Friday, April 9, 2010

FLASHBACK: Peter Simon's 'Average' Guy Nets an Emmy Nomination (1994)


By Marla Hart
Chicago Tribune
May 19, 1994

When most people think daytime hero, they picture a buff guy who goes shirtless during sweeps and has a great head of hair. Peter Simon, who quietly has portrayed Ed Bauer for 12 years as the moral-but-flawed pillar of the community on GUIDING LIGHT (2 p.m. weekdays, CBS-Ch. 2), fans the libido of viewers who like their men balding and world-weary.

"When I lose all my hair, am I still going to be working? I'm not the Telly Savalas type," the 50-year-old Simon says only half-jokingly. "You have to physically fit what you're feeling inside."

Simon should be feeling pretty good, nominated in an impressive field as outstanding lead actor for this year's Daytime Emmy Award.

A veteran of AS THE WORLD TURNS and SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, this is Simon's first trip into Emmyland. The nominating procedure requires actors to submit their own names, and it was not until this year that Simon put himself in the running.

"At the beginning, I made a pompous moral point not to submit myself for consideration," he explains. "I finally realized, we're not saving lives here. I like the idea that actors checked my name off (to determine the five finalists)," he says with undue modesty. "I would trade it for a year's worth of good story."

Simon is almost surely being recognized belatedly by this nomination for his performance in a storyline that ended more than a year ago.

Simon's character, Ed, the chief of staff at Cedars Hospital in Springfield, was unfaithful to his wife Maureen, and her discovery of the single act of infidelity indirectly caused her fatal car crash. Burdened by guilt, Simon created scenes of rare existential power. There was no raging bull, no oversized villainy; his was a portrait of a man so burdened by guilt that Ed's now-empty kitchen seemed to cast an accusing gaze.

"It was the best work of my career," Simon says. "I hadn't been used for a long time and I was starved."

Unfortunately, his storyline-of-a-lifetime bombed with an audience mortified that their beloved Maureen had been killed off.

"With the audience so upset, the show (producers) got scared and said we couldn't continue along those lines," Simon explains.

A native New Yorker, Simon attended Exeter, then graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. He appeared with the New York Shakespeare Festival and wrote the critically acclaimed 1986 play "In Case Of Accident." The actor is married to Courtney Smith (Lynn Michaels on "ATWT" as well as a writer for "GL."). The couple have a teenage daughter, and Simon has two grown children from a previous marriage.

The actor joined "GL" as a member of the seminal Bauer clan in 1981, then left the show for three years. "I did try to get out (of daytime) five years ago," Simon recalls. "I said to myself, `I'm going to go out there and do regional theater.' I couldn't get arrested. Here I was in my mid-40s. Directors were nervous. So when GUIDING LIGHT called and said, `Do you want to come back?' I said, `Yes!' "

Although his Everyman storyline was aborted in favor of a May-December romance with the young Eve (who was suffering from post-traumatic shock), Simon has cast his fate to the wind.

"I came to terms with this two years ago, saying, `This is your career.' You don't always get to do what you want. I accept it. No one's going to offer me a role in a play, especially when you're 50, except for in my dreams."

Simon is the "sleeper" nominee in the hotly contested Outstanding Lead Actor category for a Daytime Emmy Award. ANOTHER WORLD's ponytailed scalawag Charles Keating is Soap Watch magazine's pick.

The telecast will be broadcast live from New York at 8 p.m. Wednesday on ABC. Susan Lucci (ALL MY CHILDREN) hosts with help from a stellar cast of soap stars.

- Viewers who want to see the juicier backstage stuff before the network Emmy telecast will get a two-hour preview of star arrivals live on cable's E! Entertainment channel beginning at 6 p.m. The station then follows the ceremonies with a half-hour of post-award highlights.

- Michael Tylo (Blade, "The Young and the Restless") has made it public that he and wife Hunter Tylo (formerly Taylor on "The Bold and the Beautiful")are divorcing.

- Viacom is shopping a late-night deal for its five-episode-a-week serial called "Ocean Drive." And NBC is asking affiliates to consider whether they want to add another hour to the "Today" show or put a new soap opera on the schedule.

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