In the next 48 hours, NATAS and the Daytime Emmys will begin releasing behind-the-scenes videos that were filmed during last week’s Daytime Emmy Awards. These interviews were done by “General Hospital” Daytime Emmy® Award-winner Carolyn Hennesy, who did an amazing job during the Daytime Emmys® on the red carpet and behind-the-scenes, getting exclusive interviews with the winners as they left the stage. Highlight Hollywood spoke exclusively with Senior VP of NATAS and the executive producer of the Daytime Emmys® show David Michaels on Monday, after the successful weekend of events which aired online on Friday, April 28TH and on Sunday, April 30TH. David partnered with equally as talented Mr. Michael Levitt, who did an incredible job co-executive producing both the Creative Arts and the Daytime Emmy® ceremonies.
“We all worked very hard to make this happen, but without Michael Levitt, none of it would have been possible,” Michaels said.This year fans were able to engage Emmy nominees through a Facebook Live event, and David Michaels was just amazed by the professionalism that this team of Facebook employees show to everyone involved. “Facebook is a wonderful place to work, as you know Tommy. We had a small team in the L.A. offices who handled everything with precision. Our social media team of Harlan (Ball) and Lisa (England) could not have handled things better. So, I’m taking questions to pass on to the actors and the fans could not have asked better questions, been more gracious or intelligent. No questions were out of bounds, rude or inappropriate. Daytime Television has the best fans of any other genre in this business.”Michaels and Levitt worked tirelessly to make sure both evenings went off without a hitch. The duo has so much respect for the behind-the-scenes talent as they do the actors themselves. “The makeup and hair experts and artists, the camera crew, everyone from casting to production, these people are the unsung heroes and we wanted to make sure that their evening was as important and given the same level of professionalism and care as the main show on Sunday night,” David said. “We were thrilled by the results of the two evenings, and we are happy with everyone who participated.”The hosts were incredible together, and Michaels explained how that came together. “We chose Sheryl Underwood obviously because not only is she funny and a great hostess, but she’s the ultimate soap fan and Mario Lopez is just capable of hosting anything, so we were grateful that these two agreed to emcee this year. We didn’t have a lot of rehearsal time, but over the weekend, the two of them came in and worked together. Mario upfront told Sheryl, I’ll have to be the straight guy and you will have the humor. They hit every high mark and we love the interaction they both shared with the fans in the balcony. The interaction you got to see online was organic, and the fact that Sheryl is such a fan of soaps like the fans who attended was obvious, not rehearsed.”
Referring to the hosts as polar opposites, David Michaels felt they both knew what they could bring. “Sheryl is all smiles, she is flirting with Mario and she loves being herself. He just handles everything with his natural charisma and professionalism.”When asked about the amazing and entertaining skit that CBS’s “Lucky Dog” host Brandon McMillan performed, David laughed while explaining how he really admires Brandon and is a huge fan. We discussed having watched his shows and crying when he has to separate from the dogs. “But, as Brandon explained to me, he is trying to place the dogs he has on the show. So, it’s natural and expected that the dogs will be leaving him. I just don’t know how he does it.”Michael Levitt is also a huge advocate for animals and David said that he was instrumental in this part of the show, as he was in every aspect of it. “This is Michael’s passion, so we definitely wanted Brandon to be a part of it and we also love how diverse our industry is. Unlike other parts of the entertainment industry, the Daytime Emmys encompasses so many different people, so many vast and diverse backgrounds. We are blessed that in the Daytime community, we don’t have to look very hard for it.
David Michaels also spoke of the venue, and how it was the perfect event space. “The Pasadena Convention Center was our choice this year and we are glad that we did it. Michael (Levitt) and I both remarked on the arena being a far better choice than a hotel ballroom with sound issues and the logistics of it all. It was a pretty spectacular venue.”Michaels raved about both David Parks and Michael Levitt, who both served as co-executive producers. “It’s a team effort, those gentlemen did so much to make this happen, whatever anyone has to say about the event, it could not have been pulled off by one person. It’s definitely a team effort.”
