Actors and talk show hosts. First-time nominees and previous winners. Series that will continue and others now canceled.
There's a little bit of everything at the Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards, as the 37th annual edition will show when CBS televises the event from the Las Vegas Hilton at 9 p.m. Sunday. Many familiar faces will be on hand -- afternoon-drama queen Susan Lucci among them -- as this year's lifetime achievement award is presented to Agnes Nixon, creator of the ABC staples "All My Children" and "One Life to Live."
Just as last year's Daytime Emmys marked a last hurrah for a CBS serial that seemed to have run forever -- "Guiding Light" -- so it is again this time. "As the World Turns" ends its 54-year run Sept. 17, and among those who have earned one of the show's final 13 nominations is daytime drama veteran Jon Lindstrom ("General Hospital," "Port Charles"), who has played the ever-ambitious Craig Montgomery since late 2008.
Lindstrom ironically has landed his first-ever Daytime Emmy bid, for outstanding lead actor in a drama series, for a job that's soon to end. His last scenes as Craig were slated to be taped just before the ceremony, and he says that though he has no idea how Craig's story will conclude, "I just hope somebody throws him under a bus, or he finds some way to change his ways spectacularly, so that it's authentic as well as creative."
Preceded in the role by several other actors, Scott Bryce and Hunt Block being the longest-running, Lindstrom notes that he replaced another performer in a soap role "once before, way at the beginning of my career, but it wasn't a really well-known show nor a well-known character. The fact was that I was doing my first regular job on television, and I just wanted to get it right.
"This time, though, I have to admit that it was like stepping into the shoes of James Bond or something. Everybody had their opinion about the character and believed they knew how he should be played. If I was doing it differently than what they expected, I was greeted with either a surprised smile or a look of utter befuddlement, as if to say, 'How could you possibly interpret this character that way?'
Among Lindstrom's rivals for his potential Daytime Emmy are his "As the World Turns" co-star Michael Park, as well as Doug Davidson (CBS' "The Young and the Restless") and James Scott (NBC's "Days of our Lives"). Also up for it is Peter Bergman, who has won the honor three times as Jack Abbott on "The Young and the Restless." He claims his 16th Daytime Emmy nomination for the role is no less special.
"That year's going to come when I'm not a nominee," Bergman acknowledges, citing the current status of daytime drama in general. "We've been hearing about the end of it for a very long time, and I doubt there's an actor in daytime television who isn't saddened, either because they have friends who are on the shows (that have ended or are about to) or because they happen to be on the top floor of this slowly sinking ship. It gets a little more perilous."
Still, the ratings for "The Young and the Restless" are "doing just fine in comparison to last year," says Bergman, who scored his first Daytime Emmy bid in 1983 as Cliff Warner on ABC's "All My Children."
"While we've lost something," the actor reflects of the cancellations of some daytime shows, "we've also gained something. It's considerably more efficient now. Everyone realizes now that it's about the writing, so the writers are more engaged. For a long time, you could coast, and you can't do that anymore."
It could be another big year for Rachael Ray at the Daytime Emmys, too. The vivacious food expert's eponymous, syndicated weekday show is up again for outstanding talk show/entertainment, which it won for two of its three past nominations in the category. Ray herself has her third chance to win for outstanding talk show host.
"I think our show is unique," Ray says, "in that we're truly a mixture of a cooking show and a chat show. What I'm most proud of is that people see a lot of themselves in the show. We're not totally celebrity-driven; we're thrilled to have the celebs on and have them sit at our kitchen table and make chitchat, but we have so much else."