This morning, daytime fans and the daytime community learned the official plans for the 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.
The ceremonies which honor the best in daytime programming are back on television following a year that saw the show not only not on TV, but an online version that was met with extremely unfavorable reviews and red carpet debacles. Now with renewed vigor and a vengeance, NATAS is turning the page in a presentation they hope will make the event a “must-attend” and a “must-see” with their goal to respect, honor, celebrate, and return the glamour to the red carpet arrivals and the broadcast, and to have some fun along the way doing it.
Pop has emerged as the perfect television partner, who will air the telecast live on Sunday night, April 26th starting at 8PMET direct from the famed Stage 16 on the Warner Brothers Studios lot! According to NATAS, the final nomination announcements have been shifted now to Tuesday, March 31st, when we learn the names of the actors and the series vying for gold who will be a major part of the drama and excitement of the telecast.
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy telecast executive producer, Michael Levitt, and NATAS Daytime Senior Vice-President, David Michaels in their first joint interview to get some insight into their plans, their hopes, and the direction they see this year’s ceremonies heading. Plus, we learn that there are major talks in the works for an hour Red Carpet Pre-Show, and much more. Here’s what Michael and David shared!
David, there was so much backlash after last year’s Daytime Emmys. As someone who cares about the soaps and the daytime community, and being concerned about how the Emmys are perceived and presented, tell me your thoughts on the ceremonies coming back to television this year, and having Michael Levitt on board as the executive producer?
DAVID: I would like to look totally forward, except to say that none of the things that we had to apologize for last year are going to happen again, and part of the reason for that is Michael Levitt. I have actually wanted Michael to produce this show for a couple of years now, and so to finally be able to bring him in is really exciting to me and really relaxing for me.
Michael, you have done many notable award shows. Was producing the Daytime Emmys something that was even was on your radar?
MICHAEL: Quite honestly, I reached out to David and NATAS. I believe it was almost two years ago, because I was watching the telecast each year and feeling I could bring so much to it, and when I say I am a fan, I really mean that. When I produce any show, I don’t take on something that I am not excited, or passionate about. I would rather not do it. I felt like I could really make a difference with the Daytime Emmys, and really do justice to the community, and the great work that they do. I am so grateful that David and NATAS heard me out, and that we are where we are today.
Michael, have you been a fan of the soaps?
MICHAEL: I grew up as a latch-key kid watching TV on the couch almost every day, and it’s funny because my parents gave me a hard time about that. They felt that wasn’t being productive, and they would say, “Stop watching TV, and get out there and do other stuff!” So, you can imagine how much fun it was when I became a television producer, so I can then turn around and say, “Hey … that was all research!” (Laughs)
DAVID: Aside from all the other things that Michael is doing, he is the one that connected us to Pop originally. Michael got Pop all excited about us, and they told us they were excited about him.
What soaps did you watch then growing up?
MICHAEL: When I was a little kid and my friends were talking about the World Series and the Super Bowl, I was talking about Tad, Jenny, and Opal on All My Children!
DAVID: And I was talking about Jessie Brewer, the nurse on General Hospital. I loved her!
Michael, many of your award shows, such as the TV Land Awards, feature fun elements to it. How far do you see yourself taking the fun with the daytime community and audience during the upcoming telecast?
MICHAEL: I think there are so many awards show out there that I think that every award show that I produce has had memorable moments. And for me, that’s really a blend of reverence and irreverence. I think that first and foremost, the goal is to produce a beautiful show that is respectful to the community, and does justice to the great work that they do each year, but I don’t think that means that we can’t have a lot of fun. The fun I hope we can create is laughing with the community, not at the community. Listen, daytime has a lot of personality, and I think we would be remiss not to showcase that.
Category-wise, are we looking at all the soap categories being given out on-air, in addition to talk show, culinary, children’s programming etc?
DAVID: We have done a first pass, and we had long discussions with Pop. Everyone decided that two phenomenal hours would be better than a three-hour telecast. Although that is going to make a compact thrill-a-minute show, two hours is not a long time. I can tell you, you are not going to be missing any of the soap categories you are used to seeing.
MICHAEL: Truly, our goal is to fit as many awards into the broadcast, and create a nice balance for all the genres that comprise daytime.
DAVID: This show is about daytime and although everyone knows that the soap fans will drive the ratings and the excitement, we are really here to honor the entire daytime community.
Do you have a host wish list?
MICHAEL: That is on the agenda for this coming week, and my wheels are turning, and my list is very diverse. I will tell you, in having someone host the show, you want someone who is going to be a great traffic cop that is going to compliment the proceedings, and not work against it. That would be the goal in terms of who we pick to host the show.
It is very apparent from the choice of the venue this year (for the first time it is on the Warner Brothers Studio lot) that there is a big push to try to restore the glamour to the Daytime Emmys.
DAVID: I will tell you Chuck Dages, our chairman, and Bob Mauro, our president, both said from the beginning we need to bring back Hollywood glamour to the Daytime Emmys. I have never been so excited about a venue in my life. The red carpet will go down New York Street. Next, there will be a huge marquis on the Steven J. Ross Theatre that will say “42nd Annual Daytime Emmys”. It will give the feel of a Hollywood premiere, and then all the way down Brownstone Street is where the pre-party is going to be, and if you continue down Brownstone Street that is where Stage 16 is, which is the biggest soundstage in the country! That is where Casablanca was filmed and 50 other things. I don’t know how much more glamorous you can get!
