The Daytime Emmys — which will be handed out Friday night — are shaping up as a farewell party for departing talk show host Rosie O'Donnell.
O'Donnell, whose show is ending next week after six seasons, has emerged as a 6 to 5 Las Vegas favorite to win the Emmy for Best Talk Show Host. A victory would be send O'Donnell off at the top of her career.
"I think Rosie's a lock," says Mark McGarry, news editor of Soap Opera Weekly and one of a panel of experts who have picked likely Emmy winners for the Web site GoldDerby.com.
McGarry and his fellow panelists were allowed to see the two tapes each nominee submitted for Emmy consideration for the first time in the history of the Daytime Emmys.
"I think the big story here is that never before have public eyes been allowed to see what Emmy voters see — this was a breakthrough for the TV academy," says Tom O'Neil, one of the judges and the author of The Emmys, a history of the awards ceremony.
"As far as Rosie, she's won Best Talk Show host five of the last five years and has dominated Best Talk Show four of the last five years," says O'Neil.
O'Neil also says that O'Donnell is the recipient of good timing — since her show launched just as perennial winner Oprah Winfrey dropped, asking her staff to no longer fill out the paperwork to have her considered for a Daytime Emmy.
"Rosie has proven that she's an Emmy magnet. And she had the good fortune of arriving in the [daytime] Emmy arena just when Oprah stepped out," O'Neil says.
GoldDerby.com arrived at its odds by having each of the seven panelists watch tapes in different categories.
The panelists' predictions were then given to syndicated odds columnists Benjamin Lee Eckstein and Roxy Roxborough — who calculated odds based on the panelists' opinions.
Among the other odds-on favorites to win, according to GoldDerby.com, are Martha Byrne of As the World Turns (6-5) for Best Actress; Bob Barker (The Price Is Right) as Best Game Show Host (even odds); and Peter Bergman of The Young and the Restless (7-5) as Best Actor.
The Rosie O'Donnell Show is a 1-9 favorite to win as Best Talk Show.
The Daytime Emmys air Friday night.