The cads and vixens who stir up heartbreak and trouble on daytime television are throwing a party in Oscar's house Friday night.
The Daytime Emmy Awards, honoring everything from soap operas to talk shows to kids programs, will be handed out at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, the site of March's Academy Awards telecast.
It's the first trip out of New York in the 33-year history of the Daytime Emmys (ABC, 8 p.m. EDT.)
"They're going to the Oscar showcase as if to demand the same respect as the film glitterati," said Tom O'Neil, columnist for theenvelope.com. "This is an industry that is desperate for respect."
The move was triggered by NBC's decision not to take its turn televising the awards because of the network's limited daytime presence.
(MSNBC is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC.)
The network airs just two of the nine daytime soaps ("Days of Our Lives" and the highly campy "Passions") and received only two nominations — for children's shows — among the major categories.
"It was a little small-minded of NBC to take their marbles and go home and I don't think the actors appreciated that," said Carolyn Hinsey, editor of Soap Opera Weekly. "NBC shows are really popular with the fans."
ABC stepped in, moved the show west and chose Tom Bergeron and Kelly Monaco as hosts. Both appeared on the network's hit "Dancing With the Stars."
"We've gotten more coverage and more noise and more fan response and more buzz" than he's experienced before said Peter Price, in his fourth year as president of the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which oversees the Daytime Emmys.
The show is expanding to three hours for the first time since 2003, when the ABC telecast drew 8.6 million viewers — down more than 1.4 million from the previous year.
"That's a brilliant ploy because they can get in so much more material than just awards presentations," O'Neil said.
Former '80s teen idol Rick Springfield, who recently returned to ABC's "General Hospital" after 23 years, is set to kick off the telecast with a medley of his greatest hits. Actresses from the network's "One Life to Live" will sing Broadway show tunes and the cast of ABC's prime-time hit "Grey's Anatomy" will turn up.
Caroll Spinney, who portrays "Sesame Street" favorites Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, will receive a lifetime achievement award.
CBS' "The Young and the Restless" — the most-watched soap — earned a leading 18 Daytime Emmy nominations, but none in the lead-acting categories.
The lead-actress category appears to be a two-diva race between Kim Zimmer of CBS' "Guiding Light" and Susan Flannery of CBS' "The Bold and the Beautiful."
Zimmer has 10 nominations and three wins, but none in 16 years. Flannery is a four-time winner.
"Flannery is great every year," Hinsey said. "Let's get someone new in there."
Springfield might not be the only `80s throwback in the spotlight Friday. Anthony Geary, half of the blockbuster Luke and Laura story line on "General Hospital" in the big-hair decade, is the front-runner for lead actor.
Hinsey and O'Neil predict the 58-year-old actor will take home his fifth Daytime Emmy.
"He had all these great scenes with his son before pulling the plug," Hinsey said. "It was really moving — the material they give him and what he does with it."
How the Daytime Emmys telecast fares in the ratings will factor into the day-after discussions about its future location.
Ratings for the Daytime Emmys — like the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys — have been in freefall.
The numbers for the Daytime Emmys have slipped six years straight, tumbling from 14.2 million in 1999, when Susan Lucci of "All My Children" broke an 18-year losing streak by winning lead actress, to 7.6 million in 2005.
"We all know in the television business it's getting fragmented and harder to be heard among the voices out there," Price said, crediting ABC for increased promotion of this year's show, including a national mall tour by soap actors.
"How that translates into eyeballs in prime-time Friday night, I don't know," he said.