Times Staff Writer

Documentaries about the careers of actors Laurence Olivier, W.C. Fields and Spencer Tracy shared the limelight in the first round of the 38th annual Emmy Awards for outstanding nighttime TV programs.

“W.C. Fields Straight Up” was named best informational special Saturday night and “Laurence Olivier--A Life” shared the honors as best informational series with “Planet Earth.” All three programs aired on the Public Broadcasting Service.

“The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn,” another PBS offering, lost to the W.C. Fields biography as best informational special but collected Emmys for the script by John L. Miller and the directing by David Heeley.


While PBS picked up the top awards during non-televised ceremonies at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, it was NBC that walked off with the most in the first phase of Emmys covering the 1985-86 season--15, including three each for “St. Elsewhere,” “Amazing Stories” and “An Early Frost.”

Most of the 44 Emmys handed out Saturday by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences were for the technical aspects of TV production. Another 32, covering performing, writing, directing and best shows, will be announced Sept. 21 in ceremonies here that will be broadcast nationally by NBC.

Besides the 15 Emmys for NBC, which also finished first in the prime-time ratings last season, CBS had 12, PBS collected 10, ABC picked up 5 and a syndicated program, “Solid Gold,” got one (for lighting direction).

CBS shared one of its dozen Emmys with Sony and Cinedco for engineering, and a separate engineering Emmy went to Stefan Kudelski for the development of a new system to record and play back stereophonic sound.

The only other best program award made in the first round went to CBS’ “Garfield’s Halloween Adventure” as best animated program. Its only competition in the category had been “Garfield in Paradise,” made by the same people.

“I’d like to share this award with the loser,” quipped Jim Davis, creator of the Garfield comic strip and writer of the two cartoon shows.


“An Early Frost,” a TV movie about a family’s reaction to the news that a homosexual son had contracted AIDS was honored for best cinematography, editing and sound mixing.

In one of the few serious moments of the awards proceedings, editor Jerrold L. Ludwig made it the point of his acceptance speech to remind the audience what “An Early Frost” was about, and to urge them to contribute to efforts to find a cure to the fatal disease.

“If you think AIDS can’t touch you, it can,” he said. “I think all of us should try to destroy this disease before it destroys all of us.”

NBC’s medical drama “St. Elsewhere” collected Emmys for art direction, costuming and sound mixing, while its anthology series “Amazing Stories” was cited for cinematography, hair-styling and sound editing.

“Moonlighting,” which led all nominees this year with 16, garnered only one Emmy in the first round, for editor Neil Mandelberg.

Making the farthest trip to pick up an Emmy was Ella Maklakova, a Soviet costume designer who worked on the NBC miniseries “Peter the Great,” which was filmed in her country.


“I’m so excited,” she said from the podium, through an interpreter. She reported that she had been traveling for nearly 48 hours to get to the awards show and concluded, “I’m extremely happy; I thank you all.”

The first batch of Emmy winners is not necessarily an indicator of who is likely to win at the Sept. 21 ceremony, because the TV Academy uses a peer-group judging process (actors vote on actors, writers on writers) that prevents block voting.

Here are the winner’s from Saturday’s ceremonies.

Informational Series: “Laurence Olivier--A Life,” PBS; “Planet Earth,” PBS.

Informational Special: “W.C. Fields Straight Up,” PBS.

Animated Program: “Garfield’s Halloween Adventure,” CBS.

Classical Program in the Performing Arts: “Wolf Trap Presents the Kirov: Swan Lake,” PBS.

Writing, Informational Programming: John L. Miller, “The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn,” PBS.

Directing, Informational Programming: David Heeley, “The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn,” PBS.

Directing, Classical Music Programming: Franco Zeffirelli, “Cavalleria Rusticana,” PBS.

Choreography: Walter Painter, “Sylvia Fine Kaye’s Musical Comedy Tonight III,” PBS.

