RYAN: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." Boy, if 2007 was ever a year to relate OLTL to the immortal words of Charles Dickens, this was it. Half the year, viewers were left with no other option than to wear out the fast-forward button on the remote control or to turn off the television altogether under the control of Dena Higley. Then the other half of the year, many viewers found themselves waiting with baited breath until the next episode would air under the auspices of Ron Carlivati. But it's also that time of the year to reflect back on the PERFORMANCES that we watched throughout 2007. Sometimes when viewers criticize the show or heap praises upon it, they all tend to focus on the writers, but we should remember that the talented actors and actresses are the ones who take the mere words that appear on paper and turn them into raw emotion. With the Emmy ballots out in the hands of each cast who must nominate three performers in each category to be submitted as "Pre-nominees," I think that it's important to weigh in on who should be recognized for outstanding work in 2007. The most obvious (and perhaps) easiest place to start is with the "Outstanding Lead Actress" category. Without the slightest hesitation, it is obvious that Erika Slezak will be nominated again for her featured role in the Paris, Texas storyline. Just as Susan Lucci is synonymous with "All My Children" or Anthony Geary is synonymous with "General Hospital," daytime icon Erika Slezak IS "One Life to Live," and I'm thrilled that she has regained her position as the heart of the show. I love that Viki has rediscovered a new purpose in life, and to see her create a new life in Texas and form new relationships has deepened Viki's character. Slezak has had an opportunity to play comedy and drama, often within the same episodes. Seeing her earn another nomination will be expected. Robin Strasser has also earned a nod in my eyes during her scenes involving an orphaned Langston. We all know that Strasser's forte is playing the vindictive and manipulative diva, but it's refreshing to also watch her play protective foster mother. I think this will be Strasser's chance to earn a place on the nomination card as well. I also would have placed Kathy Brier in the lead category, but she's submitted under "Supporting Actress" this year. I'm not sure how I feel about that, especially since the last few months have completely revolved around Marcie and Tommy. If any actress had a "lead" story this year, it was certainly Brier, and to place her in "Supporting" minimizes the impact that her story had on the whole canvas. Don't you agree?
DENISE: Slezak and Strasser would definitely top my list of "nods" for Lead Actress. Both women generated a myriad of strong performances as Viki and Dorian assumed different "roles" on the canvas this past year. Asa's death was truly a turning point for Viki's character, because that launched the Paris, TX storyline and repositioned Erika Slezak as the show's foundational character, as you discussed. Dorian and Viki had a slew of confrontations - most of which centered on Clint - and they really served to reinforce the phenomenal work Strasser and Slezak put forth. I also think Kassie DePaiva turned out strong performances this year. Perhaps she had a beefier reel in '06, but she put forth some great material early in the year as the Spencer debacle was wrapping up and throughout the past 2-3 months. Blair suddenly morphed from a state of victimization to one of being empowered (which is due to improved writing), and this was reflected within DePaiva's performances. I definitely believe Slezak and Strasser will top the ballot this year, though I concur 100% that Kathy Brier has earned the right to represent that category for the show. Now as far as the Outstanding Lead Actor category is concerned, I think Bob Woods and Trevor St. John are shoe-ins. First of all, the work Woods put forth during Asa's death and funeral was stellar. Cast, critics and viewers alike were singing his praises, and the material he generated for those scenes thrust him back into the spotlight in terms of where Bo is positioned on the canvas. Woods was mainstream throughout the year and Bo's character was woven into enough storylines, from the OPP to Paige exiting to reconnecting with Lindsay, so I think he definitely has a solid reel. The same holds true for St. John. He gave an amazing performance when Todd exposed the reading of Spencer's will for the mockery it was, and add that to what he puts forth every single day and in the wake of the baby Tommy storyline, and he has one formidable reel under his belt. I think his reel would be over-the-top if St. John hadn't been off the canvas due to contract negotiations, because he would've generated more amazing work as Todd coped with what happened to Evangeline, but I still think he has a strong reel.
