Emmy’s Month: How The Emmy ® Statuette Is Made

The Emmys are this week! With that comes the speculation, the anticipation, and the inevitable consolation when your pick loses in their category (I expect to need lots of consolation). But I don’t want to talk about the nominees, I want to talk about Emmy herself.

Only recently have I ever wondered about the process of how awards are made. You’ve probably never seen an Emmy ® or an Oscar up close and in person (if you have, who are you and how did you find this tiny blog?), so it’s easy to dismiss where they come from. But they’re made somewhere, right? They don’t just appear from the sky into the winners hands, someone places an order, a company sculpts them, they’re shipped out to the award ceremony location, and stamped with the winners. So I decided to do a little research into how the award statuettes are made (and other random facts).

copyright ATAS/NATAS

According to the Emmy website, he Emmy ® statuette was designed by television engineer Louis McManus, who used his wife as the model. There’s gotta be something to the Oscar being a guy and the Emmy being a woman… There is the simple fact that Oscar was already a guy, so why not make the second biggest award in the industry a woman (and clearly a woman admired by the designer)? However there are some subtle correlations between the lauded importance of film (especially back in the day) and the second-class treatment of television (until the recent Golden Age where movie stars want to do TV and not because their careers are in the crapper). But this isn’t the point of this post.

Concerning the look of the statuette: “The wings represent the muse of art; the atom the electron of science.” It’s really easy to forget that television (and film as well) were scientific endeavors when they first began. We take the mechanisms behind it for granted, but television’s debut at the 1939 World’s Fair was basically someone presenting their giant science project. The Emmy represents both the art of the acting/directing/writing, but the science of cinematography and sound and color awarded in the (two) ceremonies today. (Those Creative Arts Emmys seem to often represent the more science-y side, despite its name. Those awards are given out the week before and aren’t widely televised like the regular award ceremony.)

Harry Lubcke, a pioneer television engineer and the third Academy president, suggested “Immy,” a term commonly used for the early image orthicon camera (there goes the science part again). The name stuck and was later modified to Emmy, which members thought was more appropriate for a female symbol. (x)

Each year, the R.S. Owens company in Chicago (who also make the Oscar, seen below) is charged with manufacturing over 400 statuettes ordered for the Primetime Emmys, which are awarded at the Creative Arts ceremony and Primetime Emmy telecast. As we get more and more television and the Emmys make adjustments to categories (like splitting up the miniseries category), I’m sure this will mean more Emmys to produce. R.S. Owens has been manufacturing the Oscar and Emmy Award trophies since 1983, after taking over from C.W. Shumway & Sons. In addition, between two hundred fifty and three hundred statuettes are ordered annually for the Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards, honoring excellence in local broadcasting. I think other local awards are produced elsewhere.

Here is a photo of Emmys in various stages of completion:

via Gizmodo. So cool!

The possibility of multiple winners is why the number of statuettes ordered varies each year. And don’t multiple writers on a show that wins best writing in a series get Emmys? (Otherwise, when the show is over, who keeps the Emmy? Writing duos wouldn’t just pass one back and forth every six months.) That would change how many people get a physical trophy as well, since some shows’ numbers differ. Surplus awards are saved for the following year’s ceremony.

Other Emmys Facts

  • Each custom casting is hand poured and takes five-and-one-half hours to make and is handled with white gloves to prevent fingerprints.
  • Emmys labels, declaring your name and category) used to (and probably sometimes still) be mailed to winners. But recently, the Governor’s Ball (held after the ceremony) hired an engraver to do it on the spot. (x)
  • The local South East chapter of the Emmys will replace your lost Emmy for a fee! (x) But what are you doing that you lose your EMMY?!
  • Each statuette costs about $400 to make and consist mostly of cheap metals, dipped in liquid gold. This cost is then passed on to the Emmy winners, as they’re required to purchase the statuette if they’d actually like to keep the award. (HuffPost) Woah! Imagine a show like Fraiser, which has won 37 TIMES (in various categories over 11 years)! But for a successful show/actor who just won an Emmy, the cost must be nothing compared to the increased pay, recognition, offers you must receive after getting the award.
  • The Emmy ® statuette must always appear facing left. ALWAYS.

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ConStar Clicks

I’ve been slacking on the #Clicks lately, I know. I’ve been either writing elsewhere, trying to finish my spec script, or watching Pulp Fiction for the first time. Also, haven’t found that many worthy articles. But, here are a few things, including some shameless self-promotion.

This just in! The Emmy’s have cleaned-up their category rules: comedy’s are now defined as series 30 minutes or less (blocking shows like Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin from being nom’ed in the Comedy category), but have also expanded categories selections from 5 to 7 nominees to make room for the crowding. As James Poniewozik said,

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Appreciate Emmys trying to clarify, but real issue is a lot of best TV today is neither strictly drama/comedy http://t.co/RmlLrEP8ZD

— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) February 20, 2015

There simply just needs to be a dramedy category (adding two slots per category basically gives Dramedy 4 slots if you just include Best Comedy/Drama. Instead of squeezing everyone between two, spread the love between three!), as I explain here: The Emmys Need New Categories. The article also says that “guest” stars who are in more than 50% of the series episodes are no longer eligible (which, though I love her, is how Uzo Aduba won for OitNB. Not fair to actual guest actors and not fair to her for not being allowed to submit for supporting actor!).

