On Wednesday, March 18, members of the “General Hospital” Fan Club received an email from the club’s president, Debbie Morris, with what seemed like exciting news for fans regarding this year’s Daytime Emmy Awards. The email stated a limited number of fans would have the opportunity to show their support for the “General Hospital” cast in the red carpet bleacher seats at this year’s awards show on April 26. In fact, the fan clubs of all four of the remaining network soaps were given the task of choosing lucky fans to fill the coveted spots.
“General Hospital” airs weekdays at 2pm PST on Riverside affiliate KABC channel 7.
The news was even more exciting given this year’s show will actually be televised on the POP network as opposed to last year’s unfortunate online debacle. The event will also be moving to Warner Brother’s Studios in Burbank, CA
But upon reading the GH Fan Club email a bit further, there was a shocking requirement for applying. “The Academy has allotted an equal amount of bleacher seating to each daytime show. They are looking for 18-45 year old viewers only.”
Anyone who has any knowledge of soaps knows that while 18-45 may be the coveted age range for marketing, it is far from the target demographic for soaps. In fact, an article on website Broadcasting and Cable in 2012 indicated the median age for the four current network soaps ranges from 54 to 58 years old – nearly ten years over the limit imposed by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for those sought-after red carpet spots.
It didn’t take long for the backlash to begin. In fact, it appeared the angry responses to the GH Fan Club must have been numerous as President Debbie Morris sent out a follow up email on March 19 to clarify they were not the ones responsible for the age limitation. “Those rules are coming from the Awards Show putting on the event. It is not coming from the GH Fan Club nor is it coming from the studios of ‘General Hospital.’ We love all fans and are equally as disappointed as you are. If anything changes you will be the first to know.”
TV Guide columnist Michael Logan took to Twitter to express his feelings on the age cutoff, Tweeting, “Not cool. #NATAS and @PopTV are looking for soap fans for the @DaytimeEmmys red carpet bleachers – but they don’t want anyone over 45!” The responses to his Tweets showed fans were in total agreement with many screaming age discrimination and asking what the NATAS was thinking.
It didn’t take long for the Academy to correct their mistake, and just six hours after their last email on Thursday, the GH Fan Club sent out another communication with a message from NATAS.
“Earlier today, there was an unfortunate misunderstanding regarding an invitation for fans to be part of the Daytime Emmy® Awards audience. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) would like to clarify that there are NO age restrictions for fans to attend the 42nd Annual Daytime Emmy® Awards. Currently, the responsibility of filling these limited number of seats has been entrusted to the very capable hands of the official fan clubs of the four Daytime Dramas to select those lucky few who will join us on April 26th.”
Michael Fairman of “On-Air, On-Soaps” spoke with David Michaels, Senior Vice President, Daytime Emmy Awards, who apologized for the controversy. “It was never our intention to exclude any of the passionate and dedicated soap fans, who would love to be with us on Emmy night. ” He stated not only were those over 45 welcome to apply for the seats, but those ages 12 and up were also allowed to throw their hats in the ring, claiming there was never any intention to exclude older or younger fans.
“I believe this situation has been blown way out of proportion,” Michaels told “On-Air, On Soaps.” “An email went out that NATAS was unaware of that had some unfortunate wording, which at its face value could really be misconstrued. Based on parameters set forth by our venue this year, the only age restriction we have been informed of is that people must be at least 12-years-old and up.”
Whether there really was a misunderstanding or simply a fast back pedal by NATAS, all but the very youngest of fans are now eligible to apply for a chance at being on the red carpet on April 26. “General Hospital” fans can email Debbie Morris through the fan club to apply. You must either be Los Angeles based or able to provide your own transportation on Emmy day. Fans of any of the other three soaps, “The Young and the Restless,” “Days of Our Lives” or “The Bold and the Beautiful” should contact their respective fan clubs to apply for consideration.