On Friday, May 20, 2005, for the 32nd time, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) honored the best and brightest stars of daytime television with its annual Daytime Emmys ceremony. But while the yearly awards bash is meant to be a celebration, there was definitely a palpable feeling of uncertainty looming over the event, much the way the darkened, rain-filled clouds hugged the tops of Manhattan's famous skyline.
Just two years after the nominations process underwent an overhaul, controversy still dogs the Daytime Emmy ceremony. For years, many network executives claimed that the Emmy balloting process was unfair. Due to the way that voting process had been conducted, the shows with the largest casts were often able to tweak their votes in a way that helped them place more of their performers on the Emmy final ballot. Changes implemented in 2003 limited each program to a maximum of two nominations in each category. But now, the screening process has come under fire. On one side, the media has blasted NATAS for not allowing the screening of each nominee's Emmy clips. NATAS, however, worries that media reporting on the Emmy clips may sway voters in a particular direction. In a last minute deal, NATAS agreed to allow the media to screen the tapes - but not until after the voting had been conducted. Meanwhile, the soap media argued that there wasn't enough time to view the clips and report on them before Emmy night.
Further tarnishing the luster of the famous golden statuette were claims that soaps produced on the East Coast (ABC's All My Children and One Life to Live and CBS's As the World Turns and Guiding Light) were not given the same representation in the Creative Arts voting pool as their West Coast counterparts. Due to a rule change and union representation, some members who had been previously eligible to vote were no longer permitted to cast ballots.
The hubbub seemed overblown as the top three winners of Emmys in the technical categories were... East Coast-based soaps. In fact, All My Children, As the World Turns and One Life to Live grabbed 9 of the 13 Emmys handed out in the Creative Arts ceremony, held May 13th.
With so much pre-Emmy bickering, it was quite easy to forget the real purpose of the night - to honor daytime television, a genre of television programming that has been entertaining fans since the 1950s.