ANALYSIS: Newcomer 'Boardwalk Empire', Comeback Kid 'Futurama', Justin Timberlake & Jeff Probst Rule The Creative Emmys

2011 Creative Emmys Winners, 2011 Creative Emmys By The Numbers
The top of the standings at the Creative Emmy Awards tonight looked familiar: HBO leading the network pack with most wins, 15, and an HBO program scoring the most wins. But there was a mild surprise on the show rankings side. The rule of thumb is that the program that scores the most Emmy nominations — almost always a longform project — usually bags the most trophies at the Creative Emmys. (Last year, it was HBO’s mega-mini The Pacific.) This year, another HBO mini, Mildred Pierce, landed the most Emmy noms, 21, but did not leave with the most trophies tonight. That honor went to HBO’s new drama series Boardwalk Empire, which, with its elaborate sets and period setting, dominated the field with 7 Emmys. Meanwhile, Mildred Pierce landed 3 Emmys, as much as The Kennedys and just one more than Downton Abbey. (All three are nominated for best TV movie or miniseries.) This could be a sign that the race in the top longform category, already made more competitive by merging TV movies and minis this year, may get even tighter.

Boardwalk Empire was not the only rookie to make a solid entrance into the Emmy circle. Fledgeling cable channel ReelzChannel, which this year is taking over from E! as the broadcaster of the Creative Emmys, landed its first 3 Emmy Awards tonight for its first original program, acquired mini The Kennedys.

Tonight’s ceremony was also highlighted by the big comeback of Futurama. Nine years and one cancellation after it won its first Emmy for best animated program, Futurama did it again for its first season on Comedy Central, the cable network that resurrected Matt Groening’s comedy 7 years after Fox axed it. What’s more, Futurama also won the other major award for an animated series, best voice-over performance (Maurice Lamarche).

Justin Timberlake is becoming the king of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. He has now won an Emmy for every stint as a Saturday Night Live host — all at the Creative Emmys. He landed the best original music and lyrics award in 2007 for the viral hit Dick In a Box as well as a best guest actor in a comedy series trophy for his second hosting stint in 2009. And this year, he got one of each — best guest actor in a comedy series and best original music and lyrics (for the opening monologue song from his most recent SNL hosting gig in May). Timberlake won both categories he was nominated in, bringing his Emmy tally to 4. Unfortunately, he wasn’t on hand to accept his 2 new Emmy trophies as he was courtside at the U.S. Open in New York, watching the Rafael Nadal-Andy Murray semi-final. CBS’ live broadcast showed him in the audience just as his first category, for best music and lyrics, was being awarded.

On the distaff side, Gwyneth Paltrow became the third Academy Award winner to be named best guest actress in a comedy series. Paltrow, who won for her role on Fox’s Glee, joins previous winners Emma Thompson and Cloris Leachman who also have Oscars to go with their guest-starring Emmys. Coincidentally, one of actresses Paltrow beat in the category was Leachman, nominated for her recurring role on Fox’s Raising Hope. It was very strong field that also featured Kristin Chenoweth and Dot-Marie Jones for Glee, Tina Fey for hosting SNL and Elizabeth Banks for 30 Rock.

While Timberlake’s and Paltrow’s wins were largely expected, there were surprises on the drama side. David E. Kelley proved once again that his shows are guest-starring Emmy magnets. Paul McCrane pulled an upset in the guest actor in a drama series category for his spot on Kelley’s latest show, Harry’s Law. He prevailed over TV Academy darling Michael J. Fox for The Good Wife and Justified standout Jeremy Davies with an old-school showy role that included him giving a long speech and strip down to his underwear — stuff that Academy members usually eat up. In the guest drama actress category, veteran Loretta Devine of Grey’s Anatomy upset frontrunner Julia Stiles (Dexter).

While Top Chef last year snapped The Amazing Race‘s 7-year streak of winning every Emmy for best reality-competition series since the category was established in 2003, the host of another CBS veteran series tonight extended his. Survivor‘s Jeff Probst won his fourth consecutive Emmy for best reality host and continues to be the category’s only winner since it was introduced in 2008.

After 5 consecutive nominations in the best nonfiction program category, Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch switched to best reality program this year and won. No surprise here as the docu series was nominated for its hugely rated and critically praised final episodes featuring Capt. Phil Harris. In addition to best reality series, Deadliest Catch landed 3 other Emmys, all for Harris’ farewell episode. Deadliest Catch ranked second behind Boardwalk Episode for most wins tonight, tied with the Ridley and Tony Scott-produced History special Gettysburg.

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