2012 Creative Arts Emmys: Analysis

For a second consecutive year, it was not the most nominated program to lead the field at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards – but it was an HBO drama series. Last year, it was Boardwalk Empire, No. 3 on Emmy nominations day, that bagged the most statuettes at the Creative Emmys, 7. This year, it is the network’s fantasy drama Game Of Thrones, which delivered a surprisingly dominating performance. 13th in overall Emmy nominations with 12, Game Of Thrones, won award after award for a total of six, the most of any program at the Creative Emmys. It upset frontrunners American Horror Story (17 noms), Mad Men (17), Downton Abbey (16), Hatfields & McCoys (16) and Hemingway & Gellhorn (15). Of them, only two programs landed multiple wins, Hatfields & McCoys (3) and  Downton Abbey (2).

Last year, Boardwalk Empire‘s lead after the Creative Emmys proved insurmountable, and the series remained atop the list with most Emmys after the Primetime Emmys where it added another award. This year, Game Of Thrones, which has two shots at Emmy gold next Sunday (best drama series and best supporting actor for last year’s winner Peter Dinklage) also has a chance of retaining the title as the winningest program of the year unless Hatfields & McCoys dominates the longform categories at the Primetime Emmys. Game Of Thrones converted six of the nine technical categories it was up for today for a great 66% win ratio. But PBS’ Masterpiece presentation Great Expectations did even better. Flying under the radar with five Emmy nominations, all in technical categories, the miniseries turned four of them (80%) into wins to finish second only behind Game Of Thrones, tied with Discovery’s Frozen Planet, which won Best Nonfiction Series, and NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Other noteworthy wins tonight:

Charlie Harper finally got an Emmy. After Charlie Sheen failed to convert any of his four lead actor in a comedy series Emmy nominations for playing the bowling shirt-loving bachelor, Oscar winner Kathy Bates won a long-overdue Emmy award for playing the character in a Two And A Half Men guest stint. This was the first time an actress has won the category for playing a man. (Coincidentally, two of the six nominations were for transgender performances — Margaret Cho was in the running for her portrayal of Kim Jong-il on 30 Rock.) While this may have not been Bates’ most acclaimed TV performance, it was the her first Emmy award in 10 nominations. She has a chance of doubling her Emmy haul next Sunday as she is also nominated in the lead actress in a drama series category for NBC’s Harry’s Law.

After getting upset last year by Paul McCrane, who won for Harry’s Law, Justified standout Jeremy Davies won the guest star in a drama series category, in which he had been considered a frontrunner alongside TV Academy darling Michael J. Fox for The Good Wife. While Fox may have been snubbed for a second year, fellow Good Wife recurring player Martha Plimpton won for best guest star in a drama series. That should make up for Plimpton being left out of the Best Actress In A Comedy series race this year after landing a nomination in 2011 for her role on Fox’s Raising Hope.

Undercover Boss won its first Emmy for best reality series in its third nomination. This is the first Emmy in the category for CBS, which has completely dominated the reality competition series category with The Amazing Race. Interestingly, The Deadliest Catch, which won the reality series category last year but was not nominated this year, won the most awards among its peers, 2. Meanwhile, PBS veteran Antiques Roadshow is becoming the Bill Mahr of the field, extending its streak to 10 nominations in the top reality series category and no wins.

The Wizards Of Waverly Place‘s great Emmy run continued with a third Best Children’s Program win. It has won twice for the series (2009, 2012) and once for the its TV movie offshoot (2010). How big is the Emmy-winning streak of the Selena Gomez-starring Disney Channel comedy? It is the only scripted series to win the award in the past two decades, since Disney Channel’s Avonlea did it in 1993.

Hosting Saturday Night Live has become a bankable way of winning guest starring comedy Emmys, especially for former cast members or semi-regulars. Ex-SNL star Jimmy Fallon won today for his hosting duties on the show, marking the third time in four years that the award went to an SNL host (Justin Timberlake won in 2009 and 2011.) On the distaff side, Tina Fay and Betty White won the category for their turns in 2009 and 2010. Fallon has another, albeit longer, shot at an Emmy next week as his NBC late-night talk show is nominated for variety series.

The Daily Show broke the four-year pattern of alternating with companion The Colbert Report in the Best Writing for a Variety Series category by winning for a second time in a row. The Daily Show‘s Emmy dominance is staggering. It has won the writing variety series category eight times in the past 12 years, and its grip on the Best Variety Series is even stronger —  the Comedy Central program is going for a 10th consecutive win next Sunday.

NBC’s musical dramedy Smash won its first Emmy award for best choreography. It was the first time in 15 years that a network scripted series won the category, since NBC’s 3rd Rock From The Sun in 1997. (Short-lived syndicated drama Fame L.A. won the following year, with TV movies, specials and reality series taking home the gold ever since.)

In another first, The Penguins Of Madagascar became the first Nickelodeon series to win the best animated program Emmy. This is only the second time a series on a kids cable network has landed the prize, along with Cartoon Network, which got the statuette in 2004 for Samurai Jack.

Martin Scorsese is on a streak. After winning his first Emmy last year for directing the pilot for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the Oscar winner won another directing Emmy today, in nonfiction programming, for his HBO documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World.

Encouraging news for new HBO comedy Girls, which won best casting for a comedy series. In three of the last four years, the winner in the category has gone on to win a best comedy series Emmy. Things are murkier on the drama side, while Showtime’s hot newcomer Homeland got the casting prize, as only once the winner in that category has also won best drama series. The casting categories tend to faster recognize new series, awarding a show twice at the most, while the best series fields have a tendency of sticking with favorites, thus the current streaks for Mad Men and Modern Family.

  1. Game of Thrones deserves every one of those awards. What an amazingly well crafted program. Fingers crossed for Peter Dinklage to repeat next week!

  2. The live Creative Arts Emmys was too long. Without a real host it dragged. Time was wasted with presenters reading a horrible script and then winners having no time to reach the stage and speak. The winners are what made it interesting. As a result the show was over 4 hours.

    The year Kathy Griffith hosted she had her people punch up the script and she kept the whole event moving. It was fun.

    Bring back Kathy.

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