TV’s onscreen and behind the camera talent gathered at the Nokia Theatre LA Live to celebrate the 2012 Creative Arts Emmys Saturday.
HBO lead the night with the most awards (17) followed by CBS (13) and PBS (11). HBO’s Game of Thrones was the top-winning series with six awards, followed by a three-way tie between Discovery’s Frozen Planet, PBS’ Great Expectations and NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which won four each.
The ceremony, which focused on technical categories, also handed out statues to guest actors.
Showtime’s Homeland took home the evening’s first award, for outstanding casting in a drama series. But several upsets will likely generate the most buzz when all is said and done.
In a pair of surprise victories, Kathy Bates, who earlier in the week revealed she was battling breast cancer, won for outstanding guest comedy actress for her work as Charlie Harper’s ghost on Two and a Half Men (CBS).
“Is this is actually happening and is it officially too late for a recount?” Davies asked reporters after his win. Told by a reporter “You are forever an Emmy winner,” Davies responded that “it sounds like blasphemy.”
Another upset came when Nickelodeon’s Penguins of Madagascar took home the outstanding animated program award, besting last year’s winner, Futurama (Comedy Central), as well as Fox’s The Simpsons, American Dad, and Bob’s Burgers.
Despite his series’ loss, Futurama’s Maurice LaMarche managed to snag his second consecutive outstanding voice-over performance win.
The Daily Show was honored with an Emmy for outstanding writing for a variety series.
“We have the benefit of being a half hour show,” Daily Show writer Kevin Bleyer told reporters. “We have a small nozzle of truth to put out there. We try to address the big issues of the day, even if its difficult.”
Daily Show alum Rob Corddry won with Cartoon Network’s Children’s Hospital, which took home the award for special class programming.
“I’m surprised we won. I’m surprised the show is even on TV,” Corddry told reporters. “The fact that this category even exists is pretty great because this is what everyone in comedy is doing; really fringe stuff with friends.”
An emotional moment came when Governors Award winners Dan Savage and Terry Miller received a standing ovation from the crowd. The founders of the It Gets Better Project accepted their award from Academy Chair Bruce Rosenblum.
“Terry Miller is my husband in Canada and boyfriend in America,” said sex advice columnist Savage. “He was the first to recognize the power of this project.”
The couple was introduced by project supporter Neil Patrick Harris and closed their brief speech with a kiss on stage. Afterwards, Savage elaborated on the moment to reporters.
“The award is not for us. It’s for the project. I think it’s a moment in our culture when it’s broken through to the world that LGBT children were suffering and dying,” Savage said. “To get a standing ovation from that crowd was flabbergasting. I actually teared up and then I couldn’t see to the read the teleprompter and I had to wing it.”
Several very recognizable faces took home awards. Jimmy Fallon won for guest hosting Saturday Night Live, and Martin Scorsese nabbed a win for outstanding directing for a nonfiction series/special for George Harrison: Living in the Material World.
Harrison’s widow, Olivia, told reporters the late Beatles guitarist had wanted to make his own documentary.
“After the Beatles Anthology came out, he started filming and was filming for several years to do his own story,’ Harrison said. “I think he would be very happy with the award and the reception.”
In a huge first win for the series, CBS’ Undercover Boss took home outstanding reality program. Discovery’s Frozen Planet won oustanding nonfiction series.
On the design front, HBO’s Game of Thrones was honored for outstanding costumes for a series, its first win in that category, while FX’s American Horror Story took home its first Emmy for outstanding hairstyling for a miniseries or movie.
When asked how he would celebrate his editing win for History’s Hatfields & McCoys, Don Cassidy said “I’m going to have my second beer of the day.”
Meanwhile, PBS’ Downton Abbey topped AMC’s Mad Men for outstanding hairstyle for a single-camera series. Christine Greenwood, key hairstylist for the series, told reporters season two had its own flavor in the hair department.
“Hats got smaller so the hair styles were also reduced,” Greenwood said. “Women did not want to look as though they spent a lof of time on their hair.”
Dick Askin, a former Television Academy chairman, received the Syd Cassyd Award, which is named for the academy’s founder and is presented for making “a significant, positive impact” on the organization.
“I’m very honored. There have only been nine or ten of these presented in the Academy’s history an it was a complete surprise when I was told I was going to receive it,” Askin said.
The final award of the evening went to Martha Plimpton for outstanding drama guest actress for CBS’ The Good Wife. She praised TV crews after her win.
“The Creative Emmys is fantastic because you get the opportunity to be with the people behind the scenes,” Plimpton told reporters. “Nothing is better than a great, great crew, professional, warm-hearted people that make your job so much easier.”
An edited down, two-hour version of the ceremony will air Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. on Reelz Channel, the day before The Primetime Emmys. The awards were produced by Spike Jones Jr. and coordinating producer Carole Propp.