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Where the fans are positively bubbly

Soap celebs delight the faithful as the Daytime Emmys move to L.A. for the first time.

April 26, 2006|Lynn Smith | Times Staff Writer

For the Daytime Emmys, it's all about the fans. And the ratings. And this year, if things go well, maybe, finally, a little respect. Aiming for all three, the awards ceremony -- to be held Friday -- is going Hollywood, leaving New York for the first time in its 33-year history.

And Kristyl Adams, a blond grandmother from Temecula, couldn't be happier. A soap opera fan for 36 years, Adams has been gearing up for this week ever since the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced last October that the awards for soap operas and daytime talk, game and children's shows were heading this way.

Besides attending the awards at the Kodak Theatre, Adams will attend receptions before and after. Over the weekend, she'll go to two parties hosted by the soap stars themselves. All together, she has shelled out $1,500 to hang out with her favorite daytime actors, get autographs and photos, win prizes and attend rounds of dinners and parties. She even organized travel and party packages on the Web for her fellow daytime fans.

"We are so happy to be able to have so much going on here this year for a change. All the fan events are usually held in New York," she said.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday April 29, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Daytime Emmys: In an article in Wednesday's Calendar about the Daytime Emmys moving to Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, the last name of White Cherry Entertainment producer Glenn Weiss was incorrectly given as White.

Who's actually vying for the awards is almost beside the point.

Indeed, in daytime television, "It's not so much about who's nominated," said Peter Price, president of the national academy, a 13,000-member organization that hosts other specialized Emmy Awards shows, such as for public service, science and technology, sports and others. (The larger Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences hosts the prime-time Emmys.) "There's a certain lore to daytime, a mystique, which is something more than a hot contest between individuals," Price said.

That's not to say the fans don't root passionately for their favorites, just that it's less about craft than character. The flavor is reminiscent of "the whole Susan Lucci affair," he said, referring to the edge-of-the-seat anticipation of whether Lucci, the most Emmy-nominated actress of all time, would ever win for her work on "All My Children." (Lucci finally won in 1999 after 18 nominations.) "It's kind of an emotional matter rather than is one actor better than another," he said. " 'The View' always makes a big deal of not winning, even on air. In spite of all their anxieties about winning, they do quite well," Price said.

It's that kind of buzz and the attendant ratings for the show -- and daytime television in general -- that the academy and this year's broadcaster, ABC, wanted to stir up by moving the ceremony. Ratings for both have been drooping in recent years. According to Nielsen Media Research, so far this year ratings for daytime dramas have dropped 8% among women ages 25 to 34, a key demographic, and as much as 12% for certain shows, such as "Days of Our Lives."

The median age of viewers has also increased, in some cases as much as three years, leading to the speculation that older viewers are not being replaced by younger ones. The median age for "The Young and the Restless," for example, is now 57.

"ABC has a tremendous investment in daytime," said Brian Frons, president of ABC Daytime, which airs "All My Children," "General Hospital" and "One Life to Live." "We are certainly spending a lot more money than before to advertise these Emmys on radio and print and on our own air." He said he hopes to keep the show in Los Angeles (ABC and CBS alternate years broadcasting) and reverse the daytime ratings trend.

Included in the buzz-generating plan was a national mall tour by the actors and other daytime personalities that drew as many as 5,000 fans in Philadelphia.

On a recent Saturday, Adams arrived early for the festivities and freebies at the JC Penney courtyard of the Northridge Fashion Center. She stood in line with a few hundred women -- and a smattering of men -- cameras ready, and waited for a few seconds' chat with Soapnet's talk show host Lisa Rinna, and "General Hospital's" young heartthrobs Tyler Christopher (Nikolas Cassadine) and Scott Clifton (Dillon Quartermaine), who, ensconced at a card table, gamely posed for photos and answered questions.

A freshly autographed Daytime Emmys poster stuffed into her bag, Adams also left with a framed photo of herself posing with a Daytime Emmy trophy, and a $150 gift certificate from Sears.

Clifton said this crowd was more mellow than those he faced in the Midwest malls. He said in the past he has run into fans who wanted to argue or chastise him for his character's actions on the show. "I say, 'You know it's fake, right?' " He recently learned a fan had set up a MySpace.com account for Dillon Quartermaine.

On the other hand, he admitted that having to put up with women saying "I love you" at every turn isn't the worst job in the world.

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