By Michael Fairman
Originally published on Advocate.com July 02 2010 12:55 PM ET
I spent last weekend in Sin City, Las Vegas — where else would I be? The 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards marked the first time daytime soaps met slot machines and blackjack tables — where The Bold and the Beautiful’s ingenue Kim Matula (Hope Logan) could stand on the red carpet with the Blue Man Group. (You can see that moment Saturday on my Emmy microsite).
This year’s Emmys marked the first time the broadcast — which was saved from extinction by CBS and Associated Television International — wrapped the daytime genre around the theme of Vegas, in hopes of invigorating ailing ratings, which had been slipping for the last few years. Early reports are in, and the Nielsen numbers are up in total households from the last few years.
That said, many soap fans and followers of the genre were disappointed at the lack of clips of the nominated daytime soap opera performances and with the As the World Turns tribute package. At least there was one bright note for gay viewers of the ATWT package — it actually showed Luke and Noah kissing! And to answer many queries, no, I had nothing to do with the clip package this year, as I did last year for the now-infamously shortened Guiding Light tribute. As many know, I later put the full version online.
But the biggest disappointment of the night for many across the gay globe was Crystal Chappell not winning her predicted Lead Actress Emmy for her portrayal of Olivia Spencer on Guiding Light. Yes, hard to believe. Her scenes where Olivia professed her love for Natalia at Gus’s graveside have now become a soap classic. At the NBC after-party following the telecast, I think I was more upset than Crystal, and she spent more time consoling me. Not good.
Earlier that night on the red carpet, Crystal had this to say to me about the Otalia experience and her Emmy luck:
“I am a huge fan of the story they gave me. I am very lucky that my peers liked it. You know what? I had an experience a few years ago when I was nominated, when everyone came up to me, saying, ‘You’re going to win, you’re going to win.’ And I am going, ‘Oh, God.’ And I didn’t win, and then everyone was really embarrassed, and they kind of avoided me the whole night. So not only did I get screwed with the Emmy [laughs], I got ignored. So I take it with a whole grain of salt, and I am lucky to be here. I am lucky to have another job at this point, and I am a grateful girl, and somebody gave me a $25 Vegas chip.”
Crystal also talked about how much the support of LGBT viewers has meant to her.
“I said this before, but this came into my life for a reason, and while I have many gay friends, this was brought to me so I can learn what needs to be done, and it’s gotten me much more involved. And now I am fighting for the rights of not only the gay community, but my friends who never spoke to me before about it. [Laughs] It was really something I needed to learn about.”
Crystal lost her Emmy bid to As the World Turns’ Maura West, who in her final months (ATWT goes off the air in September) as Carly Tenney took home her second gold lady in her soap-tastic career.
Many of your other LGBT faves strutted their stuff and had some very interesting things to say on the Vegas carpet. First up, Eden Riegel — when she appeared the crowd went nuts inside the Las Vegas Hilton casino. Eden was one of the few soap stars to actually lift the red rope barricade and go over to say hello and take some pictures with her admirers. Now, that I thought was commendable and a bit risky.
In her new role as D.A. Heather Stevens on The Young and the Restless, it looks as though she has the hots for Chance (John Driscoll), who is the love interest of Riegel’s former All My Children gal pal and on-screen lover Elizabeth Hendrickson (ex-Maggie, AMC, now Chloe, Y&R). Add to this the arrival of past Emmy winner Jeff Branson as Ronan, and we can tell you there are some major, shocking changes coming. Riegel recounted the first time she, Driscoll, and Hendrickson all had a scene together. “The first scenes we had together, I was kind of making eyes at Liz, and there was sort of a sexual thing going on. I went, Uh-oh, wrong show, Eden. You got to put that under wraps. That was in rehearsal. So I said to myself, I have to look like I hate her. I have to look like I hate her. I had to look at her forehead and pretend she is somebody else. Now I am getting better at it, and I narrow my eyes and look like I don’t like her. I love Elizabeth. She is the best part of this whole experience, and we are incredibly close. We have been having a great time, and she helped me look for dresses for the Emmys. She is a fashonista! She knows what she is doing.”
Then I asked if Eden had watched Christina Bennett Lind, her replacement as Bianca on All My Children. Riegel, who had to make one of the most emotional decisions of her life to turn away from Pine Valley and head to Genoa City, expressed her admiration for Bianca 2.0. “Christina is phenomenal,” she said. “ I watched her whole first and second week. I was curious. It is a show I love and a character I love. I thought, What are they going to do? But she is perfect and has chops and owned it. I am thrilled with her as Bianca. I communicate with her and I can’t wait to meet her. She is a theater girl, so I know I am going to like her. She is doing a fantastic job at hitting it out of the park.”
