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Emmys: The Shows With the Most Nominations in Creative Arts Categories

When it comes to Emmy nominations for below-the-line talent, traditional broadcaster NBC more than held its own in the major Creative Arts categories, tying HBO and besting juggernaut Netflix. The Peacock network broadcast three of the 13 shows that amassed seven or more noms in such areas as cinematography, production design and editing. HBO also had three shows in that arena; FX and Netflix each scored two, while Amazon, Hulu and Showtime each had one. Here’s an appraisal of those strongly crafted programs by some of the artisans who helped create them.


Atlanta / FX (seven noms)
The challenges facing editor Kyle Reiter on “Atlanta” were not the usual ones, “where you’re fixing problems and searching for the best takes,” he says. All the performances are so good that “there are an infinite number of ways of dealing with it, and it’s simply daunting.” It helped, he adds, that the show is tightly shot and he doesn’t receive “a ton of footage, as they know exactly what they’re doing in terms of performance and camera, so it’s manageable. It’s very rare that they’ll do more than a half-dozen takes.” The show shoots in Atlanta and Reiter does his assembly in L.A., working closely with creator-star Donald Glover and director Hiro Murai. “Atlanta” has evolved from season one. Reiter describes that as “a litmus test of ‘What can we get away with? What’s the tone?’ Now we’re far more confident and just go for it.”
— Iain Blair

CREDIT: Courtesy of FX

Popular on Variety

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story / FX (nine noms)
The 1997 murder of the fashion icon was the culmination of Andrew Cunanan’s cross-country spree. But Ryan Murphy’s retelling flips the script, say the members of the re-recording mixer team, Doug Andham and Joe Earle, nominated for the opening episode. “It starts with this eight-minute operatic build-up to the murder, and then it works backwards,” Andham says. “And for most of that opening sequence, music is the driving force, with sound effects being used more for texture.” Once the murder happens, the team’s soundscape takes center stage. “There’s the violence of the gunshot, the sound of keys in the gate and we fade to black,” he adds. The show then begins its coast-to-coast road trip, “so every week we had to create a whole new soundtrack, and it was like starting a new show,” Earle says.
— Iain Blair

CREDIT: Courtesy of HBO

Barry / HBO (seven noms)
The show’s razor-sharp dark comedy delighted voters as well as audiences, with nods toward everything from production design to its complicated mix of editing (two nominations) and sound (one for editing, one for mixing). Around 10 sets were constructed, plus an airstrip built on a plateau north of Los Angeles, writes art director Jeff Schoonover in an email. “We just wanted our sets to feel real.” With the show shot, editor Jeff Buchanan says in an email that it was critical to strike the multi-genre balance in the cutting room. “To me, the show is as much a drama as it is a comedy.” In addition, music cues were critical: “Kyle and I worked a lot with the composer of the show, David Wingo … and we would all collaborate on how the music could help shape some of the scenes.”
— Randee Dawn

Game of Thrones
CREDIT: Courtesy of HBO

Game of Thrones / HBO (14 noms)
Swinging into its penultimate season, “GOT” got even darker as it began tying together loose threads in its plotlines, expanding familiar locations and girding key characters in serious battle gear of grays, blacks, fur and chains. “Once Dany started to gain confidence we saw her explore and adapt … initially in a chameleon way,” says costume designer Michele Clapton, who earned one of 14 below-the-line noms for the series. “Finally, we see her returning to the silhouette of her family costume.” Deborah Riley, whose production design also earned a nom, added depth to such familiar sets as Dragonstone with a “brutalist cathedral” audience room to play on the Mother of Dragons’ growing power. “It is very important to me that the sets follow the rules of the psychology of space in order to help an audience understand how a character might be feeling,” says Riley.
— Randee Dawn

CREDIT: Erica Parise/Netflix

GLOW / Netflix (seven noms)
With the show’s plentiful spandex, big hair, sparkles and raucous wrestling scenes, it would be tempting to go over the top visually, but for DP Christian Sprenger the goal from day one was to create a world of the 1980s “that felt real and wasn’t calling too much attention to itself, that visually felt grounded and understated. We wanted those moments where we heightened the aesthetic to be purposeful.” That meant using natural light and “building our lighting sources into our set design as much as possible,” adds Sprenger, who filmed on the Red Weapon camera and worked very closely with the art department every step of the way to ensure their plans lined up. “This also meant digging back into the 1980s for vintage video cameras and the occasional star filter. We chose to film in anamorphic to frame in a wider field of view but also to capture some of the audience’s nostalgia of ’80s cinema.”
— Iain Blair

The Handmaids TAle

The Handmaid’s Tale / Hulu (nine noms)
Last year, “The Handmaid’s Tale” costume designer Ane Crabtree created what would become a pop-culture symbol with the red handmaid’s gown and white bonnet, something she says she designed as a modern look over a period piece “so that you feel as though you’re watching a documentary or the news, and bizarrely that’s what happened, that it started to transcend our story and become a part of the news.” For the second season, Crabtree, scoring her second nomination for fantasy/sci-fi costumes, faced the challenge of designing looks for an expanded world, most notably the Colonies, the wasteland where those violating Gilead’s rules are sent. Admitting she was terrified to design for the grim territory, Crabtree took inspiration from music and paintings with the idea to “not make it so desperate that they’re dead. You have to have life inside of the actors, the women, who are undergoing these traumas to survive.”
— Kirsten Chuba

