HBO reigned supreme at the 58th annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The premium cable channel received a total of 17 statuettes at the August 20 ceremony, which highlighted the contributions of the unseen crew behind some of television’s most popular programs.“The people in this room are the ones who basically make television go,” declared Dick Askin, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. “Creative Arts is the backbone of the television industry.”The biggest winner at the nearly four-hour event held at the Shrine Auditorium near downtown Los Angeles was Elizabeth I. The two-part HBO film provided a fresh take on the often-told story of England’s Virgin Queen, and garnered five Emmys including honors for production design and costumes.“We had to rebuild a huge set of Tudor England and several castles in the middle of Lithuania, which was quite an experience,” art director Leon McCarthy told Below the Line backstage.Close behind with four awards was Rome. HBO’s lavish not-built-in-a-day mini-series about the ancient city on the Tiber, largely recreated in modern-day Rome on virtually the entire backlot of the city’s famed Cinecitta studios, received Emmys for art direction, cinematography, costumes and hair styling. “We decided to go for something more colorful than what you’re used to seeing in films of that period,” said costume designer April Ferry. She employed an army of assistants, including a small squad whose main job was to properly fold togas for each day’s shoot.Another four awards went to Baghdad ER, an HBO movie about an emergency hospital dealing with the seriously wounded soldiers in today’s Iraq war. One was for best sound editing, a category that also produced a winner for another intense topical movie, Flight 93, about the airplane skyjacked by terrorists on 9/11 that passengers brought down in a field in Pennsylvania. “We wanted to make it as authentic and realistic as possible, and not let it sound like just another Hollywood movie,” said Flight 93 sound supervisor Harry Snodgrass.The enormous editing crew for The Amazing Race repeated with another Emmy, while the show’s peripatetic cinematographers who work out of their camera bags for weeks at a time as they follow the contestants around the world, won their first such award for their category. “We’re probably the hardest-working camera crew on any television reality show,” beamed Per Larsson, the show’s director of photography. An average of 400 hours of footage is shot for each episode, and the editing crew has to whittle that down to a tight 44 minutes that actually airs.
Written by Jack Egan