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Preeminent Craftspeople Abound at Creative Arts Emmys – PART ONE

September 12, 2017 | By

At the first of two nights at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, craftspeople in all walks of broadcast and cable television, plus new media arts walked the red carpet and reveled in the honorary ceremony at the annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Surely, every possible facet of the process was awarded on September 9 and 10, 2017, including certain categories of performers, though the majority will have a separate September 17 ceremony.
Creative_Arts_Emmys_Red_Carpet

For night one of the Creative Arts, the red carpet included Rick and Sandra McElwee who boasted about their son Sean from Born this Way, a reality show featuring numerous young people with Down Syndrome. Sean’s mother Sandra noted, “Sean’s wanted to be on TV forever. We didn’t think he would get it because he was actually asking the girls who were casting him out on dates, but it turned out they liked that!” Of the overwhelming spectacle of the Emmys, Sean’s father Rick added that Sean “thinks this is normal, this is the way things should be—people should recognize me, I should be famous. Pretty much all the cast, they all take it really well.”

Kira Kelly, Cinematographer

Kira Kelly, Cinematographer

Shortly after the cast of Born this Way came down the carpet, awaiting a horde of photographers, cinematographer Kira Kelly joined the throng, noting her nomination for shooting the Ava DuVernay documentary 13 th. “As a director she knew exactly what she wanted,” Kelly said of DuVernay, “but also stepped back and said, ‘What do you think?’ I just really love setting up shots with her.” Kelly had just returned from a six-month shoot in New Orleans for the new show Queen Sugar for which she was an alternating DP with another cinematographer.

Producer Nigel Sinclair attended the Emmys on behalf of his documentary Eight Days a Week regarding the key 1964-66 touring years for The Beatles. “We did a call out to the public, and we got dozens of great pieces of footage that had never been seen before,” Sinclair explained of the Ron Howard project. “The last time the Beatles ever played live was never recorded because they were burned out and sick of it, but we found three fans and we got all their Super-8 film footage; we constructed the last moment of that show, and no one’s ever seen that before. Super 8 cameras did not have sound, but we put it together with a soundtrack.”

For playing Ginny on F is for Family , Mo Collins was nominated for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance. “I consider myself a mockingbird,” she said. “I hear things, I feel things, I see things…not mocking in a bad way, but a mimic and a mockingbird.”

On The Simpsons, Nancy Cartwright has been the voice of Bart for all of the show’s 29 years. “I went [to the audition] for the voice of Lisa, but the monologue for Bart was there,” she remembered. “Bart was the 10-year-old school-hating underachiever—and proud of it—and I wanted to do that. So I told Matt Groening—he was the only one I read for—and I said, ‘Do you mind?’, and he said, ‘No,’” After hearing Cartwright conjure Bart the very first time, Groening hired her right on the spot. Every key voice on the show is still intact almost three decades on.

Archer, was nominated Outstanding Animated Program for the second consecutive year . Amber Nash plays Pam on the series. “The show isn’t afraid to change itself,” she said. “We’re jumping genres now, so it’s keeping it fresh and our audience is still interested and impressed year after year.”

Hairspray: Live was represented by its makeup and hairstyling team. Makeup department head Melanie Hughes conveyed the difficulties in creating a live show that is only produced once. “Pressure — lots of pressure,” she stated of the on-set experience, noting that success for her department involves “critical timing, organizing and choosing the correct people.” Similarly, on Dancing with the Stars, the makeup/hair team noted that, “We work in collaboration with hair, makeup and costumes. It’s an entire team, from body to hair to makeup, nails, costumes, and when we’re doing quick changes, we have maybe three minutes to do an entirely new makeup. We’re fast, we have five people on one person, we’re dong hair, we’re airbrushing.”

Now in his 23 rd season as makeup department head of Saturday Night Live, Louie Zakarian spoke of his big challenges during the 2016-17 season. “Alec Baldwin as Trump, turning Melissa McCarthy into Sean Spicer, turning Kate McKinnon into Kellyanne Conway and Jeff Sessions,” he related. “It was just really a fun, challenging year, it was a good one.” Michael Matsumoto, the producer of Fixer Upper, spoke of his project’s methodologies. “We have a format for every show, but the build is different—it’s the renovation of a house,” he said. “They come in, look at the homes, they pick one, renovate it, reveal it; simple, but that’s what viewers expect every week.” Fixer Upper is the highest rated show in history on Home & Garden Television.

Winners from left to right; Travis Shakespeare (SVP of BBC Worldwide), Matt Mercer (Emmy winner for editing) , Tony Diaz(Emmy winner for editing) , Ian Richardson, (Emmy winner for editing) Eric Schrader (Emmy winner for editing) , and Joseph Litzinger (EP of Life Below Zero)

Winners from left to right; Travis Shakespeare (SVP of BBC Worldwide), Matt Mercer (Emmy winner for editing) , Tony Diaz(Emmy winner for
editing) , Ian Richardson, (Emmy winner for editing) Eric Schrader (Emmy winner for editing) , and Joseph Litzinger (EP of Life Below Zero)

Showrunner, Joe Litzinger, spoke of the difficulties of producing Life Below Zero, which won for editing in an ‘unstructured reality’ show and was nominated for cinematography. Litzinger explained how his show depicts “the everyday struggles of living in the secluded Alaska, where one wrong decision could cost you your life,” and how his crew had to shoot often without electricity and basic amenities.

Rachel Robb Kondrath, Production Designer

Rachel Robb Kondrath, Production Designer

Simply known as Zaldy, this artist created costumes for RuPaul’s Drag Race, a high profile reality show. In one case, he had only two days to create a costume for the 6’5” actor. Production designer Rachel Robb Kondrath creates sets for Drunk History. “We do about 30 stories in 30 days, so we really don’t have a lot of time to be sketching and drawing. You kind of have your first thought, your best thought, and go from there.”

In United Shades of America, comedian W. Kamau Bell statedon the winners’ stand that he does not shy away from controversial material. “No matter what show we do, it’s going to have repercussions,” he said, “so sometimes we get things wrong, or sometimes we do things that might not get the true version of that story. I’m much more worried about getting a story wrong or portraying it in a way that’s not accurate than the actual physical danger.”

Longtime New Yorker James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio came to Los Angeles for the events of September 9. “The guests who have been coming to me for 23 years are the ones who’ve made it the fifth-most nominated series in the history of prime time television.”

Travis Wall, Choreographer

Travis Wall, Choreographer

Outstanding Choreography winner Travis Wall, only 29, of the runaway hit show So You Think You Can Dance, explained the attraction of his show. “I think the key is getting across something to the viewers, whether it’s a story, a feeling, an emotion. I like to experience with the viewers, making them think during my piece; making them somehow relate it to their own life. I love tackling stories, and figuring out a way to get them across without words.”

Lastly, musical producer Ricky Minor graciously stopped to discuss his two nominations: for Staying Alive: A Grammy Tribute to the BeeGees and a production entitled Taking the Stage. However, his favorite televised project was producing the national anthem for the Superbowl for the late Whitney Houston in 1991. “We were in the middle of putting together her tour,” Minor said. “I had one day to go down and record the orchestra. She had just done a screen test for The Bodyguard. She came in, never having heard the arrangement, listened to it once, and said “Okay, I got it.” She goes in and she sings it, one time. She asks, ‘How was that?’ I say ‘Great! Why don’t you do it one more time now that you’re warmed up?’ She did it one more time, but I only used a little bit of it for the performance. She has the voice of an angel.”

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