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR LIVE IN CONCERT -- Pictured: John Legend as Jesus -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
CREDIT: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert / NBC (eight noms)
Bringing together the all-star lineup of John Legend, Sara Bareilles and Alice Cooper for “Jesus Christ Superstar” was a surprisingly easy task, casting director Bernie Telsey says. “All of the people we went after first said yes, which was really exciting.” Telsey, who earned his second nomination this year, says Cooper was the first one on board, approaching NBC when he heard about the show, as “Alice had a real affinity for this show and knew it probably more than even John and Sara.” For dressing the stars and ensemble, costume designer Paul Tazewell, also nominated for the show, went for a more contemporary look to “allow the audience to identify with the people they were seeing.” He says color was another big decision, as “we didn’t want to have a Jesus that was in full-on white and what we would expect, we were interested in going after new ideas.”
— Kirsten Chuba

CREDIT: Nicole Rivelli

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel / Amazon (seven noms)
For production designer Bill Groom, “the most important thing in approaching this was to stay true to the period of 1958 New York City.” To that end, Groom relied partly on his own memories of living there, and worked very closely with the show’s wardrobe department and DP to establish “exactly the right color palette for the era. We did a lot of research, and studied lots of photographs and things like old wallpaper catalogs and magazines, to make sure we had the right look.” Groom reports that the team worked so well together “that we didn’t even talk that much. We all have a common vision of what the show should look like.” The group is about half-way through shooting sophomore season, which is set a year later and once again revolves around aspiring standup ‘Midge’ Maisel. “The focus is totally on character and storytelling,” Groom says.
— Iain Blair

Saturday Night Live
CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

Saturday Night Live / NBC (eight noms)
Hair designer Jodi Mancuso doesn’t have the luxury of time when it comes to getting hosts and cast members ready for the show. “We don’t get camera tests like most people, so my only way of seeing it is literally on the screen, so up until 10 minutes before the live show I’m doing stuff,” she says. “During the Weekend Update segment I’m still fixing and running wigs.” The show’s consistent coverage of the White House has added another layer to the job for Mancuso, who is nominated for her 11th Emmy this year and designed the Donald Trump wig that Alec Baldwin wears for his famed impersonation. Of creating looks for various political figures, sometimes hours before the show when a new story breaks, she says, “It’s a little nerve-racking sometimes because there’s so much riding on it. There’s a fine line between making them look exact and not.”
— Kirsten Chuba

Stranger Things
CREDIT: Courtesy Netflix

Stranger Things / Netflix (seven noms)
The huge success of the atmospheric drama owes at least as much to the emotional pull of its nerdy misfits as to its increasingly polished storytelling, visual effects and scary sci-fi elements. “Season one was all about establishing the characters and this world, and season two is about protecting the magic — and then amping up the story,” says editor Kevin D. Ross. “All the visual effects wouldn’t mean anything without the characters and your emotional connection to them.” Ross works closely with creators-showrunners the Duffer brothers, “cutting while they shoot, and making sure we’re getting what we need for each character.” Music cues are also crucial, “so even if they’re temps they want it to be just right before it’s handed off to the composers.” Nominated for the season two finale, “Chapter Nine: The Gate,” Ross had to deal with “a very visual effect-heavy episode with a ton of bluescreen, so I collaborated with the vfx team and their storyboards.”
— Iain Blair

Kyle MacLachlan Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks / Showtime (seven noms)
Creating a look for a series that last aired over 25 years ago under the eye of a visionary auteur like David Lynch didn’t necessarily give artisans a lot of flexibility for their own choices, but there’s no question that the look of the rebooted series is the result of pure Lynchian fortitude. “He was very, very hands-on, and had very deliberate opinions,” says production designer Ruth De Jong, whose approximately 160 sets and 200 locations for the 18 episodes that shot over 1½ years included rebuilding sets based on concepts from over two decades ago. Lynch’s off-kilter, small Washington state town was startling in the 1990s and also had to work in the new millennium, but De Jong says much of what she needed to do was already on the page. “David has a specific aesthetic, and it was about owning that aesthetic and going along with him, together,” she says.
— Randee Dawn

THE VOICE -- "Live Finale" Episode 1219A -- Pictured: Aliyah Moulden -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)
CREDIT: Tyler Golden/NBC

The Voice / NBC (eight noms)
When it comes to finding contestants for “The Voice,” which aired its 14th season in spring, there is really just one thing casting director Michelle McNulty is looking for: a great voice. Taking cues from the celebrity coaches — who don’t get to see the singers when they audition on air — McNulty, nominated for casting for a reality program, says she “plays the blind audition game, in the sense that we’re putting our heads down and really listening to the voice. People sometimes think it’s having this crazy Christina Aguilera-type voice, we also are listening to the tones and textures and all of those amazing things that come with singers because that’s what the coaches are ultimately listening for as well.” Using nationwide casting calls and social-media outreach, McNulty adds she and her team are “always trying to one-up ourselves and previous seasons and find the best talent out there.”
— Kirsten Chuba

CREDIT: Courtesy of HBO

Westworld / HBO (14 noms)
Though “Westworld” has its roots in America’s Wild West, in season two its “world” element expanded exponentially, providing fresh, diverse looks and entirely new cultures for its artisans to tackle. Episode “Akane No Mai,” which earned noms for production design, fantasy/sci-fi costumes, hairstyling and makeup, blended Western (European American and First Nations characters) and Eastern looks (specifically Samurai World) that required dexterity and flexibility to mash up hosts and humans from different eras. Makeup department head Elisa Marsh juggled full-face and full-body makeups with battle wounds, differing skin tones and facial hair, overseeing as many as 40 other makeup artists by the season finale. “There are a lot of moving parts, so you have to adapt and take your strength from when you walk out and see it all complete,” she says. “It’s a challenging show, but you get this terrific payback.”
— Randee Dawn

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