The woman who has spiced All My Children for more than 40 years surveyed the audience at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater and announced, “Daytime TV is alive and well! Just look at all the talent in this building!”
There was a roar for Susan Lucci, forever wed to the idea that millions of fans will watch TV during the daylight hours long after her own show ends in September, the show falling victim to business decisions that trump what appears to be still-robust fan support.
Hundreds of daytime TV fans turned out for the red carpet arrivals for the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards telecast from the Hilton on Sunday, an event that spanned most of the day. Many fans began assembling on the carpet leading into the theater at 9 a.m.
When asked of the waning popularity of daytime dramas, Peggy McCay, who portrays Caroline Brady on Days of Our Lives, simply swept her arm toward the throng behind the temporary barriers as if to say, “Waning?”
No matter. The show honored those who are either leaving daytime network TV or have been at it for decades. Oprah Winfrey received the first Crystal Pillar Award for the unmatched influence of her daytime talk show. So powerful is Winfrey that we sometimes must remind ourselves that, yes, there was a time in U.S. culture that predated Oprah, a bustling society where people interacted in a fulfilling manner and chose which books to read without the guidance of the talk show queen’s book club.
One of the show’s dulled moments, and there were quite a few, was when it was announced after an impressive array of stars ranging from Barbra Walters to Ellen DeGeneres to a singing Celine Dion paid video tribute to Oprah that the recipient herself would not be there in person to accept the honor. When Oprah appeared on video from her set in Chicago, a solemn “aaaaaw” went up in the theater.
The crowd should have been tipped off that Oprah might not walk onstage when those lauding her career did so via recorded remote, too. Gladys Knight did perform, singing “That’s What Friends Are For,” but the performance played thinly in the theater, at least in part for its lacking audio system. It did come off better on the tape-delayed TV broadcast.
Those who did show up, in person, included Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak, the twin towers of syndicated game shows. Both were presented Lifetime Achievement Awards for their navigation of two of the great game shows in TV history. Or, in Sajak’s case, H_ST_RY. Sajak allowed that Trebek is the true master of the craft, joking that his career was mostly “Wheel of Fortune and a paper route.”
Trebek, he’s hosted a dozen game shows. Aside from Jeopardy, a personal favorite was High Rollers, which taught many children staying home from school because of illness just what a craps table looked like. Trebek, who turns 71 next month and has been hosting shows of some sort for 50 years, rightfully thanked those who have performed his hair and makeup work over the years.
“Without them,” he said, “I would look like Moammar Gadhafi.”
More hits from a busy night at the Hilton:
Vanna takes a SP_LL: During the VIP after-party at the Hilton’s Sky Villas, Wheel of Fortune pillar Vanna White tumbled off a step near the outdoor pool. She left right after for treatment for what has been reported to be a bruised arm.
Marie Osmond has bold, and, yes, beautiful, plans: During her trip along the carpet, Osmond was happy to report that she will be joining the cast of the CBS soap The Bold and the Beautiful. At her side was cast member Adam Gregory, who is the son-in-law of her personal assistants, Greg and Darla Sperry. Osmond’s stint on the show begins in the fall.
This is the kind of career move that could really make Marie Osmond a household name.
“He’s like my son, even though I am seven years older than him,” Osmond said, referring to the 23-year-old Gregory. As for what type of character she’ll portray, she said, “I need some tips. Some bad, evil tips.”
Osmond and Gregory both said the idea to add Marie to the show was his idea.
“Who wouldn’t want Marie Osmond on their show?” he asked, then joked, “So I said, ‘I’m going to do you a favor, Marie!'” She turned to Gregory and said, “I can be bold. You can be beautiful.”
Telly Savalas, as it turns out, was not a great blackjack player: This comes from the esteemed John Aniston, who has played the bedeviled Victor Kiriakis on Days of Our Lives since 1985. He recalled a long-ago visit to Vegas with Savalas, who always said he received VIP treatment in the city.
“I came here with Telly, probably somewhere around 1963 or ’64, somewhere around there. Oh, he was very big. Very big, in Vegas,” Aniston, the father of Jennifer, recalled. “A guy named Charlie Rich used to own the Dunes, or he was one of the owners (Rich was among a group of investors, with Sid Wyman, Wendell Fletcher and George Duckworth, who ran the hotel in those days). We were playing blackjack there, and Charlie ushered us back into his office and says, ‘You know, Telly, we like for celebrities to come here. We like for them to gamble, and we like for them to win, because then they think they can win. But the way you play, you’ll never win as long as you live.
“That’s where I got my instruction on how to play blackjack. … I still play, oh yeah.”
Pat Sajak steers clear of the Wheel of Fortune slot machine: “I never have actually played it,” Sajak said of the popular slot machine that incessantly cries, “Wheel! Of! Fortune!” and plays the show’s theme song. “I’ve posed for some pictures with it, but never played them. But it is a weird thing to walk through a casino and hear your theme song, and to see the machine. It’s like, am I hallucinating?”
When it was suggested one reason he didn’t play was because he would have a tough time explaining a jackpot win, Sajak said, “I could see that happening, people coming over, yelling, “Fix! Fix!”
The finer moments of Wayne Brady: Early in the show, Brady danced an opening number -- in full costume -- with Monte Carlo headliners Jabbawockeez, then said he might end up in traction after the high-energy performance. When Dr. Oz's show won an early Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show/Informative, a couple dozen members of the Dr. Oz team lumbered onstage. “Congratulations to the flash mob that is the Dr. Oz show!” Brady said after they were herded off-stage. And, after not winning the Best Game Show Host award, which went to Cash Cab’s Ben Bailey, Brady said, “Next year, I’m hosting Let’s Make a Deal from the back of a Cadillac.”
Acceptance speech of the night: To Bailey, who was several seconds late in accepting his Emmy. He first joked that he was waiting for a cab, then offered, “To be honest, I was urinating backstage.”
As they say in the cab industry, that’s a fare claim. And with that, we will close.