“Boardwalk Empire” has a head of steam going into Sunday’s Primetime Emmy derby after cleaning up at the Creative Arts Awards ceremony.

HBO’s frosh period drama bagged seven wins, leading all programs at the kudos presentation held Saturday at the Nokia Theater. “Boardwalk” and three wins by HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce” put the pay cabler comfortably in the lead among networks with a total of 15 trophies.

Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” and History’s “Gettysburg”

ran second to “Boardwalk” with four wins apiece.

Comedy Central’s “Futurama” drew the nod for animation program. The kidvid kudo went to HBO’s “A Child’s Garden of Poetry.”

Paul McCrane pulled off an upset in the heat for guest actor in a drama series — edging out vets including Bruce Dern (“Big Love”), Michael J. Fox (“The Good Wife”) and Beau Bridges (“Brothers and Sisters”) — for his role on David E. Kelley’s latest drama, NBC’s “Harry’s Law.”

Backstage, McCrane, who’s also a helmer for “Harry’s Law” and other skeins, told reporters that the real victory is to be able to make a living in showbiz. “Anything else is gravy — and this makes for some awfully nice gravy,” he said, pointing to his statuette.

Gwyneth Paltrow picked up her first Emmy, for guest actress in a comedy for her turn on “Glee.” Justin Timberlake won guest comedy actor for his hosting stint on “Saturday Night Live.” He also shared in the win for original music and lyrics for the “Justin Timberlake” tune penned for his monologue along with “SNL’s” Seth Meyers, John Mulaney and Katreese Barnes.

Loretta Devine won guest drama actress for her work on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“Survivor” host Jeff Probst made it four for four in the reality host category.

“Boardwalk’s” momentum was established right out of the gate when it won the first award of the night, for drama series casting. Its other wins included drama series cinematography, editing, art direction, visual effects, sound editing and non-prosthetic makeup.

“Boardwalk” made its Emmy debut this year with a total of 18 noms and is a contender on Sunday for other top honors including drama series.

“Mildred Pierce” pulled in the most noms of any program this year with 21; its wins on Saturday came for longform art direction, casting and music composition (for composer Carter Burwell).

“Mad Men,” which has a total of 19 noms, took home one trophy on Saturday, for hairstyling for a single-cam series.

“Deadliest Catch” won every category in which it was nommed, including reality program and reality cinematography. In each trip to the stage, members of “Catch’s” winning teams paid tribute to Capt. Phil Harris, the crab fisherman featured on the show until his death in February 2010.

Multicam cinematography kudos went to CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” and to PBS’ “Downton Abbey” in the longform category.

CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” won for editing for a multicam half-hour. Cutter Sue Federman explained the secret of her success: “I’ve edited 136 episodes of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and I’m still not tired of it.”

Costume awards went to Showtime’s “The Borgias” for series and to “Downton Abbey” for longform.

There wasn’t much suspense in the choreography race, as Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” claimed five of the six noms in the category. The show wound up tying itself, with wins for Mia Michaels and the duo of Tabitha D’Umo and Napoleon D’Umo.

Tabitha D’Umo noted that the Emmy victory was particularly sweet as it came on her birthday. “And I don’t have to get her a gift,” added Napoleon.

Josh Fox, whose HBO docu “Gasland” was an Oscar docu contender this year, prevailed for directing in nonfiction programming.

John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted” was saluted with this year’s Governors Award for his tireless efforts to use television to help police nab dangerous criminals. Speaking to reporters backstage, Walsh noted that he had numerous offers for new TV gigs after Fox decided to end “AMW’s” run as a regular series earlier this year (it has since been picked up by Lifetime). But Walsh had no interest in being a talking head.

“This is the only thing I know how to do on television,” Walsh said. “All I want to do is catch bad guys and help missing children.”

Among networks, PBS ran second to HBO among networks with 10 wins, followed by Fox (nine), CBS (seven), NBC (five) and Discovery Channel and History (four).

Emmy kudos in 25 other categories will be handed out Sunday night in a ceremony telecast live on Fox. Highlights from the Creative Arts ceremony will air Saturday, Sept. 17, on cabler ReelzChannel.

Complete List of Winners

Read our Live Blog from the Ceremony