That’s A Wrap! The 45TH Annual Daytime Emmy Awards’ Producers David Michaels, David Parks Discuss This Year’s Events

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The 45TH Annual Daytime Emmy Awards are behind us in Hollywood.  But, my gracious the memories will last a lifetime.  Partners in crime I would say only if making a joke, the truth is, partners in perfection is more like it this year for producers David Michaels and David Parks, who each year give Highlight Hollywood the scoop on what it takes to make these events such a success.  The humble young men really outdid themselves in 2018.  Even the Washington Post raved about the utter perfection they achieved.  Although they are their own toughest critics, everyone who attended the parties, the awards for both Creative and the big night on Sunday had only wonderful things to say.  I expressed to the duo when we spoke by phone last week that the show finally feels like it did in the old days, something David Michaels and I are old enough to remember being a part of and something David Parks watched on DVDs to prepare for this year’s extravaganza.68th Emmy Awards Press Preview Day - Red Carpet Rollout

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David Michaels and David Parks welcome the Daytime patrons before the broadcast begins

For the past decades, the Daytime Emmys have been given a backseat to other awards shows, but that is all history at this point.  Michaels has a distinguished and longstanding career in Daytime Television and David Parks has the genius perception of how to make it modern and still manages to defer to Michaels and others who remember the heyday of the show.  In the 1980s and early 90s, it was fascinating to watch  William J. (Bill) Bell smiling while taking in everything on stage with a perception that made his own creation “The Young and the Restless” Daytime TV’s number one series for over three decades now.  That same glint in his eyes is now observed by anyone watching David Michaels behind-the-scenes making sure that everyone is given the right instructions and their own vision to feel comfortable yet still manage to maintain the effect he has in mind.

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David Michaels on stage

It’s hard to believe, but David Parks tells me, ‘Yes, there are times we disagree, come on, Tommy. You can’t work on such an incredible event and not be tired of each other from time to time, but we enjoy working as a team. David has the history and he allows me to offer a modern way of doing things.”

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Original Daytime Emmy Host, Peter Marshall with current Daytime Emmy Hosts Sheryl Underwood and Mario Lopez

David Michaels is a legend in the industry, but he treats everyone as if they are just as talented as he is.  This year’s show behind-the-scenes had crew members that I have seen at the Academy Awards.  A team that worked incredibly hard to make sure the Daytime Emmys (streaming) would go off without a hitch as is expected for Primetime Emmys, Golden Globes and the Oscars. My goodness, I have never seen such a crew that is so in sync.  Parks added, “Everyone who worked on the crew this year just seemed to be at their best.  They not only took great direction, but they also knew when it was best to chime in and discuss something that we may have missed, but needed to happen.”

“It was a total collaborative effort, Tommy,” said David Michaels. “Dave [Parks] is the nuts and bolts guy, but he has a lot of great ideas, things I may have missed or not thought of.  Our collaboration and creativity never clash, I’ll say that aloud. We may disagree, but we find a way to make it work.”This is not hard for two powerbrokers in the industry. Both men have found their niche and are confident enough to listen to others.  Even the talent in front of the camera get a chance to adlib.  I work with films, television in both genres and even reality TV, and that level of comfort and confidence comes with true talent.  These guys are modest, but I brag for a living, so let me brag a little on them and their crew. I have never seen such a well-oiled machine in progress in my life. This year’s ratings tripled, and for those of you who didn’t tune in on Facebook and other platforms, don’t miss it next year.  Believe it or not, they are already plotting their 2019 collaborative goals.

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Hollywood Squares Hosts – Tom Bergeron and Peter Marshall

Mario Lopez and Sheryl Underwood are just golden on stage.  The two have “day” jobs as you know, with “Extra” and the hugely popular CBS “The Talk.” David Michaels had an idea that he’d incorporate Mario Lopez and his daughter’s skit into the show, and Mario was all for it.  He and Sheryl are fierce, they are brave enough to tackle anything, and this year everything that David Michaels had in his ‘grand’ vision was pulled off with aplomb.  He also came up with the idea of having Bradley P. Bell (Daytime Emmy winning head writer and executive producer of Bell Phillip’s “The Bold and the Beautiful”) and his beautiful sister Lauralee Bell, also a Daytime Emmy Award-winner and a beloved longtime actress on “The Young and the Restless” to present together.  In all of the years the Bell (kids, all grown up of course) have been involved in their parents’ business, they never appeared together on stage. Michaels has such a unique way of bringing classic Hollywood to a modern day event.

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Brandon McMillan (Host of CBS’s “Lucky Dog”

“They were touched by it, Tommy.  Of course it’s Brad and Lauralee, they were allowed to come up with nuances and their chemistry on their own.”  David later reminded Highlight Hollywood that it was CBS Daytime Vice President Angelical McDaniel who actually came up wiht the idea of having the Bell siblings on stage during the show.

Another moment that brought tears to viewers’ eyes was when Brandon McMillan of CBS’s “Lucky Dog” appeared on stage with a wounded warrior.

