Daytime Emmy Nominations Burning Questions, Plus Nominee Reactions

Alison Sweeney
Tom Rafalovich
Alison Sweeney

“You get a nod! You get a nod!” Was Oprah Winfrey in charge of the 42nd annual Daytime Emmy nominations? [For a full list of the nominees, click here.] Though only four soaps remain on the air these days—ABC’s General Hospital, NBC’s Days of Our Lives, and CBS’s The Bold and the Beautiful, and The Young and the Restless—all four were nominated for Outstanding Daytime Drama, as well as for Outstanding Writing, and Outstanding Directing. Perhaps it’s time for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to overhaul the voting process? With neither Y&R or Days having a banner 2014, such results are very strange indeed.

Paul Drinkwater/NBC/GettyImages

And will we ever get our categories straight? What is Days’ Peggy McCay (Caroline) doing in the Outstanding Lead Actress category when the veteran star, though a deserving nominee, is clearly a supporting player? Why is GH leading lady Finola Hughes (Anna) in the supporting category? Ditto B&B‘s Scott Clifton (Liam), who also won a supporting nod, even though he was front burner in daytime’s biggest romantic triangle?

“We can certainly open up the discussion about the lead-versus-supporting question, but it’s a very subjective thing and, besides, how would we police that?” says David Michaels, NATAS Daytime senior vice president. “For the most part, it’s the actors who make the decision as to where they want to be submitted, though sometimes the producers have a say, as well. Peggy McCay wanted to be considered as a lead actress and she is wonderful.” So wonderful she could win—Caroline’s tearjerker speech at Will and Sonny’s wedding was killer—but it would be taking a trophy from a true leading lady.

The newly reinstalled Outstanding Special Guest Performer category—absent for years—is also a puzzler, with pretty much every “name” who visited a soap in 2014 getting a nod. Among them: GH‘s Donna Mills, B&B’s Fred Willard, and Y&R‘s Meredith Baxter and Sally Kellerman. Meanwhile, 2014’s finest guest performer—that would be Y&R returnee Shemar Moore (Malcolm)—didn’t qualify because NATAS only allowed actors whose characters debuted in 2014. (There is no such rule with the primetime Emmy guest categories). What’s up with that?

“We had a meeting with the soap producers and casting directors and everyone felt strongly that the guest category should be kept crisp and clean with only actors first seen in 2014,” says Michael. “Had Shemar wanted to, he could have submitted himself in the supporting actor category. I don’t think we really lost that many [nomination-worthy] performances with this rule.”

Who else got snubbed? For my money, Y&R‘s Eric Braeden (Victor) and Doug Davidson (Paul) deserved Lead Actor spots, as did Days‘ Blake Berris (Nick) for Supporting Actor. We had also hoped to see GH‘s Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis) and Michelle Stafford (Nina) get a nod (both submitted themselves—go figure—in Supporting Actress). But, alas, no soap.

Hey, enough with the griping. Let’s celebrate! Alison Sweeney (picture above) had to quit her role as Days‘ fire starter Sami Brady, after 22 years, in order to get her first nomination and—no spoiler alert needed—she is over the moon.

“It doesn’t even seem real,” says Sweeney. “Just to have my name listed with [GH‘s] Laura Wright and Maura West, [Y&R‘s] Gina Tognoni and my dear Peggy McCay—women who deserve this award and are so respected in the business—is so amazing to me. I’m flipping out!” Sweeney submitted the episode in which E.J. has a waking nightmare where Sami finds out about his infidelity. “It runs pretty long as acting reels go and I was really nervous that I would annoy people,” says Sweeney. “But, at the same time, I wanted to submit the work that made me the most proud—and I will be proud of that episode for the rest of my life.”

Lisa LoCicero
Rick Rowell/ABC

Another Emmy first-timer is GH‘s Lisa LoCicero (right), who scored a spot in the supporting category for the episode in which lovelorn Olivia starts drunk-dialing after she watches one of those hopelessly sad, adopt-a-pound-dog commercials on TV—a performance as touching as it is hilarious.

“The day I was supposed to shoot those scenes I walked out of the house and said to my husband, ‘I am afraid to go to work today,'” recalls LoCicero, “and I have never felt that way in my entire career. It’s hard to do tearful comedy. But, at the same time, I knew the audience would relate. There’s not a person alive who doesn’t react the same way to those damn dog commercials—you want to call up and buy them all.”

LoCicero is nominated alongside co-star Finola Hughes who is, she says, “one of my favorite actresses since I started caring about actresses. To be mentioned in the same breath with Finola is a distinct honor. To me, she never, ever hits a false note. Never.”

By the way, LoCicero will be entering her ninth month of pregnancy sometime around Emmy night, but she wouldn’t miss it for the world. “I’m going to be pretty large by then,” she says, “so I’m planning to buy two dresses—and sew them together!”

It’s also good to see Y&R‘s Kristoff St. John (Neil) back in the race. Not nominated since 2008, when he took home a supporting trophy, St. John says, “It’s a beautiful day! The sun is shining and my peers chose me to go to the mighty dance! We actors are quite a self-congratulatory crowd but it’s a great honor, nonetheless.”

St. John chose to submit one of the Shemar Moore episodes. “Neil is in a very dark place at a very dark hour trying to cope with his blindness and the passage of time,” St. John says. “He knows he’s not getting any younger and he’s a mess. There’s a lot of history there, especially with Malcolm’s return and the troubled relationship between the two brothers, so I’m really pleased that this particular material got noticed.” Actually, he’s a lot more than pleased. Says St. John: ” I feel like a kid who just bought and opened a Willy Wonka chocolate bar and found the golden ticket!”

The 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards air Sunday, April 26 at 8pm/ET (5pmPT) on Pop.