RYAN: Well, I half-agree with your Lead Actor picks. Firstly, Woods definitely had an opportunity to strut his stuff during August's farewell to Asa Buchanan. As the grieving son, his moments of grief and remorse and misery in the stable were those of tour de force acting! I'm really happy that Woods is regaining a foothold in Llanview. And like you said, getting him away from that insipid doctor romantically and repositioning him with Lindsay has really made me interested in him as a character. Although Lindsay has done some horrid things to him in the past, I'm fascinated that he's able to look beyond that and give her a second chance a decade later. His reel is filled with those tender moments with Catherine Hickland along with some strong moments with on-screen brother Jerry verDorn...which brings me to your pick of Trevor St. John. I'm going to be very unpopular with a lot of readers for saying this, but I just didn't find Todd interesting at all after the departure of Renee Goldsberry. I thought the show was on the verge of something very special with Todd and Evangeline's relationship, and although I wasn't sure if I preferred the two as just friends or as something more, there was no mistaking the fact that St. John and Goldsberry had "red-hot" chemistry. With that said, I could barely tolerate watching the disintegration of Todd's character after that, and even though he had some strong scenes in the courtroom fighting for custody of Tommy, I just don't think this was his year. If he didn't get an Emmy nod for his PHENOMENAL performance during his execution storyline, I don't think he's going to see one this year either. My second pick replacing St. John would be Jerry verDorn, as the new and improved Clint Buchanan. Finally, verDorn has made me completely forget that Clint Ritchie was ever in this role. VerDorn has also had an outstanding year from dealing with Jessica's liver transplant to embarking on a new relationship with Dorian to handling the death of his beloved father. All of these instances allowed verDorn to give Clint facets of humanity and soul, and verDorn has been excellent every step of the way! But while I'm on the subject of actors, there is only one person who has the Supporting Actor category in a headlock, and that is Tuc Watkins. I mean, seriously, are you kidding me? Is there any other contender possible in this category? I think the Academy should just put everyone out of his misery and concede that this is a one-man race. NOBODY steals scenes faster than Watkins. He is the epitome of a supporting actor, and his recognition is very long overdue. Enough said. If anyone else comes remotely close, I would assert that Nathaniel Marston deserves recognition for his work. Despite any personal demons that he may be battling, Marston was sensational this year as Michael McBain. He and Kathy Brier complemented one another so nicely, and to watch Marston deal with Michael's pain in often subtle, more quiet ways than Brier was refreshing. Marston has the acting chops for the meaty story that was handed to him on a platter, and it's a shame that he won't have the opportunity to finish the storyline that was years in the making. But, I would love to see him get some positive recognition for his professional achievements. Personal issues have no place in professional recognitions like this, so I hope others take this into account when they vote.
DENISE: I would be thrilled to see Jerry verDorn's name on the Lead Actor ballot, but unfortunately, I don't think he has a strong enough reel. I truly hope I'm wrong, because he has been a wonderful addition to the cast and settled into Clint's character immediately upon joining OLTL. There will always be a spot in my heart for Clint Ritchie and what he brought to the role, but verDorn won my respect immediately, generated some fine work, and I love what he has done with Clint's character....so here's hoping the "soapgods" are in his corner. I'm with you all the way in terms of Nathaniel Marston and Tuc Watkins for Supporting Actor. An actor's personal life is just that, and I sincerely hope that Marston is judged on merit alone. All that should be evaluated is what he brought to the role when stepping in front of the camera, and quite frankly, Michael's character would've likely been a complete and total failure in anyone else's hands. We saw Michael evolve from a character that was never fully fleshed-out to one that morphed into a powerhouse of conviction and raw emotion. Viewers may gripe about the baby Tommy storyline and how long it's carried on, but nonetheless, many actors were granted an opportunity to shine in ways like never before because of this storyline - and Marston was one of those actors. What can you say about Tuc Watkins? This man deserves his own category and I could watch him all day long. That aside, I fear Tuc's comedic genius may ultimately prove to be his undoing. While most viewers are drawn to David's "con man with a heart" persona and Tuc's perfectly-timed quips, underneath all that, he is truly a phenomenal actor. I liken his versatility as an actor to that of Ilene Kristen. While both are comedic geniuses, they are also forces to be reckoned with when granted an opportunity to showcase their skills for heavy drama. We saw another side of David emerge when his blackmail scheme unraveled and he fought to regain Viki's trust and friendship, just as when his relationship with Dorian disintegrated, and Watkins' amazing versatility was captured in moments such as this. So I sincerely hope this is reflected during evaluation by his peers. Honestly, I'd also like to see Kamar de los Reyes' name in this category. Here is another fine, very talented actor who languished on the back-burner as Antonio was demoted to being Jessica's sidekick, yet as their marriage unraveled and the writing improved, de los Reyes finally had an opportunity to strut his stuff. He generated some incredible material when Antonio was forced to accept the reality of Jessica's infidelity and deal with the fallout of a crumbling marriage, and the work he put forth as a result was probably some of the best of his career. He is an actor who is often overlooked, which is truly a shame. Now onto the Supporting Actress category, which I believe will emerge to be the most controversial and colorful category yet. THIS is the category that everyone is watching...
