Believe it or not, the biggest controversy at the 28th annual Daytime Emmy Awards did not involve General Hospital's Ingo Rademacher (that hairdo!), The Bold and the Beautiful's Adrienne Frantz (that voice!) or Regis Philbin's long-overdue double win for Live and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (that poor Kathie Lee Gifford!). No, the real debate of the night as determined by backstage scuttlebutt concerned CBS's As the World Turns, and who really is responsible for the show's miraculous resurgence that culminated in eight Emmy wins (including Outstanding Drama Series and Writing Team).
Although many believe new head writer Hogan Sheffer deserves the credit since taking over in August, he re-energized the 45-year-old soap with "a sense of humor and really fast storytelling" those associated with ATWT weren't so quick to proclaim him their comeback kid. "It's a collaborative effort," insisted executive producer Christopher Goutman. "Hogan is a great creative person [and] I think [he] is a big part of this, but [the Emmy] is shared by everyone. I think to designate anyone including myself is unfair to everyone."
Lesli Kay, who was named best supporting actress for her role as ATWT's Molly, cited an aggressive Rock the Vote campaign as the secret to their Emmy success. (For some perspective, ATWT came into the ceremony with 25 nominations; last year, they received just six.) "I think what happened in the past was we [assumed] that everyone was going to get their ballots and put a stamp on it and get it in the mail," she explained. "This year, we were asked to fill out our ballots and bring it in on a certain day, just like elementary school."
Sheffer himself downplayed talk that he was the man of the hour, calling such chatter "short-sighted... It's just an amazing team." Still, leading lady Martha Byrne who won the coveted best actress statue for her dual role as twin sisters Lily and Rose acknowledged that "you have to start with the writing. Build great story and they will come."
In addition to the great ATWT debate, here are some other mini-dramas that had people talking...
Moments after winning younger actor kudos, The Bold and the Beautiful's Justin Torkildsen watched on a backstage monitor as his TV wife, Adrienne Frantz, accepted her award for younger actress. Sadly, even though he made a point of thanking Frantz during his time on-stage, she didn't return the favor. "I'm not going to give her hell," he later said. "Honestly, when you get up there, there are just so many people and so much going on... it's very intimidating. I'd like to thank everyone in the world, but we do what we can." Later, a giddy Frantz admitted she was "brain-dead" and added, "I'm going to thank Justin right now!"
Speaking of Frantz, the 22-year-old actress revealed backstage that she had been the victim of a pre-Emmy crisis one that may help to explain her scatterbrained behavior that evening. "My limo got into a car accident on the way to the awards," she said. "Right in my side where I was sitting. I was freaking out." If you're not buying that excuse, Frantz also confessed that she's "kind of a quirky person."
ATWT's historic victory march only served to reinforce the troubles currently plaguing fellow Procter & Gamble soap Guiding Light, which is in the throes of a major creative meltdown. (TV Guide's Michael Logan recently called the sudser "unbearable.") Of course, that would explain why executive producer Paul Rauch having just won an Emmy for producing the children's special Run the Wild Fields was in no mood to answer questions about the show. "Ask me at another time," he snapped. "This isn't the right place to answer that."
Michael Davies Emmy-winning executive producer of Who Wants to be a Millionaire shrugged off ABC's decision to air the game show only two nights a week in the fall (down from four). "I can safely say we will be on more than two nights [by] midseason," he predicted. Davies also confirmed that, beginning next season, one of Millionaire's two weekly editions will be celebrity-themed. In fact, he even hinted that "we are considering doing a soap special."
With 13 wins, Price Is Right host Bob Barker may be the most honored individual in Emmy history, but he was still disappointed that Philbin beat him as best game show host. "I'd rather have it myself," he cracked.
All My Children's David Canary, who picked up his fifth lead actor Emmy, was asked about the soap's lousy ratings of late. "I really try not to [focus on] such things," he said, acknowledging, however, that, "I did have a talk with [executive producer] Jean [Dadario Burke] the other day and she was bemoaning that fact." Canary nonetheless said, "Morale on that show is really quite good. We're still having a good time."
Rosie O'Donnell a double winner for best talk show and talk show host got a big thumbs down from reporters when, after posing for pictures, she decided not to make her way to the print press room. Ditto for GH's Rademacher and Emmy host Gifford.
On the flipside, the Emmy for class act goes to ATWT's Byrne, who solidified her reputation as one of daytime's coolest anti-divas by sticking around until near-midnight to answer reporters' questions. What's more, she added some emotional weight to an otherwise shallow evening when asked about ATWT's late, legendary headwriter Douglas Marland whose passing in 1993 marked the beginning of ATWT's eight year slump. "He finally let our show go," she said. "It took a long time. We always felt like he didn't want anybody else to succeed with his show, and now with Hogan there, he has let our show have peace, which is really unselfish of him. It was time to move on."