Magazine article Variety

Creative Emmys Bow New Format

Magazine article Variety

Creative Emmys Bow New Format

Article excerpt

AFTER FOUR AND HALF HOURS of Creative Arts Emmy Awards action - a two-night affair dubbed "the junior prom" by presenter Jane Lynch - what have we learned?

* Emmy voters really, really love "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story."

* They're hopelessly devoted to "Grease Live."

* "The Late Late Show With James Corden" is the late-night phenom to watch.

* "Making a Murderer" got under the skin of TV Academy voters.

* "Game of Thrones" is prepared to scorch everything in its path in a valiant quest for back-to-back Emmy domination.

The final tally for the 80-plus awards presented during the Sept. 10-11 Creative Arts ceremonies, as always, is a good bellwether of the victories to come at the main event - the Primetime Emmys on Sept. 18.

But this year, the TV Academy can count itself among the big winners, as industryites seemed to have universal praise for the decision to spread out the Creative Arts presentation over two nights at the MicrosoftTheater in Downtown L.A.

"I give it a big thumbs-up," said Ryan Murphy, the uber-producer who attended both nights to support craftand technical nominees for his FX productions "The People v. O.J. Simpson" and "American Horror Story: Hotel." "It doesn't feel like the five-hour slog. I went to the bar once and there was no one there - which is always a good sign."

In past years, the Creative Arts ceremony was often referred to in less-than-flattering terms ("death march" being a popular one) because of the mind-numbing number of awards handed out. This year the Academy broke with tradition in an effort to produce a better show all around. Each ceremony ran about two hours and 15 minutes and served up 41 awards presentations, plus a few extras, such as an "In Memoriam" segment and the Governors Award presentation to "American Idol" on Sept. 11.

Chris Hardwick, a winner for Comedy Central's "@Midnight with Chris Hardwick," noted when he came backstage at the end of the Sept. 10 ceremony that under the old format "we'd only be at the halfway point by now." (That observation produced a shudder among the assembled reporters.)

Creative Arts attendees used to desert the auditorium after their rooting interest had passed, which meant that many winners gave their thank-yous to a half-empty house.

By the end of the show, a lot of people had left, or they're outside because their legs are falling asleep," Hardwick said.

Rob Corddry, a winner for Adult Swim's "Childrens Hospital," added, "I think we should have three or four Emmys next year."

Creative Arts nominees already battle an inferiority complex because their disciplines are not included in the live Primetime Emmy awards. The fact that the Creative Arts ceremony in the past had to rush through so many presentations added insult to injury. The new format allowed more time to highlight the nominees and let winners breathe - and gush - onstage.

"There's a lot of emotion and anxiety in that room," said composer Sean Callery, who picked up a trophy Sept. 10 for main title theme music for Netflix's "Marvel's Jessica Jones." "Every award is valid and important, and this gives people a little more time in the moment."

TV Academy officials took pains to split up the categories according to disciplines and along the narrative/unscripted divide in order to limit the number of nominees who needed to attend both nights. The result was that far more people - nominees along with their cheering sections - were able to come, according to TV Academy president and chief operating officer Maury McIntyre.

Given the strong positive feedback, the bifurcated approach seems likely to stick; but McIntyre said a final decision will be made after surveys of TV Academy members. …

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