Asked to grade the hosts, “I’d have to give them both an AAA plus, plus, plus” Michaels said. And Carolyn Hennesy also won raves from the producers. “We were all in awe of her and what she accomplished. You just wait until you see the behind-the-scenes clips. Carolyn was a natural and everyone raved about her performance. The fact that she got an Emmy herself on Friday night was just perfect.”
Everyone in our office raved on Monday about Sunday night’s opening. There was an opening musical number, where “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical “Rent,” which was performed by a group of soap stars, including Karla Mosley (The Bold and the Beautiful”), Jacob Young (The Bold and the Beautiful,” Eric Marstolf (Days of Our Lives), also, Reign Edwards (The Bold and the Beautiful), Tristan Lake LeBeau (The Young and the Restless), Nadia Bjorlin (Days of Our Lives) and Robert Palmer Watkins (General Hospital).
“That opening idea was one David (Parks), Michael (Levitt) and I decided on,” said Michaels. “These incredible performers didn’t have a lot of time to rehearse and didn’t need it. They are all consummate professionals.”
I told David how eclectic the show was, even down to seeing legends like Gladys Knight. “Yes, I worked with her when I was a producer on ‘20,000 Pyramid’ I told her that I loved it when she whipped Smoky Robinson in an episode.”
Susan Lucci’s elegant remembrance of the legendary Agnes Nixon (All My Children and One Life to Live) had everyone in tears. “Susan Lucci remains absolutely beautiful, Tommy. This is why so many people love her. She’s not just gorgeous but she’s a wonderful person as well.”
There was a very special musical performance by “The Young and the Restless” actor Max Ehrich (“Fen”) that was so authentic, it brought tears to the eyes of everyone in the room. “Max did such a wonderful job, Tommy. He just performed the song very simply and the very elegantly. He was not daunted one bit by performing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”” for the “In Memoriam” Tribute.” All three executive producers heaped high-praise on Max and for good reason. He is not only an exceptional actor, but a talented musician and singer as well.
Daytime Television works harder than any other genre. “Yes they do, and I was happy to see so many people finally acknowledging this,” Michaels added. “Everyone involved with the ceremonies this year wanted to give it there all, just as they do every day on their shows. I was happy that the shows sent some of their actors to the Creative Arts Emmy® show, since these people give so much and this is their one day to receive recognition for their hard work.”
At Sunday’s Daytime Emmys, former “Entertainment Tonight” host Mary Hart was honored for her work and dedication to daytime television with the lifetime achievement award.
The award, which was given to “Sesame Street’s” Sonia Manzano last year, was presented to Hart by her friend Tim Allen.
“I am so overwhelmed and my heart is beating very hard,” Hart said upon accepting her statuette.
Meanwhile, longtime “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune: producer Harry Friedman received the same honor Friday at the 44TH Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony.
Before the Emmys®, fans had the opportunity to converse with several of “General Hospital” nominees and David and “GH” leading lady Laura Wright do an annual on air event with Michael Fairman on Soaps, so he raved about her. “We are very close, she is always so much fun to work with, and this year we had Nancy Lee Grahn join us, and you know that Nancy’s a social media giant in her own right, so she was incredible with the Facebook Live, not to mention Chad Duell, who is very laid back and yet so witty and hilarious.” They were joined by Chloe Lanier and Jeffrey Vincent Parise.
But as Michael Levitt has pointed out previously, the Daytime Emmys® are not just the soap opera awards. There are so many categories, including morning talk shows, game shows and the genius Saturday morning lineup of educational programs, not to mention iconic game shows from “The Price Is Right” to “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!”
When asked whether the show will air in the future on television, David Michaels confirmed that is the plan. “Yes, in the perfect world we’d still want to have the involvement with fans online as we did this year. In fact a network wanted the show, but it just wasn’t feasible this year. That being said, it is our plan to have the Daytime Emmys and the actors, shows and everyone involved with Daytime deserve that stature of being on television as others in the industry receive. So, it is our goal.”