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And the winner is … Las Vegas

Dear CBS executives: Thanks for turning last night’s Daytime Emmy Awards into a two-hour advertisement for the city of Las Vegas. Where do we send the check?

The prime-time show was shot at the Las Vegas Hilton and heralded performances by the casts of “KA,” “Jersey Boys” and “The Lion King,” the Blue Man Group and Marie Osmond — with presentations from Wayne Brady and David Copperfield, plus video of Garth Brooks, Cher, Donny Osmond and even Don Rickles, who got a plug for playing The Orleans.

Right in the middle of the show, there was a pre-recorded video of some daytime actress touring the Elvis suite at the Hilton, ending with this shout-out to Vegas: “Bigger is better here, with the amazing variety of restaurants!”

And writer-producer Bradley Bell screamed, “I love Las Vegas!” when his soap, “The Bold and the Beautiful,” won best drama.

CBS leaned on Vegas to give the Emmys a boost of entertainment value because: The Daytime Emmys had been relegated to the smaller CW network last year, and CBS wanted to sexy them up for viewers who don’t know Maura West (best actress) from Julie Pinson (best supporting actress).

“Being in Vegas actually gave it a shot in the arm,” Roger Newcomb, editorial director of WeLoveSoaps.net, told me.

Crappily, though, only a few daytime behemoths showed up. Oprah didn’t come. Ellen stayed home. None of the hens of “The View” came to cluck. There was no Judge Judy. Imagine if George Clooney skipped the Oscars, or if the cast of “Lost” didn’t do the Primetime Emmy Awards. It’s a slight, right?

This is how awesome Oprah’s and Ellen’s lives must be: Emmys host Regis Philbin kept constantly joking that he never wins, yet Oprah and Ellen (who have taken their names out of award contention because they’ve won so many) didn’t even take a free trip to Las Vegas to appear on network TV in prime time and to give Regis and other daytime performers a pat on the back.

But the no-shows and never-RSVP’d list really got silly when Dr. Mehmet Oz won best talk show host for his first year of “The Doctor Oz Show,” and even he wasn’t there to pick up his statue.

It was a bizarre feeling backstage, unlike other award shows in Vegas.

For one thing, network publicists were super-seriously rooting for their networks. One flack kept chanting a network’s name over and over in hopes the employer would be victorious.

“Come on!” the publicist said. “I don’t want my executives to be pissed later.”

When that network won, the publicist let out a big happy “Boom!”

For another odd thing, many of the 100 or so journalists (from newspapers, TV, radio and the Web), didn’t know who many of the daytime performers were. We were so glad to spot Montel Williams and Rachael Ray.

Beforehand, hundreds of soap fans lined the red carpet inside the Hilton and screamed devotion to idols. One woman in red glided across the red carpet, waving to her left at adoring fans. Then she turned to her right and waved at the media, and we were all, like, “What? Who?”

Quite a few soap writers covered the event, though. They were super into it. Damon L. Jacobs, feature editor for WeLoveSoaps.net, shrieked with joy when certain actors won awards.

Jacobs was glad to see the awards back on a big network that showered shows with earnest reverence.

But with “Guiding Light” leaving the air, and “As the World Turns” perishing in September, the WeLoveSoaps.net guys are hoping for remaining soaps to merely stay on TV.

Newcomb claims one future of soaps are indie-soap shorts, about seven minutes each, and that air just once a week online (like Robert Townsend’s “Diary of a Single Mom.”)

“I think the business model for daytime — a million bucks a week to produce five hours a week — is almost too much for people to watch,” Newcomb said.

By the way, who watches the Daytime Emmys? The driving audience is usually soap fans. If that’s the case this year, we can expect soap fans to start booking rooms here, as long as they don’t come down with amnesia and forget.

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. E-mail delfman@reviewjournal.com.
He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.

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