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Fans Get Star Treatment

At the first Daytime Emmy Awards show in Hollywood, the winners and other celebrities show their affection for their shows' viewers.

April 29, 2006|Lynn Smith | Times Staff Writer

After more than three decades, the world of sex, lies, switched babies, murder and train wrecks came to Hollywood in a big way as the 33rd annual Daytime Emmy Awards were presented Friday night at the Kodak Theatre.

It could have been mistaken for a meet and greet. Fans were everywhere, filling the theater's balconies and the "fan zone," and though that particular spot was outside, it was often the best seat in the house.

After her second consecutive win as outstanding talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres begged off questions from reporters backstage to hustle out there and introduce a team of "young hunks" from the soap operas, who distributed kisses to the appreciative fans. In fact, after brief stops backstage, all the winners paid a visit to the zone.

Actors and fans alike seemed to delight in the change of scenery from the show's traditional New York venue. Bobbie Eakes, nominated for best actress for playing the rich former trailer trash Krystal on "All My Children," came west with her husband, playwright/actor David Steen, for the ceremony. "We love it out here," Steen said. "It makes it so much more glamorous."

To some out-of-town fans, though, the turf change posed some problems. "We're like fish out of water. We know the system in New York, where the actors hide out," said Jeania Davis, 42, of Chicago. "Now we have to learn where their hangouts are here."

Davis and fellow fans Margaret Mowry, 52, of Orlando, Fla., and Judy Chan, 46, of Elk Grove, Calif., stood behind a velvet rope near the fan zone -- a circular stage with fan seating surrounding it -- where longtime "General Hospital" heartthrob Rick Springfield sang and played host to fans early in the evening. The women are members of a fan club for Mfundo Morrison, who plays sexy lawyer Justus Ward on "General Hospital," and all wore red T-shirts ("It's his favorite color") reading "Justus League."

Not as uniformly sleek as, say, the Academy Awards, the Daytime Emmys saw a range of actors, from children to seniors, from skeletal to chubby. Some actresses wore ill-fitting dresses, while one escort trod the red carpet in windbreaker and sneakers.

Screams could be heard from the bleachers where a producer from Soapnet was revving up the crowd, encouraging cheering with a wave of a rolled-up program as stars paraded down a huge red carpet lined with paparazzi and fans.

Debbie Sorrows, 48, of Highland cried out, "Walt! Ottawa High School!" as Walt Willey, who plays the straight-shooting lawyer Jackson Montgomery on "All My Children," passed by.

"I'm going there tomorrow to see my mother!" he yelled back.

As the evening's awards presentation got underway, DeGeneres' name was among the first to be called out. The comedian and talk show host, whose sitcom "Ellen" was canceled in 1998, a year after she came out as a lesbian, has been discreet about her private life throughout her successful comeback. Friday, however, she ended her acceptance speech with a surprising and dramatic declaration of her relationship with actress Portia de Rossi. "Thank you very much, and, Portia, I love you." Later, DeGeneres picked up her third consecutive award for best talk show.

Barbara Walters brought Rosie O'Donnell onstage and made her an offer she couldn't refuse. In a loose black suit and striped shirt, O'Donnell thanked the newswoman for offering her the seat vacated on "The View" by Meredith Vieira. "I'd be honored to do it," she said.

Winning game show host Alex Trebek thanked himself in his speech for having chosen television as his career, a medium, he said, that has become "the most powerful in the world" and one that makes a difference.

"General Hospital" took two top awards: outstanding drama series for the ninth time, and Anthony Geary picked up his fifth award as best actor for his role as Luke Spencer.

Kim Zimmer won the best actress statue for her role as Reva Shayne on "Guiding Light."

Jennifer Landon, who won for outstanding younger actress, made a reference to her father, Michael Landon, saying, "And to my poppa, thank you."

Winners were chosen by a panel of peers in each of 57 categories who judged clips submitted by nominees, which accounted for sometimes surprising results.

Other Daytime Emmy awards were handed out by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences last week in ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles. America Online won the first Emmy for content delivered via the Internet, cellphones, iPods, PDAs and other hand-held devices for its webcast of last summer's Live 8 concert.

"Sesame Street" took the award for outstanding preschool children's series, bringing its record winning streak to 110 Daytime Emmys.

Including awards given out April 22, CBS took home the most Emmys, 15, followed by PBS, with 14, and syndicated shows, 13. Among major networks, ABC had seven and NBC two.

Tom O'Neil, columnist for, contributed to this report.

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