On Saturday, members of the Television Academy Stunts Peer Group gathered at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre to honor their Emmy-nominated members.
The group had a lot to celebrate. In the already crowded Emmy field, a historic new category had been approved by the Academy’s board of governors – stunt coordination for a comedy or variety program. To promote the addition of a new award, Stunts Peer Group governors Anthony Molinari and Dorenda Moore coordinated a letter writing campaign and showed a comedy stunts video that visually made their argument. Emmy Award-winning stunt coordinator Jim Vickers, nominated this year for Workaholics, best explained the differences between the pratfall, bouncing-off-the-walls comedic and the car-crash, explosion heavy dramatic categories by saying, “Comedy and drama are different in terms of the reaction we want to illicit.”
Second unit director, Conrad “Connie” Palmisano, who regularly collaborates with stunt coordinators, commented on their talents, “They have to be very knowledgeable of the craft to get nominated.” He noted that television demands much more. Not only do they have to contend with tight schedules, stunt coordinators have to come up with new material every six days. They have to be both creative and dedicated.
According to Jeff Wolfe, coordinating stunts for the action-heavy Revolution is like filming a mini-movie every nine days. In the last 20 episodes he has employed 400 stunt performers. His background in martial arts, along with choreographing sword fights for the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, prepared him for all the sword-fights in the post-apocalyptic world of his current series.
For the factually based police drama, Southland, stunts are not done for the sake of stunts. Peewee Piedmonte, who has won the stunt coordination drama category for the past two years, says his biggest challenge is to make it real. None of the action can be over-the-top. Getting the right doubles for the job, so they match up is the biggest challenge for NCIS stunt coordinator, Diamond Farnsworth, son of stuntman turned actor Richard Farnsworth.
Character actor John Dickson hosted the evening’s certificate presentation. He quipped, “The closest I come to a stunt is trying to make a left turn on Hollywood Boulevard.” A video montage honored members of the community that had passed away during the previous year. Stunt coordination nominees in attendance were Farnsworth, Hiro Koda (Supah Ninjas), Piedmont, Jim Sharp (Modern Family, Vickers and Wolfe. Cort L. Hessler III (Blue Bloods) and Marc Scizak (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) were not present.
The 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be held Sept. 15. It will air Sept. 21 on the new FXX Network.