If you live under a rock, maybe you don't know: The Daytime Emmys just happen to be the biggest awards show of the year, next to the Oscars and the primetime Emmys. And the Tonys. And probably the Grammys, too. And maybe the Espys. Oh yeah, and the CableAce Awards, for sure. And... and...
Okay, fine. So, since perennial also-ran Susan Lucci finally won one of the damn things in 1999, the Daytime Emmys have been pretty pointless. Heck, even she seems to know it. Though the All My Children melodrama queen was again a nominee at Friday night's 28th annual ceremony, she didn't attend, but instead appeared via satellite from her and Regis Philbin's Atlantic City cabaret gig. And why should she have gone? It's not like the show provides the excitement of wondering whether Robert Downey Jr. is going to get busted onstage or the suspense of watching J. Lo read off a TelePrompter, her ample bosom promising to burst forth at any second from a barely-there gown.
No, if there was one compelling reason to even tune in to NBC's live broadcast of the proceedings celebrating the finest in soap operas and children's programming, as well as game and talk shows, it was the chance to see a couple dozen C- and D-list celebrities all dolled up and being treated like they were A- and B-list. That, and it provided a golden opportunity to poke fun at those same bottom-drawer personalities, among them:
Kathie Lee Gifford: While the emcee pulled off a monologue (accompanied by clips from her post-Live projects) that played like an audition tape for more primetime work, former co-host Philbin refused to let the glamour girl get away with an opening skit that portrayed her as a down-to-earth Everywoman. "This is the first time I've ever seen you get out of a cab," he cracked.
Worse, Gifford's Live successor, wiseacre Kelly Ripa, showed her up simply by showing up. The mom-to-be displayed her superior comic timing by joking that she was having a hard time filling Gifford's shoes. "Of course," she added, "in my present condition, it's not easy fitting into anything these days."
On the plus side, Gifford is to be commended for keeping references to her husband and children to what surely is her all-time low: three.
Lesli Kay: Apparently mistaking herself for Julia Roberts, the As the World Turns supporting actress victor continued her list of thank-you's long moments after the band was struck up and the camera, pulled back.
LeVar Burton: Proving that in Reading Rainbow — operative word: reading — he has found his ideal vehicle, the linguist said in accepting the program's prize for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series, "One never knows, do one?" Next time, LeVar, bring a cheat sheet. (And, to be on the safe side, a proofreader.)
Barbara Walters: Wearing a dress with sleeves pouffy enough to hide Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O'Donnell, The View ringleader officially brought down her level of credibility as a journalist to nil.
Juliet Mills: And speaking of fashion victims...! The erstwhile Nanny only plays a witch on Passions. So why did she curse herself by presenting in what appeared to be a black gypsy hammock?
Adrienne Frantz: Claiming her Outstanding Younger Actress statuette, the ingenue from The Bold and the Beautiful nearly hyperventilated, her Betty Boop voice rising to a pitch that only dogs could hear. "I promised everyone I wouldn't cry," she panted. Wait until you're only eligible for the older actress categories, kid!
Paul Rauch: In soap circles, the Guiding Light executive producer is a cigar-champing big cheese. Nonetheless, when his side project was heralded as the Outstanding Children's Special, his real-world relevance was revealed — he was misidentified as Raul Rauch. Ouch.
Ingo Rademacher: The General Hospital himbo's triumphant comeback next month (after striking out in primetime) is presently the hot topic among afternoon TV aficionados. So, how did the Aussie choose to make his big public reappearance? By styling himself like Dobie Gillis's beatnik buddy, Maynard G. Krebs. (Maybe it's not too late for GH to get Paul Hogan instead.)
The heavy set: As the World Turns scribe Hogan Sheffer (brother of Craig Sheffer from A River Runs Through It) took time out from his Outstanding Drama Series Writing acceptance speech to jovially address his jumbo size — "Remember, the camera adds 500 pounds!" he chuckled. Thus, the juxtaposition of his triumph with Gifford's introduction of Today's Al Roker as one of the tube's "best loved and best fed weathermen" seemed just plain cruel. (Even more mortifying, Roker tossed to a montage devoted to food, glorious food.)
Roger Howarth: As if he was still trying to justify his own Emmy win, the One Life to Live anti-hero attempted to energize the ghastly presenter patter that had been scripted for him and castmate Erika Slezak. Doesn't he get that, at an award show, it's considered a triumph so long as you don't stutter or call Paul Rauch Raul?
Martha Byrne: While her off-screen husband sat in the audience trying not to pull a Chad Lowe, the As the World Turns best actress thanked her on-screen spouse, Jon Hensley, for "15 years of sexual tension." Then, exhibiting so much enthusiasm that you'd swear she'd just made homecoming court, she concluded her speech by hooting, "Whoo! Let's party!"
La Lucci: Upon hearing Philbin's name called as best talk show host, the diva cooed, in her patented faux-sincere tone, "Oh, Regis, congratulations! So well-deserved!"
Rosie O'Donnell: Clutching her fifth best talk show host trophy, Ms. Nice Guy gave a special shout-out to "Kelly, who slept on the floor of the ICU and kept them from cutting off my finger" after she was hospitalized with a hand injury. Assuming she wasn't referring to Kelly Ripa, who's Kelly? Is there something you'd like to share with the class, Rosie? C'mon, out with it!