Ellen DeGeneres swept the Daytime Emmy awards, winning best talk show host for the second time and earning talk show honors for the third consecutive year.
“I feel lucky,” she said backstage Friday night after winning the talk show award. “I found something that I feel comfortable doing and people seem to like what I do.”
DeGeneres will have to make room for another big-name comic in daytime television this fall: Barbara Walters announced that Rosie O’Donnell will return to the talk show circuit, replacing Meredith Vieira on “The View.”
“Well, thank God, because it was either that or ‘Celebrity Fit Club,”’ said O’Donnell, a former Emmy-winning daytime talk host.
Walters added, “We’re so lucky to have her.”
Vieira will become “Today” show co-host in September when Katie Couric moves to the “CBS Evening News.”
O’Donnell quit her successful show after six years to spend more time raising her four children.
“This gives her the opportunity to do both — to be in television, to not have to do everything,” Walters said. “It also means that she can finish at noon and pick her kids up from school.”
The news about O’Donnell was just one of the new twists for the 33rd annual Daytime Emmys. For the first time in the show’s history, the ceremony was moved from New York to the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, home of the Academy Awards.
Former ’80s teen idol Rick Springfield, who recently returned to “General Hospital” after 23 years, opened the three-hour show in an outdoor fan zone singing a medley of his hits before moving inside and concluded with “Jessie’s Girl.”
“Guiding Light” won four Daytime Emmys, including Kim Zimmer as lead actress. Zimmer earned her fourth career trophy for a story line in which her character Reva Shayne Lewis went through menopause and eventually fell down an elevator shaft.
“I’m at the end of my contract,” she said. “Maybe the gods are intervening and saying you can’t leave now. We’ll see what happens.”
“Guiding Light” also had a trio of first-time winners: Gina Tognoni for supporting actress, Tom Pelphrey as younger actor and Jordan Clarke for supporting actor.
“Oh my goodness, I didn’t expect this,” an exuberant Tognoni said.
“General Hospital” won for best drama and directing. The ABC soap opera has earned a record nine trophies in the drama category.
Tony Geary of “General Hospital” took home his fifth Daytime Emmy as lead actor. He first won in 1982.
“My face may be falling, but my heart and my spirit are still soaring,” the 58-year-old actor said backstage. “Those of us over 50 and even 40 sometimes feel overlooked. This is a very gratifying win for that reason.”
CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” topped the nominations list with 18, but its only trophy was for writing.
Jennifer Landon of “As the World Turns” won her first Emmy for younger actress. A year ago, the 22-year-old actress was a college student before getting her big break playing the scruffy Gwen.
“Oh boy, I have heartburn,” said Landon, the daughter of the late Michael Landon of “Little House on the Prairie” fame, who never won an Emmy.
“To my Poppa, thank you,” she said.
Vieira of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” lost as game-show host, to Alex Trebek of “Jeopardy!” The quiz show was honored last week for game/audience participation show.
“Sesame Street” won for preschool children’s series, making it 12-for-12 in the category.
Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on “Sesame Street,” received the lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.