EXCLUSIVE UPDATED with NATAS’ response: The Daytime Emmy Awards are in danger of losing one of their biggest attractions, the daytime dramas, whose acting nominees bring star power to the ceremony. I have learned that in an unprecedented show of unity, all four daytime soaps, The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and The Young and the Restless, have come together to demand changes in the voting and accounting practices for the awards and the way the competition is held.

The joint letter, sent today to National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences chair Terry O’Reilly and interim president and CEO Adam Sharp, is in response to the recent gaffe in which Patrika Darbo’s 2018 Daytime Emmy for her guest-starring role on Amazon’s soap opera The Bay was rescinded after NATAS found submission errors in her category and others. Last month, Darbos called out the group for its actions and called for an outside audit “to restore integrity and confidence in” the awards.

“We are disheartened by the recent events involving NATAS and the 45th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards competition and the decisions made by NATAS regarding the Digital categories of Supporting Actor and Guest Star,” reps for the four soaps wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Deadline. “We feel the time is appropriate to bring to your attention our serious concerns about the Daytime Emmy Awards competition.” The four shows went on to say they “are united in their decision not to participate in the Daytime Emmy Awards moving forward until these important issues are resolved.”

Such a boycott would be a huge blow to the Daytime Emmy Awards, which has lost a lot of its luster of one-time premiere TV event.

O’Reilly on Tuesday responded to the letter. “We have great confidence in the integrity of our Emmy awards system, and believe it effectively honors the best work being done in Daytime Television today,” he said in the statement. “That having been said, we always take concerns about our systems seriously…and out of an abundance of caution I have instructed that outside counsel be retained to evaluate these concerns and conduct an independent look at them.”

The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and The Young and the Restless said that they “want a competition free of bias, perceived collusion, and personal agendas.” They went on to list their concerns:

1. Voting:
• Voting should be limited to members of NATAS or the Television Academy.
• All members should be eligible to vote for outstanding show. The current process in which NATAS selects who votes is unacceptable.
• All qualified members in a given category should be eligible to vote in that category.
• We are concerned about conflict of interest in the voter pools. We require complete transparency of the voting process.

2. Accountancy Firm:
• NATAS must stop instructing the accounting firm to disqualify certain ballots because of NATAS perception of block voting or other issues that NATAS arbitrarily deems a reason to disqualify.
• A written procedure must be put in place for questioning and if necessary disqualify a ballot.
• An independent body needs to deal with all process issues and or discrepancies.
• NATAS must have an arm’s length relationship with the accountants.
• An outside, neutral third party must be hired to audit the voting process across all categories for the 2017/2018 awards and those results must be made available to us and to the TV Academy.

3. Winners Known in Advance:
• We were promised by NATAS senior management that the winners would only be known to the accountants prior to being announced on stage. This has not been the practice.
• Despite their assurance, it was clear during the April 2018 ceremony that the winners were known by many in advance. This is unacceptable.

4. Competition vs. Awards Show:
• We feel that it is a conflict of interest for the executive(s) administering the competition in any way, shape or form to also produce the awards show. The executive in charge of the competition is responsible for the integrity of the competition and the awards. We feel that this conflict contributed to recent transgressions regarding the Digital Guest and Supporting performer categories.
• NATAS must hire a team, separate from the competition executive(s), to produce and executive produce the actual awards show.
• The rules need to be more detailed and include the procedure and process for all aspects of the competition. The concerns listed above are very serious to us. Our goal is to bring integrity back to the Daytime Emmy competition and awards show. We have no confidence in the ability of the persons currently running the competition to accomplish this goal.

The letter was signed by Greg Meng, Co-Executive Producer, Days of Our Lives; John Fisher, Supervising Producer, The Young and the Restless; Steven Kent, SEVP Programming, Sony Pictures Television; which produces Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless; Frank Valentini, Executive Producer, General Hospital; Eva Basler, VP Communications, Bell-Phillip TV Prods., The Bold and the Beautiful. Kent and Basler also are Governors of the TV Academy.

Patrika Darbo
REX/Shutterstock

NATAS had said after the Daytime Emmys were handed out in April that it discovered “some entrants’ submissions in two categories may have been in violation of the published guidelines for the competition,” which state that prior-season appearances are disqualifying.

But in her open letter last month, Darbo said that NATAS knew about the submission errors “two days prior to the ceremony and made a conscious decision not to deal with it until after the ceremony was over.” She said the organization’s “arbitrary and after-the-fact ruling feels inequitable and wrong.”

Darbo, The Days of Our Lives and Bold and the Beautiful veteran, a co-governor of the Performers Peer Group at the TV Academy, which oversees the Primetime Emmys, called for an outside audit of this year’s Daytime Emmys’ submission and voting process.

“The inequity in this year’s Daytime Emmys based on ageism, gender inequality, and perceived favoritism is, in my opinion, a big blow to the Emmy brand,” she wrote. “The TV Academy, who administers the Primetime Emmy Awards, is very clear that Emmys are awarded to those who achieve excellence in television. I’m beginning to wonder what NATAS feels the Emmys stand for.”