This LA Times article discusses how the diverse TV shows this year—and their phenomenal ratings—means that people are finally seeing that black shows (by nature of the shows presented) and diverse casts are winning this year. From Scandal beginning the wave to How to Get Away with Murder, Empire, and Black-ish all seeing increases—some record breaking—in their already high, premiere ratings, does this mean execs are finally seeing the value in diverse content? I surely hope so. And as much as I love Shonda Rhimes, I hope she is paving the way for more opportunities from other people of color and that ABC in particular aren’t just going to continue to default to her for their diverse offerings. Follow her example and find others to nurture and support and give their own platform. Though written before Fresh Off the Boat‘s premiere, I know that show also has premiered with fantastic numbers that I see increasing when competing time slot shows Parks and Recreation is over and The Flash is on hiatus for a month.

The Dangers of Binge Watching. Loved this humorous take on how addicting marathoning and bingeing can be. We’ve all been there… Binge Hangover.

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I wrote ‘In Defence of Felicitybecause of an article that boiled her arc on this season’s Arrow down to being “a woman scorned.” The author seemed upset that her writing had reduced her, but I felt that the post reduced her and didn’t see that there’s more going on in Felicity’s head than just her failed relationship with Oliver. Click through to read my thoughts and check out the original piece.

This week’s recaps by yours truly: Castle, Arrow.

Finally, I’ll be hanging out over on the Entertainment Weekly Community, where fans get to ramble about and write recaps for TV shows they love. It’s a pretty exclusive community, so I’m really excited to join in! For my first post, I wrote about the similarities between two of my favorite shows: Angel and Arrow. TV side-by-side: ‘Angel’ and ‘Arrow. I’ll also be doing Nightly Show round-ups and Angel nostalgia recaps.

Who Are the Emmy Voters?

Another Tatiana Maslany Emmy Nomination Snub — Vulture

Emmy nominations came out today and they’re extremely frustrating. I’ve never claimed to watch the most popular or hit shows on television, if I do, it’s usually after they’ve ended or the hype has gone down. I watch oddball stuff, the low-rated critical darling comedies (on NBC lol) and sci-fi/fantasy/action stuff (I’m binging Arrow, and I’m really enjoying it so far!). The shows I watch are hardly ever nominated. It’s not like I’m expecting Sleepy Hollow to win all the awards, I’m not. But Emmy noms make me wonder who is voting for the shows that get picked. Is it a representative sample of television watchers? Or just a bunch of old white men (and probably some women, which is good but not great) like every other prestigious committee?

We don’t really know who they are for some obvious reasons, but are there demographics available? I am thinking women are decently represented, especially with Orange is the New Black‘s nominations, and there are plenty of action loving men if HBO’s record breaking nominations are any indication. I’ve lost count of how many Game of Thrones received–this I am pleased with–but a lot of the people I know who watch Game of Thrones, also watch Orphan Black. There is a reason Sci-fi/Fantasy are so often lumped together when people list categories–fans one of often like stuff from the other. (Obviously not always, you usually pick one over the other–I’m more Fantasy than sci-fi myself.)

So who is voting for Game of Thrones but has no interest in Orphan Black? Who is voting for fantastic women on Netflix but isn’t interested in one fantastic woman playing many fantastic women on BBC America?I get that there are many other considerations to voting, people’s personal interests and whatever the For Your Consideration choice was, but for a second year in a row, an amazing actress was overlooked. And that doesn’t count the mainstream snubs: I don’t even watch The Good Wife and I think it was snubbed for a best drama nomination.

I wish we knew more about these voters. Where are they coming from? What makes them decide the way they do? Do we need an upgrade of the entire system? Like many things, I kind of imagine they haven’t changed the way they do things, or include people, in ages. Have they widened their net of voters in this ever expanding age of television? They need more sci-fi watchers, more fantasy watchers, more young people, more people who will vote for Amy Poehler to finally win that comedy award she so achingly deserves (they’ve got this year and next to recognize. She might get another show immediately, but she deserves it for Parks so, so much). There’s more television happening than ever before and it’s not being looked at by the Emmy committee. There are more networks, more internet voices coming to play in the big leagues; have we included voters to represent those new voices that these new networks and new shows are trying to bring to the forefront? The Emmy pool just tells me that the efforts being made to bring diversity to the screen isn’t being made in the voting pool.

Maybe we need a category for science fiction, since it’s the most snubbed TV genre that I can think of. Maybe I am wrong or misinformed,  but the selections aren’t showing the true pool of talent on television and isn’t that what the Emmy’s are for*?

*The answer is probably actually all about money. So everything I said means nothing. Except, the Good Wife is a hit show on the “number one network,” you know some hefty money is involved there. Ok, I’m done rambling about Emmy snubs now.

Check out the full nomination list here: http://www.thewrap.com/emmy-awards-nominees-nominations-emmys/