Later, Eden’s dear friend and former on-screen mother, soap legend Susan Lucci (Erica), chatted with me on the red carpet. Susan was in Sin City to honor Agnes Nixon, the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. La Lucci is on her summer hiatus from AMC but decided to stall her planned vacation to Europe to pay tribute to her mentor and the woman who gave birth to Erica Kane. All gay men should thank Agnes officially here now. Lucci admitted, “I owe everything to Agnes Nixon. I would say we all wouldn’t be here tonight if it wasn’t for Agnes. She is the one who really took the genre into modern times and raised the bar so high and brought humor to daytime. It has always been Agnes who drove the character of Erica. I would read the scripts and gasp, ‘Oh, I am so lucky to play this character!’”
Backstage in the press room, I had the opportunity to ask Agnes (pictured) about her proudest accomplishments in her career, and she did not disappoint, alluding to subjects pertinent, vital, and historic in all of our lives.
“I think I am proudest of the social issues we have done. I mean Jesse and Angie, the first African-American couple. We did stories on child abuse. I am so grateful from the reaction of the public to so many of it. On the subject of AIDS, we did a year story on that and homosexuality; with Eden playing Bianca, that became so popular. I got letters from women who would say, ‘If I could have only seen this show when I was a teenager.’ And so that has been very gratifying. Besides the social issues, I think we brought humor to daytime. And a world without laughter, I do not care to live in. No matter how bad things get, we can always add a smile. And I wanted the audience to look at the Adam Chandlers and the Palmer Cortlandts and sometimes even Erica Kane. I want the audience to say about the worst character on a soap opera show, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ Because, no matter how evil a person is, they can change. That’s why I wrote that piece: ‘The rich and the poor. The weak and the strong, In joy and in sorrow. In tragedy and triumph. You are All My Children.’ My theory is ... the brotherhood of man.”
Who doesn’t love the gospel according to Aggie, in an age when soaps are fighting for survival and she is the only living example of the original soap opera writers and creators!
Y&R’s Clementine Ford (Mac) and I enjoyed our red carpet moment while her partner, songwriter extraordinaire Linda Perry, hid from us. Ford, who had recently admitted to quitting smoking in life in general, said it’s rough being in Vegas, especially in the smoke-filled rooms, hallways, casinos, and ... well everywhere: “There is so much smoke here I almost threw up.”
I echoed her sentiment.
On her current story line, in which Mac is being sued for her amniotic fluid from the twins she is carrying as a surrogate, Clementine weighed in: “He is suing me for my amniotic fluid ... I think it took me four tries to not burst into laughter, it so ridiculous. But also, it’s very dramatic, and there is some big stuff coming up.”
Ford’s mom, Cybill Shepherd, was recently honored by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation at the final awards ceremony of the year in San Francisco with the prestigious Golden Gate Award, which is given to an individual who has increased the visibility and understanding of LGBT people in the media. Clementine said it was a great moment for her family.
“My sister came with her girlfriend, and I came with Linda, who is being my assistant tonight. [Laughs] We got to give that award to my mom, and it was so nice to be there. Filmmaker Lee Daniels was also honored. He gave such a moving incredible speech. It was a great night.”
It was also a great night for The Bold and the Beautiful. TV's only half-hour soap was victorious in both the Drama Series and writing categories. All My Children’s much-maligned Reese and Bianca same-sex wedding episode — the one with the vows being said while runaway Greenlee is on a motorcycle and gets driven off the road by an upset Kendall and Zach (because Zach kissed Reese the night before her wedding to Bianca) — was somehow nominated as well, for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
Thank God, B&B’s head writer Brad Bell’s dying with dignity episodes featuring 2010’s star of the year, 88-year-old Betty White, defeated the worst misstep in same-sex soap story line history. In the pressroom Bell was elated and said, “This was an incredible story that came to life with Betty White. And this is the first time in her legendary career that she died on television. I feel honored to have her do this for us.”
