Creative Arts Emmys Shine Brightly, Too

Some of the biggest and most Emmy-nominated cable series drew blanks during the Primetime Emmy Awards ceremonies — but they took home gold statuettes at the Creative Arts Emmys on Aug. 16.

The Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards celebrate excellence in categories that focus more on key technical disciplines and behind-the-scenes crafts essential to television production, as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences puts it.

The Creative Arts Emmy Awards have their own cachet (and their own taped award-ceremony telecast, which was shown on Sunday, Aug. 24, on FXX), and they are important acknowledgements for networks and show brands, executives said. Some of the creative categories get airtime during the Primetime Emmys telecast.

Netflix, the darling of last year’s Primetime Emmy Awards with the first win for a streaming- only series, outstanding direction in a drama series for House of Cards, failed to win any awards during this year’s primetime ceremonies, despite 31 overall nominations and 10 primetime nods.

The streaming service won three Creative Arts Emmys, though, all for sophomore comedy series Orange Is the New Black.

HBO’s Game of Thrones, which drew 14 Emmy nominations, did not win in any of the five Primetime Emmy categories. But the popular fantasy-themed drama series picked up four Creative Arts Emmys.

HBO’s True Detective, which was up for five Primetime Emmys — including best drama series, as well as lead actor nods for Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey — won one, an Outstanding Directing award. At the Creative Arts Emmys, it won four statuettes.

Michael Lombardo, president of programming for HBO, said all Emmys wins are important. And while HBO would like to win its share of primetime Emmy Awards, the Creative Arts Emmy Awards are sources of pride, too.

“While everyone in the business would love to have their category presented on the primetime telecast, there just isn’t enough time to do so in three hours, where the focus is on the stars viewers want to see,” Lombardo said. “Every Emmy is important to us, be it primetime or creative. In fact, so is every Emmy nomination.”

For shows like Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch and Starz’s Black Sails, which didn’t receive primetime Emmy Award nominations, the Creative Arts Emmys provide a chance at to be recognized by the industry. Deadliest Catch won three Creative Arts Emmys, and pirate drama Black Sails took home two statuettes.

For a startup network like Pivot, a Creative Arts Emmy such as the one the network won in the social- TV experience category for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s series HitRECord on TV is a much-coveted honor.

“The Emmy is really a testament to Joseph Gordon- Levitt’s vision to create a different kind of variety show that crowd sources creativity from the audience,” Pivot president Evan Shapiro said. “For a network that’s a year old, it’s a great win.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.