'Hospital' Shift Marks the Daytime Emmy Awards


The Daytime Emmy Awards cover all of daytime television, but this year's ceremony will check into "General Hospital" in a big way.

Nominated for her portrayal of Samantha "Sam" McCall on the venerable ABC serial, Kelly Monaco will reunite with "Dancing with the Stars" host Tom Bergeron to preside over the 33rd annual ceremony Friday, April 28, also on ABC.

Rick Springfield, who has revived his 1980s "General Hospital" role as Dr. Noah Drake, will open the award show musically as it relocates from New York to originate from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre -- also the home of the Oscars -- for the first time.

"It's certainly an honor to have been chosen to co-host," says Monaco, who landed her first Daytime Emmy nomination for playing Livvie on the "General Hospital" spinoff "Port Charles" in 2003. "I don't think I've ever hosted anything in my life, except for some gatherings at my home. This is just a bigger gathering, and it's sort of like home. Also, knowing Tom from doing 'Dancing with the Stars,' there isn't a better person I could have next to me."

Monaco acknowledges that also being up for a Daytime Emmy will help make it "a big night. I'd like to kind of forget about the nomination until the moment for that award comes up, and just stay focused on hosting. I want to be in the moment with the whole thing. I think that's something I forgot to do with 'Dancing With the Stars,' to just breathe and experience it. I'll do that better this time."

Indeed, Monaco reports that on the path to her "Dancing with the Stars" triumph, "I didn't remember anything that happened during the whole process. I had to go home and watch it on TiVo. I'd think things like, 'I said that?' or, 'I didn't mess up there.' Something I call the Dancing Fairy came down right before the live shows and invaded my mind and body. I'd like the Daytime Emmy Fairy to come down and guide me this time."

While Monaco was moonlighting as a highly visible dancer, "General Hospital" worked her as hard as ever. "It was really difficult," she allows, "but it was also a challenge I readily accepted. I was working 10 to 15 hours a day on 'General Hospital,' then training five hours a day for 'Dancing.' I had to take Thursdays off [from the soap], because that's when 'Dancing' aired; to compensate for the day I missed, I'd have to do two episodes on Monday or Friday. It was a lot of work, but there was a great payoff at the end."

Not only did that encompass Monaco's "Dancing" victory, but also a "General Hospital" story line that has kept her prominent on the show since. She reflects, "Daytime television has some of the hardest-working actors and actresses and writers and producers, and a lot of the time, that goes under the radar. I was glad to bring some press and publicity to daytime TV again."

Springfield has maintained his music career -- and his fan base -- since scoring hits such as "Jessie's Girl" and "Don't Talk to Strangers" during his first "General Hospital" tour of duty. "It seemed like a great idea to do it, absolutely," he says of kicking off the Daytime Emmys. "I've embraced the whole daytime thing again, because everything has changed. Back in the early '80s, I was kind of fighting it, but this has been very positive."

While he continues to perform new music as he records and tours, Springfield is planning to fill his Daytime Emmys spot with his most familiar tunes, "just as a way of saying, 'Good evening.' I don't think that's the place to foist a bunch of new songs on people. I think it's appropriate that we do a real tight medley of some of the bigger hits."

Sure to be noted during the 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards is the recent death of Gloria Monty, the executive producer who led "General Hospital" through its legendary Luke-and-Laura years and who made Springfield a star by hiring him for the serial. He confirms he's "really enjoying acting" again: "I've led a lot of life since the last time I was on the show, so there's a lot to draw from. It's been really great, day to day, just working the acting muscles."

The current Noah Drake story line certainly allows for that, since it deals with his drinking problem and his troubled relationship with his fellow-doctor son, Patrick (Jason Thompson).

"I would have been incredibly bored if they'd brought him back as the same character, just hitting on women," Springfield notes, adding that his daytime-television reprise is impacting his music career again. "It's raised the awareness that I'm out there. Ultimately, that lives or dies on the music we create, but the extra attention only helps."

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