The real Emmys fun happens at low-profile event
By Todd Longwell
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It's an event that has honored Sarah Silverman for her song "I'm F---ing Matt Damon" (from ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live"), blasphemed Jesus and featured nonagenarian fitness guru Jack LaLanne leading its audience in calisthenics.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences calls it the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, but the event -- scheduled for August 21 at the Nokia Theatre and telecast in edited form the following Friday on E! Entertainment Television -- might more accurately be described as the Not Ready for Primetime Emmys.
Awards in 71 categories are handed out at the Creative Arts Emmys, more than double the amount at the Primetime Emmys, held a week later at the same venue. While the event has a handful of celebrity-friendly categories, like guest acting, the bulk of the awards are for below-the-line disciplines deemed too mundane for the big show, such as art direction, cinematography and sound editing.
The show's low profile has worked in its favor, making it one of the looser, edgier stops on the awards circuit.
"Because it's on a cable channel, not a broadcaster, and we know that the show is going to be edited, people tend to relax a little bit more with their language," TV Academy chairman and CEO John Shaffner says.
In recent years, the show has increased its celebrity quotient with high-profile hosts such as Penn & Teller, Neil Patrick Harris (who went on to host the Primetime Emmys in 2009) and George Lopez, and a growing number of TV star attendees and presenters, many of whom turn out to show support for the craftspeople on their shows.
One of the engines behind the evolution has been producer Spike Jones Jr., who started with the show in 1995 when it was just a modest dinner dance at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
"It was noisy, people were smashed," Jones recalls. Although "3,000 people smashed is a lot of fun," he allows, "it was basically, 'Here's your award, here's your salad, have a nice day.'" Continued...