First, the big soap cliffhanger.
The simple reason for that lopsided result may be that, as the soap bubble continues to pop (NBC's "Passions" was the latest show of that genre to expire), CBS has half of the remaining dramas on the tube (four of eight). One of them, ratings king "Young and the Restless" led with a whopping tally of 17 Emmy noms, including three widely criticized bids in the race for best younger actress. However, a CBS show that did well last year, "Bold and the Beauitful," reaped only nine, failing to score a repeat bid for best series.
So there goes that conspiracy theory.
The biggest news among the drama races was the surprisingly strong showing for "Days of Our Lives," a West Coast series in danger of being canceled (the last soap on NBC). Because it skews young, missing the average TV academy age demographic, it seldom gets top bids, but it reaped four rare acting nominations, including a shockeroo for Thaao Penghlis in the lead-actor race.
"Clearly, the TV industry threw 'Days' a bone in order to help keep it alive," says veteran soap journalist Nelson Branco of TV Guide Canada.
This year, scandal rocked voting in the soap categories as many academy members rebelled against the newest changes in ballot procedure. Recently, the TV academy gave the TV series' casts the responsibility of deciding which actors should be considered for awards. Over the past few years, each show advanced the names of two actors in each category, who then submitted two sample episodes of their best work to Emmy judges for review. The new arrangement was hugely unpopular because actors complained that they were being subjected to the cruelty and unfairness of cliques within each show.
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"Who gets put forth for nomination at 'Young and the Restless' is now decided more by who fetches the morning coffee than who does the best work!" fumed Victoria Rowell as she quit the show in outrage last year after being snubbed by her peers for Emmy consideration.
This year, to accommodate more actors, the academy asked each cast to increase the number of candidates per category to three, but that only caused a new problem. Emmy voters judging one acting category now had to evaluate two episodes from up to three actors at nine soaps. That's more than two-dozen TV episodes.
An actor told Soap Opera Weekly: "Someone already told me they don't have time to watch all the tapes. They are just going to vote for their friends." In recent days more and more voters have also admitted that they didn't view all of the video samples.
The result: Next year it's likely that additional Emmy voting reforms will be enacted.
In the non-soap categories there was one shocking omission that signaled a sea change in the daytime TV industry. Longtime Emmy fave "The Martha Stewart Show" wasn't nominated anywhere, not even in the lowly crafts races.
The reason turned out to be that she didn't, for the first time ever, enter her program for competition. A spokesman said that was "because there was no current category that addresses the unique hybrid format of our series," but the categories she might have competed in this year are identical to the ones she entered last year -- and lost.
Her recent bad Emmy luck may have more to do with why Martha has thrown in the tea towel. While voters stood faithfully by her for years, even heaping top awards for best show or host upon her after she got sprung from prison, she's been mostly snubbed for the last two years. Based on her past support, it's evident that voters didn't hold an old scandal against her. The reason for her decline in popularity within the TV academy is probably due to changing TV tastes.
And those changes are The Big Emmy Story this year. Replacing the often stiff, officious "Martha Stewart Show" in the lifestyle categories are more spicy, dishy shows like "Barefoot Contessa," "Boy Meets Grill" and "Nigella Express" on the Food Network.
Last year the Discovery Channel's new "Cash Cab" program -- which contains many elements of the edgy reality-show genre -- surprisingly zoomed into the race for best game-show host with a nomination for Ben Bailey. This year he not only returns, but "Cash Cab" crashed into the contest for best game show too, bumping out a more traditional stalwart with money in its title -- "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
Leave it to the kids' categories to reveal the newest, young crop of Emmy contenders. In the race for best preschool children's series there are nominees from fledging cable networks Noggin ("Jack's Big Music Show") and Nick Jr. ("Blue's Room").
"Cause Effect," a program nominated for best special-class series, is aired on a TV network that only exists on some college campuses: MTVU. It's nominated against two shows on E! Entertainment's spinoff channel the Style Network: "Split Ends" and "Instant Beauty Pageant."
The new category for best legal/courtroom program may give us a verdict of what the future of TV portends in a multilingual world. Among the nominees is "Christina's Court," which was launched on Telemundo, then syndicated to U.S. channels.