B&B recently had the soap jaw-dropper of the year when in a case of mistaken identity, young hottie Oliver — played by Emmy nominee Zack Conroy — “accidentally” had sex with his girlfriend Hope’s much older, sexy mother, Brooke, played by Katherine Kelly Lang. Think White Party: masks, people wearing the same outfit, thumping music, drugs, booze, and doing it pressed up against a wall in front of everybody. This sound familiar? Well, the now-notorious scene — which we lovingly call in soapland “The Party Boink” — had many of us abuzz in the pressroom. So, we had to ask the award-winning Bell, why he chose to have this startling hookup. “It started with me hearing the music of Daddy Yankee [who performed on the episodes], and then my mind started going to demented places. I was so happy and it felt so good. I thought if we could have an accidental act that would come out of it and drop some jaws, that would be great. Then Brooke, lo and behold, had an off night.” [Laughs]
So where were soap’s sexiest studs on Emmy night? B&B’s Brandon Beemer’s gal, Days of Our Lives’ Nadia Bjorlin, told me what she thinks of her man when he does all those sexy photo spreads: “I look at him and I admire, and I think he is doable, and I say that every day.” Beemer (pictured) replied, “I am doable after a lot of Photoshop.”After which Bjorlin clarified, “I don’t think there has ever been a picture of Brandon that needs to be Photoshopped — it doesn’t need to be.” Enough said.
Nadia was my special Emmy fashion contributor. You can read her Emmy fashion trend report and see a gallery of fashional babes and studs on my website.
However, my favorite red carpet quip of the night came from my pal, Days of Our Lives’ Galen Gering (Rafe). When asked how he was feeling tonight. Galen exclaimed, “You know, I am looking down, and I had my appendix taken out a month ago. I thought I was supposed to have dissolvable stitches. So I am looking down and I am going, ‘I still have six stitches in there.’ So if anyone knows a good malpractice lawyer, I am shopping for one right now.”
But the gent who stood tall among the rest was As the World Turns’ sensational Michael Park, who after 13 years as heroic Jack Snyder received his long-overdue Emmy. With Park in tears, the pressroom in cheers, it was truly the moment of the night. And oh, how bittersweet. Park, along with Van Hansis, Jake Silbermann, Eric Sheffer Stevens, and others, finished taping the final episodes of As the World Turns just three days prior to the Emmys.
As for all the parties, debauchery, and sin with the soapers, I attended parties at Club Mix at Mandalay Bay, the Palazzo, and my favorite, at Wynn’s Tryst Nightclub, thrown by the Bells, Maria and Brad, for their shows Y&R and B&B. And as they say, that has got to be the end of my Emmy report, because “What happens in Vegas ... stays in Vegas.” You can see some party pics here.
Is Phillip Chancellor III coming back from the Outback to Genoa City?
Greg in Hollywood posted Thursday that he talked to The Young and the Restless co-executive producer Paul Rauch on the Daytime Emmy red carpet. After expressing his disappointment of the fizzled return of Phillip Chancellor III, played by out actor Thom Bierdz (pictured), he asked the head honcho what is up with the lack of gay story in Genoa City. Rauch retorted, “Maybe you should keep looking at the show ... July might be a good time. We won’t disappoint you.” Then, in an e-mail to all his colleagues and his professional mailing list, Bierdz said, “I can’t comment on that.” We are hearing some major rumblings that there could be some changes afloat with the Chancellor family by the end of the summer. Stay tuned!
Vote in Adonis 2010!
It’s week 5 of the Soaphunks.net Adonis 2010 competition. Last week The Young and the Restless’s Daniel Goddard (Cane) was kicked off “hunk” island, leaving eight castaways. And they are: B&B’s Brandon Beemer (Owen), General Hospital’s Brandon Barash (Johnny) and Dominic Zamprogna (Dante), Days’ Shawn Christian (Daniel), James Scott (EJ), and Galen Gering (Rafe), One Life to Live’s David Gregory (Ford), and ATWT’s Jake Silbermann (Noah). You can vote today for your favorite pair of pecs, six-pack abs, and all-around smoldering good looks now through July 6. The contestant who receives the fewest number of votes at the end of the voting period will be eliminated from the contest. You may vote once per day per e-mail & IP address.
“Francophrenia!” James Franco is back on GH with his mom Betsy in tow!
On today’s episode of General Hospital, Jason and Dante go searching for Franco’s mother, Karen Anderson. Only when they open the door, Karen looks a lot like actor James Franco’s real-life mother — because it is! Betsy Franco joins the cast of the soap for several episodes, where we learn more about the obsessed artist Franco’s past. And what of his bizarre attraction to mob hit man Jason Morgan? Well, you will just have to keep watching. Faithful fans are promised a culmination of all story arcs when Franco’s art exhibit “Francophrenia” has its opening at WeHo’s own MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) at the Pacific Design Center. In the meantime, check out my new interview with Mr. Franco, conducted with the motion picture and now soap star just two days ago.
Till next time,