Stage 16 on the Warner Brothers lot where the telecast and the ceremonies will be held is a very large space. Would you say that’s a good thing, or a challenging thing, when it comes to the production of the show and its overall look and feel?
MICHAEL: It really doesn’t pose a problem, and being on soundstage is great and my preference when producing award shows, because it achieves both. It feels big and yet intimate. People will be sitting at tables. The great thing about having this on a soundstage is; it is like a blank canvas. You are not committed to a specific look, and so you can go in any direction. We are really excited to transform this room into a beautiful environment to celebrate Daytime’s biggest night of the year.
DAVID: It will be this gorgeous ballroom, basically. We were in the soundstage when it was empty and it’s just a little bit smaller than Rhode Island! We are working very closely with the special events department at Warner Brothers, in addition to all of their technical departments. Hilary Harris, who is the Director of Special Events, creates magic at least two times a week there. They don’t usually do award shows on the stage, but they do major parties and events in there all the time. We have seen pictures of the street, and the soundstage, and what they have done at Warner Brothers is unbelievable.
Will there be an hour Red Carpet Pre-Show?
DAVID: I am very encouraged that we will get a televised pre-show. We are in very strong negotiations that happened just the other day with a major outlet, and plus we are discussing having a live-stream of the red carpet as well. We would like to have as many things going at once as possible. I said the other day, when we were pitching this televised pre-show, “It’s going to be the most gorgeous red carpet that has ever existed for the Daytime Emmys. We need the fans, and America to see this.” There will be bleachers for fan to sit on for the first time in years!
Last year, the Daytime Emmys worked social media very heavily for the first time in its history. Will social media be worked in as an important component in the telecast?
MICHAEL: Absolutely! In 2015, it’s impossible to do an award show and not have a social media presence. That will be our challenge of how to integrate that into the show, in what I hope will be a creative and unique way.
David, what can you share about this year’s competition?
DAVID: A big part of my job is to run the Daytime Emmy competition, and the blue-ribbon voting is going to kick-off this week. So, I have been doing watching the entries. I can tell you there is amazing stuff in there, and every year I am just an awe of the soap actors, because of what they do, and how much of it they do, and how talented they all are. After the nominations come out, we will again post the reels of the performances for everyone to see. The talk show reels are also amazing, too. One of the largest categories this year are the culinary shows and culinary hosts, and those are amazing reels, as well. The key there is to not watch them hungry! (Laughs)
Soap fans have been outraged when former telecast executive producers have moved, or tried to move the Outstanding Daytime Drama Series as the final award of the night. Could you see that category being the grand finale of the festivities?
MICHAEL: I think it’s premature to commit to that, but what I will say is that I definitely acknowledge how the soaps drive daytime, and the excitement of those categories and who wins, and so naturally it would be something I would be inclined to do, because I think it’s such a great build-up to the end of the show. However, we also have to look at pacing and balance. We all think that the end of the show is the climax, but when you do these kind of shows, you want to open big, and you want to have something strong when you are bridging the hour. Of course, you want the entire show to be compelling, but there are certain points in the show where you know something is going to be riveting and exciting for the viewer, and so it’s all about balance.
Michael, with everything that has happened over the last several years to the Daytime Emmys, do you feel a huge weight on your shoulders taking this gig on … and that this show really has to be more than good?
MICHAEL: I do, but I also feel really confident that I, along with everyone at the Academy, and the Pop Network, are going to nail it, and hit it out of the ballpark, and deliver a show that makes the daytime community really proud.
DAVID: I will admit that we all feel pretty pressured; it’s a very important year. I think it’s a rebirth for the Daytime Emmys, and for Michael and the people at Pop, the Emmys will be on the night of their first May Sweeps, so everyone has a lot on the line here.
Will Pop heavily promote the Daytime Emmy telecast leading up to the big night? In the past several years, on-air promotion lacked from other networks carrying the telecast to the point where some fans were confused up until the night of for where to catch the ceremonies!
DAVID: Yes, and it’s a great thing working with Pop. Brad Schwartz (President, Pop) and his team have had some really creative ideas, and we are collaborating with them. By working with Pop, we are working with Lionsgate, and we are working with CBS. So, that opens up a lot of opportunities for promotion.
MICHAEL: Pop is such a great fit because they already run soaps, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful on their network, and their branding is all about the fans. The entire network is about being fan-centric. I am happy to say having worked with many networks that the people at Pop really get it. They want this to be as successful as we do. They are entrusting us to deliver a show that is going to be really well-received by the fans of the daytime community, and so they put a lot of faith in us and have given us the leeway to make a great show. There is a lot on the line for them, too. It’s in everyone’s best interest to be great partners to make a show that will be appreciated for many years to come, and send this franchise on the right trajectory. It’s so important we get this right.
So, what do you think about the potential of this year’s Daytime Emmy telecast after reading our chat with Michael Levitt and David Michaels? Do you feel the Emmys are good hands as production gets underway? Share your thoughts below!