireImage.com
We were promised more energy, more fun and more excitement for this year's Daytime Emmy Awards, and the event delivered. Opening with multiple, overlapping spoofs on daytime television, hosts Sherri Shepherd and Cameron Mathison set the tone from the start. With an all-new, banquet-style set-up and an open bar for the guests, the sweltering L.A. evening outdoors was left far behind for the cool festivities inside the Kodak theater. Backstage in the press room, TVGuide.com heard from the winners of each category, where the newly crowned Daytime Emmy recipients gushed about their new trophies.

Tyra Banks was one of the first of the night to take home a win. For her acceptance speech, she took over the entire stage area with her team when they won for Outstanding Talk Show/Informative series, and she was no less outspoken when she arrived at the press room. Explaining that she'd had her own "ugly cry" after holding her composure on camera, she also spoke to her mother's emotions over the win. In recalling the moment, Tyra teared up again, and described how deeply her mother's stake in her career was planted - plus how, in Tyra's words, the elder Banks "instilled her power in me."

Outstanding Younger Actress and Actor winners Jennifer Landon and Tom Pelphrey also came through, each with a unique perspective on the night as Daytime expats. Neither says they're ruling anything out yet - neither returning to a soap (any soap) nor touching a soap script again - but neither specified more Daytime appearances in the works. For his part, the newly shorn Pelphrey was riotously funny, cracking jokes even about his recently deceased father - albeit in a loving way. "He was Big D--k," Pelphrey deadpanned. "Because his name was Richard." He added, "The apple sure doesn't fall far from the tree!," sending the room into peals of laughter. Once he stopped laughing at his own jokes, the Guiding Light alum said that, as a new Angeleno, he's auditioning around town, but no plans just yet.

Later on, Ellen DeGeneres, fresh from her win as Outstanding Talk Show Host, announced her press room arrival through the ABC emcee's mic. Taking the stage, she ran the question session with her classic agility, even hopping off over to the door to let the caterer in the room. Despite having already taken home an Emmy or three, DeGeneres said this one was still special because it meant she was still making people happy at a time when we all need "more joy." She also offered some details on her own new joy of getting engaged: She and her partner, Portia De Rossi, have set a wedding date, and, even with the hard work of planning the event, DeGeneres said it was already promising to be her dream wedding.

Some of the more contrite Emmy honorees were Regis Philbin, who won a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Anthony Geary, who took home the win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series ( GH). While both were old pros at taking home the shiny, winged trophy, the night was no less meaningful to them. For Geary, taking home an Emmy is even more exciting as he gets older, he said, while Philbin, though deeply honored, only half-joked that he views kudofests as akin to going to the dentist.

Jeanne Cooper, who won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, was one of the evening's later surprises. Although her Y&R cast mates were wildly enthusiastic when her name was called, Cooper's demeanor was calm and collected backstage. Taking questions in her flowy Etro dress, she said she was thrilled to win, especially after what many fans see as her having being overlooked too many times. The biggest thrill for the daytime vet, she told us, was having her two sons there to celebrate with her.

All in all, the evening had its surprises, its humor and its sizzling-hot stars, making the night even hotter than the 90-degree-plus temps. Did this year's Daytime awards fire you up, or leave you cold? What was your take on the revamped annual tradition? - Anna Dimond

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