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USA Today: Emmys Show Daytime TV Faces Changes

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Emmys show daytime TV faces changes

By William Keck, USA TODAY

HOLLYWOOD — Daytime television is facing a major transitional period.

Bob Barker's last Price is Right aired Friday. Ratings for all soap operas are in the cellar. And the NBC soap Passions will shut down production as an NBC network soap on Aug. 3 before it becomes perhaps the first among many soaps to segue to satellite.

Passions' Lindsay Korman said she has agreed to reprise her role as Theresa once the show debuts on DirecTV in the fall, but co-star Galen Gering, who plays her brother Luis remains undecided. "It's sort of an avalanche right now," he admitted. "We're sort of rolling with it to see what happens."

The uncertainty didn't stop him from singing the praises of DirecTV, which drove the Passions cast to the Kodak Theatre in their DirecTV Hummer.

NBC's last remaining soap, Days of Our Lives, may be next to jump to cable or satellite as it faces an uncertain future. That has some of the cast worrying. Asked if he would stick around should Days move to cable, the soap's Brian Datillo (Lucas) said, "There are two sides to that. Yeah, it would be nice to have a job, but let's try to keep it where it's at. I like the respectability of it being network. DirecTV I don't think would be a step down, just a change of pace with a new audience."

With Barker gone, after winning his 18th and 19th Emmys (for best game show and best game show host), Jeopardy's Alex Trebek, along with Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak, are the two longest running game show hosts still on the air. Trebek, who has appeared on Jeopardy for 23 years, missed Barker's final performance because "I was doing some electrical work in an attic today." He didn't even record it because he admitted, "I don't watch much daytime television."

Asked when he'd like to retire from Jeopardy, Trebek cracked, "tomorrow." He said seriously, that "when I step down from Jeopardy, that will be it for me." Meaning no other projects. He envisions that day being nothing more than a "thank you, here's the gold watch, goodbye!"

Dr. Phil McGraw saluted Barker by revealing that he and his wife, Robin, made a pilgrimage to The Price is Right as part of their honeymoon. He proved he wasn't kidding by showing the original name stickers they wore that day in the summer of 1976.

Bold and the Beautiful actress Jennifer Gareis admitted that she snuck a peak inside B&B's neighboring Price is Right studio when George Hamilton came in to audition as Barker's replacement. "I gave him his privacy, but I think he'd be wonderful," she said. "He's charismatic and good looking, kind of similar to Bob Barker."

The Daytime Emmys honored Lee Phillip Bell with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The former Chicago talk show host is co-creator of The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful with her late husband, William Bell. Their daughter, Lauralee, who has appeared on both soaps, is now a mother herself. Instead of dolls, Lauralee said the Bell grandchildren play with her family's Emmy statues.

During soap operas' heyday in the 1980s it would have seemed unthinkable that one half of General Hospital super couple Luke and Laura would be unwelcome at the show, but that's what Genie Francis (Laura) is facing.

Thirty-one years after her debut, Francis finally collected a daytime Emmy for best supporting actress. But ever since she made a brief return for the super couple's 25th wedding anniversary last October, the Laura character has been kept alive as a faceless blonde wig.

"They'd have to ask me back," said Francis, wearing a raspberry colored gown, when asked about a more permanent return. "My kids are very happy in Maine, and they don't want to move." For that reason, Francis wants desperately to come back to the show, but only for "short visits. That would work for me."

But Jill Farren-Phelps, GH's executive producer, is not sure she is willing to work with Francis' terms and continues to speak in circles about Francis' return. "The door is always open … we never say never," said Phelps. "We'd love to have her back. It's just that our business is very different than it used to be. It's not quite as simple. If ever there were someone we'd bring back, it would be Genie."

Phelps does agree that the off-screen presence of the Laura character without Francis in the role is getting tired. And Anthony Geary (Luke) has flat had enough. "In my opinion, (her return) is way overdue," said Geary, while checking out the freebies at the On 3 Productions gifting lounge during a Thursday rehearsal at the Kodak Theatre. He had just seen Francis for the first time since she'd left the show again late last year. He made it clear he wants his leading lady back.

As does Geary's soap sister, Jacklyn Zeman, who has been on the show for 30 years. "But actors don't get a vote," she said.

On the red carpet Friday, Morgan Fairchild was greeted by Young and the Restless actor Christian LeBlanc, who went on to win the best actor Emmy. "You were so nice to me when I was on an audition once," he told her. "This woman was the sweetest kindest woman."

"Well," responded Fairchild 57, "I remember all the people who were kind to me when I first hit town." Like who? "Scatman Crothers," she said. "He invited me to sit down with him at a studio commissary."

On the carpet, Jerry Springer was cracking jokes left and right Asked if any of the guests he's had on his volatile talk show throughout the years might be worthy of appearing on his primetime competition show, America's Got Talent, he immediately said, "no."

Former Days of Our Lives actress Lisa Rinna is prepping for her first gig as Joan River's red carpet replacement for the TV Guide Channel. Her first gig will be at September's Primetime Emmy Awards. "I'm not trying to fill anybody's shoes; Joan Rivers is the queen," said Rinna, who is looking to cast a hunky co-host who will not be husband Harry Hamlin. "We have a list."

The belle of the carpet was Tyra Banks, wearing a humongous copper colored gown made just for her by Roberto Cavalli. Plugging her talk show's move to New York City as a live show this fall, Banks compared her gown to "the Statue of Liberty before she tarnished to green!"

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Jill Farren-Phelps would be well-served to understand the logic behind having one mouth and two ears. In other words, that ol bag needs to shut up longer and listen more.

She's foolish. The show is just slipping away and she continues to talk as if she knows what she is doing.

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