SOAP WATCH

Can Emmy Nods Help Save 'Days?'

''Days of Our Lives'' had four actors named in this year's Emmy nominations, but will that help keep daytime's fourth-place show on the air as NBC's sole remaining soap opera?

Days of Our Lives | THAAO PENGHLIS The actor is one of four ''Days'' thesps to get a Daytime Emmy nod this year
THAAO PENGHLIS The actor is one of four ''Days'' thesps to get a Daytime Emmy nod this year

This year's Daytime Emmy nominations have pundits weighing in on everything from the continued dominance of CBS, which got 56 nods, to Martha Stewart's decision to skip the whole thing. But what many Days of Our Lives fans want to know is, what does the show's four acting nods — a surprise after snubs in recent years — mean for its uncertain future at NBC?

NBC Daytime wouldn't comment specifically on whether the Emmy nominations — for lead actor (Thaao Penghlis), supporting actress (Judi Evans), younger actress (Rachel Melvin), and younger actor (Darin Brooks) — have improved the show's chances of remaining as the network's last daytime drama. But that doesn't mean the Peacock brass hasn't taken notice of its soap opera's raised Emmy profile.

''It's just really nice to have the show be recognized, since it's been a little bit of a drought,'' said Bruce Evans, who as senior vice president, current series, oversees NBC's daytime division.

Fans have been on edge since NBC head Jeff Zucker reportedly suggested last year that Days, which has been on the air since 1965, would probably not continue on NBC past the end of its contract in 2009. Last year's departure of Passions, which moved from NBC to DirecTV last summer (DirecTV has since canceled it as well, with the final episode set to air in August), has only stoked fears that NBC is getting out of the soap business entirely.

Ratings rule the day, of course, and that may not bode well for Days, which continually hovers around fourth place amongst daytime dramas, averaging 2.7 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. But Evans still isn't taking the soap's Emmy nods for granted.

''Certainly, ratings are the most important thing, but I really do think that it's a great thing to have your show be acknowledged for delivering quality work,'' the exec said. ''I'm not going to undervalue it. I think it's really important.''

So what's the strategy moving forward? ''I'm not looking to do these big splashy storylines that are hyper-reality. I want to stick to the basics,'' Evans said. ''I think the show should be what's made it popular in the past — the family bonds and ties between these characters and the romance that people want to see in daytime. And certainly, that's what we're going to deliver.''

SOUND BITE
''The older I get, the more it means to me. In a medium that reveres youth and beauty, as one ages, it's most encouraging to still be in the game.'' — General Hospital's Anthony Geary, on receiving his 12th Daytime Emmy nomination

Originally posted May 12, 2008
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