RYAN: It seems that every year, this particular category becomes the most "buzzed" about of the lot--I mean, look at last year's race with Genie Francis in the mix. I almost feel as if the Supporting Actress category is THE category with the stiffest competition, and this year will be no different. I am lobbying HARD for the often overlooked and grossly talented Catherine Hickland. With one of the best soap comebacks of the year, Hickland's character was the sole impetus in kicking off Ron Carlivati's tenure as Head Writer, and Lindsay went essentially from a babysitter to Woman (or should I say Killer) of the Year! Hickland's day in court during which she admitted her guilt as Spencer's killer and then lost her sanity was a tour de force for this actress, and it is one of those rare soap moments (a la Karen Wolek's courtroom confession that she was a prostitute or Nora's botched closing argument during Marty's rape trial) that will be often referred to for the rest of time. Hickland's closest competition will be Kathy Brier as tortured mother-on-the-run Marcie McBain. See, this is where I have a problem. Brier has been a LEAD actress for pretty much 3/4 of 2007, and to include her in a supporting category makes her a shoo-in, for sure, but it takes away the brilliant performances of those actresses who were, by definition, "supporting" throughout the year, like Hickland (or even, to a lesser degree, BethAnn Bonner). But with that small rant aside, who can argue that Brier's tumultuous ride as Marcie in 2007 was not her finest work during her entire tenure at OLTL? Brier made us feel Marcie's pain and moral dilemma, despite how we personally feel about Tommy's legal placement. She is a wonderful actress who deserves the accolades and the attention for her real, honest, and heartfelt performances. And, if I may, I'd also like to mention that I hope Brittany Underwood and Brandon Buddy earn their first nominations in the Younger Actress and Actor categories. Underwood, especially, has turned a role that I mostly ignored in the past into one that I am invested in and excited to watch. As the new foster-Cramer daughter, Langston is going to be THE character to watch in 2008, you just watch! And the role couldn't be in better hands than Underwood's. As for Buddy, I give this actor due credit for turning lemons into lemonade, especially in his recent performances. As the writers turned Cole into a ho-hum character with little conflict in early 2007, Buddy was helpless; however, with the recent departure of Christina Chambers as Buddy's on-screen mother, he has had the opportunity to give performances that we have been waiting to see. He has made Cole vulnerable, and the intensity of losing his mother and realizing that he, like Langston, is an orphan has allowed Buddy to sink his pick into this acting goldmine. I look forward to the direction Cole is headed, and I think Buddy has found his groove in recent weeks. Whew! I hadn't realized how many talented actors and actresses there are on this show, Denise. It's HARD to whittle down my picks to just a few---I can't imagine how hard it must be for the actors on the show who have to pick only three in every category for the pre-nomination phase! YIKES.
DENISE: Carlivati's writing has reinvigorated so many characters and enabled these fine actors to put forth their very best...and the transformation we have witnessed with Marcie and Lindsay in recent months has been amazing. I am truly disheartened that Brier wouldn't be considered for Lead Actress, because as I said earlier, she has earned the right to represent OLTL in that category. Bree Williamson generated fabulous material in '06 with the Jess/Tess storyline and received a pre-nom for Lead Actress, so I fail to understand why Brier - who held the "Prom Night: The Musical" fiasco together and who has been a powerhouse throughout the baby Tommy storyline - wouldn't represent the show as a Lead Actress contender. This is truly going to be one tough category, because Catherine Hickland has been positively unstoppable since Carlivati plucked Lindsay off the back-burner, dusted her off, and inserted her smack into the thick of things. I still get chills when I recall Hickland's performances at the WOTY banquet and when Lindsay broke down in court, as they were gut-wrenching and haunting. So these two women are definitely going to top the Supporting Actress ballot - no doubt about it. However, if I had an opportunity to throw another name into the mix, it would be that of Christina Chambers. While I contend Chambers was miscast from day one and was plagued by contrived and weak writing, I maintain that is she is a very strong actor, and placed everything she had into that role. Sadly, it just wasn't enough, but I think Chambers had an opportunity to reflect great versatility and diversity through her performances throughout the year, and for that, she deserves recognition. Honestly, I also have mixed feelings about seeing Hickland in the Supporting Actress category, because I never imagined years ago that someone of her experience would ever be "supporting" in the true sense of the word. It's the same reason Genie Francis' win was bittersweet for me, because while I was thrilled that she was finally recognized by her peers, I never thought the day would come when someone of her caliber would ever stray from Lead Actress status. That's another issue altogether, and another debate for a different day, but my, how things have changed. Ryan, this Emmy race is going to prove very interesting and will be laden with nail-biting, head-scratching moments, and it certainly seems like 2008 is coming in with a "bang!"
Have a wonderful week!
Ryan and Denise