Emmys: 13 Hot Contenders in the Creative Arts Races

Getty Images
Tina Fey, left, and Amy Poehler hosting the 2013 Golden Globe

THR spotlights a sample of fascinating candidates for creative arts nominations -- and why they're so good at what they do.

Set Production: Edward Thomas

Production designer of Da Vinci’s Demons

Thomas explored Florence, Italy, many times
 on foot and in a helicopter — as a self-described “architectural detective” — to re-create a 15th century version of the city for the Starz fantasy series about the Renaissance genius. Thomas reconstructed the ancient city with a full-scale Duomo and Ponte Vecchio bridge inside a 250,000-square-foot studio in Swansea, Wales. The studio helped him solve his biggest challenge: the dreary Welsh weather. “Last summer was the wettest in the U.K. known to man,” he says. Even so, dialogue had to be changed. “As Leonardo shows the Medici family his new weapon, he’s admonished, ‘Show us the gun before we all drown!’ ” Thomas’ sci-fi background (Dr. Who, Torchwood) was one of the reasons he got the job. “David S. Goyer gave me license for magical surrealism,” he says. “We added a live zebra to the Medici grounds. And I punked up the Vatican!”

Hosting: Tina Fey
 and Amy Poehler

Fey, in her own words, on hosting 
the Golden Globes

"Amy and I agreed early on that the word 'host' was very important. We were there to officiate the party and keep it moving. This was not a night to invent a new form of comedy. Other award shows are like very stressful business conventions, but not the Globes!

"After we found out we were hosting, we contacted a bunch of friends including [Saturday Night Live's] Seth Meyers, Robert Carlock, Alex Baze and others. We asked, ‘Who wants to write some jokes?’ Then we found ourselves on that Friday night assembling the show like a ‘Weekend Update’ segment, organized by subject. We read each joke out loud in front of some of the Dick Clark Productions people. Thankfully, they were super-agreeable.

"The opening monologue was totally prepared, but other parts we improvised. For example, Amy was winging it with Bill Clinton when she said, ‘That was Bill Rodham!’ Also, we improvised the Lena Dunham joke and the now-infamous Taylor Swift joke. Also, it was Amy's idea to do the bit where we sat in the audience playing fake people, which luckily added no time to the broadcast. I think less than a minute. Overall, I was so proud of how we didn’t cause any trouble throughout the night. For us, it just wasn’t that kind of gig.

"Afterward, when everyone was so kind in telling us we did a good job, we just felt like, ‘Wow, we got away with it!’ We never expected that kind of positive reception. mostly we thought, ‘Cool, we can spend a weekend together!' Will we host again? I’m not sure. For now, we’re still just relieved!"

PHOTOS: Emmys 2013: Behind the Scenes Photos From THR's Drama Showrunner Roundtable

Casting: Laray Mayfield
 and Julie Schubert

Casting directors of Netflix’s House of Cards, in their own words

“When you start with Kevin Spacey, the bar is pretty high, but how amazing to get the chance to surround him with a bunch of amazingly talented actors? We only had a dialogue with the filmmakers, and because we didn’t have the traditional pilot process, David Fincher and [showrunner] Beau Willimon were so forthcoming with information and background. We got a chance to really know these characters before the auditions while they were still being written. This whole experience feels like we’re pioneers, and we’re grateful to be a part of it.”

Costumes: Dan Lawson

Costume designer for CBS’ The Good Wife, 
in his own words

“Adrian, the very famous costume designer
 from MGM’s golden years, said that contemporary costume design was the most challenging because everybody is an expert. It makes it hard to achieve individuality in the looks from season to season, but Alicia Florrick [Julianna Margulies] really has seen her style progress. We repeat outfits from time to time, and we pulled out a gorgeous Ralph Lauren suit this year, thinking it would be great for a scene. Julianna put it on, and I said, ‘This is so two years ago for her.’ She had progressed to a new point in her life, and that suit no longer supported that growth. I love that the wardrobe is able to grow with the growth of the character.”

Hair and Makeup: Rene Dashiell Kerby and James Servera Jr.

