EGOTs... And The Not-Forgotten
Celebration and fond remembrance mark the Creative Arts Awards.
It was a celebration worthy of, well, a cymbal-crashing marching band.
And that's exactly what Jane Lynch brought on stage September 9 at the Creative Arts Emmys, promising to let them play "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang if history was made by the five nominees poised to become EGOTs — Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award winners — during the show.
While Lynch ultimately nixed the idea, explaining that "all Emmys are created equal," that didn't stop a record-breaking three of the five — John Legend, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, all executive producers of NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert — from reaching the benchmark.
Though the musical won five Emmys during the September 8 and 9 ceremonies at L.A.'s Microsoft Theater, it was outpaced by two longtime Emmy favorites, HBO's Game of Thrones and NBC's Saturday Night Live, which tied for top honors with seven awards each. HBO was also the top-performing network, with 17 Creative Arts Awards, while Netflix scored 16. NBC won the most of any broadcast network, with 15.
As much as the dual ceremonies were about celebrating achievement, the event was also made poignant by the recent deaths of Craig Zadan, who won his first Emmy as an executive producer of Jesus Christ Superstar, and of Anthony Bourdain, whose food-focused travelogue, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, won five Emmys.
Accepting for Writing for a Nonfiction Program, producer Lydia Tenaglia said: "Tony was nominated for this Emmy many times, but it had eluded him. It was the one award he truly coveted. It is with incredible bittersweetness I accept it on his behalf."
The CNN series also won for sound editing, sound mixing and picture editing and was named Outstanding Informational Series.
United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell was named Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program for the second year in a row, and producer Geraldine Porras dedicated the win to Bourdain, "whose memory continues to inspire us every day."
Bell was featured in the last episode filmed for Parts Unknown, which followed the duo as they explored Kenya. Outstanding Structured Reality Program went to Netflix's Queer Eye.
Judd Apatow also recalled a beloved colleague as he accepted the Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special, for his HBO film The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.
Apatow quoted from the late Shandling's diaries: "He said, Maybe your comedy is a natural gift to be given to others with joy to help them through this impossible life, and [is meant to be shared] with no desire of getting anything."
The writers of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver were unable to accept their Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety Series, but sent a much lighter note to be read to the audience: "Currently we're being held captive in a windowless writers' room in Manhattan working on a 26-minute segment about the inequitable tax loopholes for the owners of New Jersey's cranberry bogs or something. But rest assured, we are drunk."
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story took four Emmys over the Creative Arts weekend, including those for hairstyling, non-prosthetic makeup, casting and contemporary costumes. "I'm sorry Ryan, but I'm always going to be surprised," said Eryn Krueger Mekash, addressing Versace executive producer Ryan Murphy as she accepted her award for makeup.
Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series went to Mathias Herndl for Genius: Picasso (the National Geographic program also won for sound editing). "It's true — this is the first time I've been to the Emmys," the German cinematographer said. "And so far I've really liked it."
In a salute to Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek, Bill Nye, host of Netflix's Bill Nye Saves the World, hailed the franchise for its quintessential expression of the Creative Arts, including prosthetics, stunts, costumes, hairstyling and other crafts.
After 100 crewmembers from all six series — Discovery, Voyager, Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, The Next Generation and the original — had gathered on stage, Star Trek star William Shatner and Star Trek: Discovery star Sonequa Martin-Green accepted the Governors Award on behalf of the franchise.
"Star Trek is a phenomenon," Shatner said. "It is also a universe."
An affection for Star Trek was also reflected in the three Emmys bestowed on the USS Callister episode of Black Mirror, which tweaked the Star Trek universe for its nightmarish trapped-in-a-computer-simulacrum episode.
When the three EGOTs — Rice, Legend and Webber — took the stage to accept the award for Outstanding Variety Special, Webber said, "It is wonderful that Jesus Christ Superstar should be presented by NBC in exactly the way Tim [Rice] and I hoped it would have been, now 48 years ago."
Rice gave props to fans of the show on this side of the pond.
"America bought this album in prodigious quantities back in 1970, and nobody in our home country [did].... It was because of that record doing so well in the United States that the show conquered the world. I'm amazed it's still around 48 years later. I'm amazed I'm still around 48 years later."
On an awards show celebrating 70 remarkable years, that wait didn't seem long at all.
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 10, 2018
A list of winners and additional coverage of the 70th Emmys, including a replay of Backstage LIVE!, can be found here.