If the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences ever starts an Emmy award category for Best Smile While Suffering Great Pain, it won't need to count any ballots. Susan Lucci will take one home every year.
Lucci, who plays the veteran bad girl Erica Kane on ABC's "All My Children," is, by now, an expert at smiling through pain. Many think she's so good at it that she even could win a Miss Congeniality contest while undergoing a root canal.Clearly, she has perfected her emotional control during a decade as a perennial nominee in the annual daytime Emmy awards. Nominated 10 times through 1989, Lucci never has won. This year she collected nomination No. 11 in the "lead actress, dramatic series" category for the 17th annual Daytime Emmy Awards, which ABC (Ch. 4) will telecast Thursday at 1 p.m. MDT.
Once again, Lucci's yearly humiliation will be the most debated issue of the annual awards show, which once more will be hosted by Emmy winner Oprah Winfrey, who's a nominee herself again in the talk-service show hosting category.
Though Lucci has been the most celebrated daytime soap star of them all for several years, she has continued to lose out to daytime actresses whose soap opera characters are more likable than the conniving and corrupt Erica Kane.
Still, many believe she's building up a huge reservoir of good will among the Emmy voters for the class she's displayed as daytime television's all-time good sport. Those who suspect she rushes home from the Emmy show and slashes fan magazine photos of the winner so far have developed no solid evidence.
This year's crop of nominations contains at least one other category with a modicum of irony, if not suspense: The "special class program" category, in which Dick Clark's rival NBC "Sixth Annual Soap Opera Awards" show might actually win an Emmy on the ABC telecast it has imitated.
Also competing in that oddball, catchall category are "Bernstein in Berlin," a PBS music special; "Fight Back! With David Horowitz," a syndicated consumer show; "Good Morning America," the No. 1 network morning show, and "Siskel & Ebert," a syndicated movie review program.
Nominations cover the broadcast period from March 6, 1989, through March 5, 1990. Awards are voted on by members of the separate New York and Los Angeles television academies.
Among the presenters this year are Michael E. Knight and Jill Larson of "All My Children," Kristoff St. John and Vivica Fox of "Generations," Fiona Hutchinson and Nicholas Walker of "One Life to Live," Finola Hughes, Kimberly McCullough, Kin Shriner and Lynn Herring of "General Hospital," Jeanne Cooper and Quinn Redeker of "The Young and the Restless."