“Brandon and Chris both have similar beliefs about things, and you know Tommy, that Brandon’s work for the veterans is legendary.  But, you guessed it, they were just perfect together.”It was a far cry from last year’s genius skit with Brandon and his dogs, but Brandon has the charm of Cary Grant when the camera is on, so he can work with anyone. Hey, he was on stage this year with an American hero, last year with dogs, will next year mean he works with kids? “You’ll have to stay tuned,” David Michaels joked, in the quintessential continuing Daytime Genre-mode.

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Larry King and Carolyn Hennesy

And Carolyn Hennesy stole the show. From the red carpet to backstage post Emmy Awards, this beautiful diva never slowed down, never missed a beat and really managed to entertain as well as inform.  Everyone felt amazed seeing her go nonstop, and yet David Michaels tells me, “She barely ate or had any water breaks. She’s phenomenal, and no one is quite like her.  She asks intelligent and yet humorous questions, she knows the industry and she loves doing the red carpet events and everyone complimented her or us on her.  I don’t know where she gets the energy from, but it goes without saying, yes, she’s our choice again next year, if she’ll have us.”Kent Speakman, CEO at KNEKT and his team garners a great deal of praise from David Parks, who is our resident technical genius.  If I had any personal events with a big budget, Parks is the only man I’d hire.  He is so charismatic and thoughtful, bright and engaging, but he works so hard when he’s behind-the-scenes that people are often shocked that he’s even in the room.  He’s quiet and thinking, planning the next thing that will be needed. Where as David Michaels has the history and the vision, Parks has the vision to make it happen.  The A-Team, that I can say they are for sure.

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NATAS Chairman Chuck Dages

But like Michaels, Parks credits the crew with, “Long hours, hard work, they made far less than they would and have doing the Academy Awards, Governors Ball and other events.  But they didn’t mind rolling up their sleeves and giving it their all.”  Dave just manages to pull the team together and this after spending days, hours with David [Michaels] to talk about what they want to convey.
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David and Marie Osmond

What our team and other critics found so amazing, is that you could see that actors, actresses who were even award-nominated or winners were equally as impressed as the millions of viewers, many of which reached out to us on Facebook and Twitter and raved about the production this year.  It was truly the best Emmys show in 25 years in my opinion.  David Michael graciously thanked me for the compliment and added, “Dave and I do have great synergy.  We put in a lot of hours of planning before we even meet with the crew and team and I guess he knows me better than anyone at this point and I feel the same about him.”
Michaels event pointed out, “No one has just one job. Because we are a smaller team, there are even members of the crew and thanks to KNEKT, that helped us find additional sponsors this year.  And their vision of the streaming was out of this world. We are very pleased, and as you point out, Tommy, many fans reached out and expressed their gratitude and astonishment about this year’s show.”
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Mario Lopez with his daughter, Gia Francesca Lopez

Still a great deal of weight was put on the shoulders of Sheryl Underwood and Mario Lopez, whose chemistry is crackling like that of Daytime superstars.  “They had just a short time to prepare a read through and then they were ready to go,” Parks tells Highlight Hollywood.  “But Tommy, David Michael knows everyone in this industry, as you know. So, when we had to think about improv during the show, he knew which actors would get up and dance and make it work.  And yes, beforehand he told me that Michelle Stafford (Emmy Award winner from “Y&R” and “GH”) and Finola Hughes would definitely get things going.  See, he knows them personally, so it worked out.” As David Michael’s chuckles in the background. He’s right, David Michaels knows, and the two hit everything out of the park, no pun intended.

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Jaime Farr and Loretta Swit

Seeing Jamie Farr and Loretta Swit on stage created a major stir in the audience. Yes, that standing ovation was organic.  That definitely wasn’t planned. “I had the same reaction watching it,” Michaels confessed. Adding, “And Peter Marshall is a natural, I knew he’d be great with Mario and Sheryl and they just went with it and followed his lead. That’s what is so great about this team. No one has an ego about things, everyone wants to be a part of the team and Dave [Parks] and I could not be more grateful.  But it seems Marie Osmond managed to be the one who brought out the star-struck side of David Michaels. He couldn’t hide that. As for David Parks, he’s far too cool to let on who he feels star struck around.  Then again, he’s too busy with his nose to the proverbial grindstone, making sure that everything from lights, camera to the action – are on par with excellence.

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Bill Hayes and Susan Seaford Hayes

What is most impressive is that every time I have spoken with David Michaels and now (hopefully, a regular thing) with David Parks, they seems sincerely and genuinely happy and in awe of their responsibilities. Both men, such handsome and polite gentleman with the chemistry of Laurel and Hardy, though far better looking, are ready for their next Daytime Emmys event in 2019.  “I guess we’ll start talking about it again in October,” David Parks tells us.  With David Michaels ready to begin planning this very second. This man never sleeps, and thankfully they have a passion for the Daytime Emmy Awards, and it shows.

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Sid & Marty Krofft

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Opening Number features flash dance

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  NATAS
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