Makeup department head and hair
 department head, respectively, for Fox’s Raising Hope, in their own words

“It is so surreal to work with Cloris Leachman. She is 87 years old, and absolutely nothing gets past her. In our season finale, where she played herself and her mother, we worked with the amazing Matthew Mungle to put her in a full head mold to make her look older. After a few hours in hair and makeup, she was in a bald cap with little wisps of hair and prosthetics all over her face. She basically looked like Gollum, and she spent the whole day making it very clear to everybody that none of it was her real face.”

STORY: THR Emmy Roundtable: 6 Drama Showrunners on Violence, Staffing and Character Flaws

Cinematography: John Bartley

Cinematographer on History’s Vikings, in his own words

“I thought some of the best stuff we did was the battles on the beaches. It’s just a matter of the stunt guys getting it right, the director knowing what he’s doing, and we all get in and help them as much as possible. I think the toughest part was we had two Viking ships — one was a real ship, and the other had to go on a gimbal. There were close to 20 people on that ship, and it was going up and down. Then we had water, rain — it was a nightmare. When my boots were about half full, I was ready to go home. We did have a crane and a remote camera full-time. I think that added a lot to the look of the show.”

Hair: Peggy Schierholz

Hair department head on FX’s The Americans, in her own words

“I always do very specific research. I used the Internet for news and movie clips, but magazines were great. I was able to find most of 1981’s Time magazines, a year of Playboys and a bunch of Bazaars. Our main goal was not to make [the cast] look too theatrical or costumey. We wanted them to look as much like real people at the time as possible. As in imperfect and unassuming — not anything that would stand out in a crowd. With [executive producer] Joe Weisberg being former CIA, he was very specific about wanting that look. The challenge was to give the audience little surprises along the way. TV moves so quickly. you pull it out of your hat. you’re getting one script at a time, then all of a sudden, say, the ‘Gregory’ episode showed up, and it was like, ‘Oh, I have to get a bunch of afros together, don’t I?’ ”

Stunt Coordination: Allan Poppleton

Stunt coordinator for Starz’s Spartacus: War of the Damned

One month before filming began on Starz’s Spartacus, 40 actors and stunt men gathered for Poppleton’s annual Gladiator Boot Camp. “We have them for five days a week for four weeks,” says Poppleton, who put them through gymnastics, body dynamics (how to roll, fall and do both with weapons), unarmed combat and mixed martial arts. Lead actors Liam McIntyre, Dustin Clare and Manu Bennett and their “stunties” must learn to wield such Roman weapons as three-pronged spears, double swords, war hammers and nets. “We always try to make the fight sequences more interesting each season, to flash it up for the audience,” says Poppleton. “It gets boring if everyone just has swords.”

STORY: THR Emmy Roundtable: 6 Drama Actresses on Death Threats, Post-Baby Auditions

Editing: Steve Welch

Editor of New Girl, in his own words

“It may not always feel that way, but it’s a fairly ambitious show. There are a lot of ideas packed into the scripts. When we’re shooting, they open it up to alternates and improvisation. I get the feeling that [creator] Liz Meriwether likes to be surprised, and she lets the actors try and find something else. A normal comedy these days has 12 to 16 hours of footage for an episode; ours is
 a bit higher. ‘Cooler,’ in season two, had a good 23 hours. A surprising amount of the ad libbing makes it in. In my other experiences, maybe 10 percent of that has been usable, but our ratio is much better. A good 30 to 40 percent of it is gold. There’s always stuff we love that ends up on the floor — that’s why you don’t see the long main title anymore. I’ll take another minute where I can get it.”

Cinematography: Denis Crossan

Director of photography on Reelz Channel’s World Without End

The sequel to Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth revisits Knightsbridge 200 years later. For Crossan, that meant creating a newer look for
 the medieval drama. “Director Michael Caton-Jones wanted it to look more like a pre-Raphaelite painting,” says Crossan. Medieval light, or rather the lack thereof, was his biggest challenge on the Hungarian sets of a village square and countryside, which filming at night often solved and even enhanced: “It made the hanging scene more dramatic — lots of flaming torches, chaos, fights breaking out.” Crossan describes himself as a happy convert from film to the Alexa digital camera: “With digital, you can change colors, make parts of the scene darker or light. It’s like painting on a canvas.”