Editing, Series (Single Camera Production): Neil Mandelberg, “Moonlighting,” ABC.

Editing, Series (Multi-Camera Production): Henry F. Chan, “The Cosby Show,” NBC.

Editing, Miniseries or Special (Single Camera Production): Jerrold L. Ludwig, “An Early Frost,” NBC.

Editing, Miniseries or Special (Multi-Camera Production): Pam Marshall, “American Bandstand’s 33 Celebration,” ABC.


Cinematography, Series: John McPherson, “The Mission” episode of “Amazing Stories,” NBC.

Cinematography, Miniseries or Special: Sherwood Woody Omens, “An Early Frost,” NBC.

Art Direction, Series: Jacqueline Webber, Norman Rockett, “St. Elsewhere,” NBC.

Art Direction, Variety or Music Program: Roy Christopher, “The 58th Annual Academy Awards,” ABC.

Art Direction, Miniseries or Special: Tony Walton, John Kasarda, Robert J. Franco, “Death of a Salesman,” CBS.

Lighting Direction (Electronic), Series: Bob Dickinson, “Solid Gold,” syndicated.

Lighting Direction (Electronic), Miniseries or Special: Marilyn Lowey, John Rook, Kim Killingsworth, “Neil Diamond . . . Hello Again,” CBS.

Music Composition, Series: Arthur B. Rubinstein, “Scarecrow and Mrs. King,” CBS.

Music and Lyrics: Larry Grossman, Buz Kohan for “My Christmas Wish,” from “Andy Williams and the NBC Kids,” NBC.

Music Direction: Elliot Lawrence, James Lawrence, Lanny Meyers, Tommy Newsome, Glen Roven, Larry Schwartz, Torrie Zito, “The 1986 Tony Awards,” CBS.

Costume Design, Series: Alfred E. Lehman, “Murder, She Wrote,” CBS.

Costume Design, Variety or Music Program: Bill Hargate, “Sylvia Fine Kaye’s Musical Comedy Tonight III,” PBS.


Costume Design, Miniseries or Special: Ella Maklakova, Sibylle Ulsamer, “Peter the Great,” NBC.

Costuming, Series: Susan Smith-Nashold, Robert M. Moore, Charles Drayman, Anne Winsor, Kathy O’Rear, “St. Elsewhere,” NBC.

Costuming, Miniseries or Special: Joie Hutchinson, Vicki Sanchez, Pat McGrath, “North and South, Book I,” ABC.

Makeup, Series: Rod Wilson, “Airwolf,” CBS.

Makeup, Miniseries or Special: Del Acevedo, Paul Stanhope, “Second Serve,” CBS.

Hair-styling, Miniseries or Special: K.G. Ramsey, “Second Serve,” CBS.

Hair-styling, Series: Bernadette (Bunny) Parker, “Gather Ye Acorns” episode of “Amazing Stories,” NBC.

Sound Editing, Series: Richard Anderson, Wayne Allwine, James Christopher, Geroge Frederick, John Stacy, Burton Weinstein, Lettie Odney, Denise Whiting, Ken Wannberg, “The Mission” episode of “Amazing Stories,” NBC.

Sound Editing, Miniseries or Special: David R. Elliott, Dino DiMuro, Mark Friedgen, Mike Graham, Larry Kemp, Joe Mayer, Joseph A. Melody, Stewart Nelson, Gregory Schorer, Eric Scott, Rusty Tinsley, Scot Tinsley, Bill Williams, Russ Tinsley, Daniel A. Carlin, “Under Siege,” NBC.


Sound Mixing, Drama Series: William Gazecki, Andrew MacDonald, Bill Nicholson, Blake Wilcox, “St. Elsewhere,” NBC.

Sound Mixing, Comedy Series: Michael Ballin, Robert Douglas, Douglas Grey, Thomas J. Huth, “Cheers,” NBC.

Sound Mixing, Variety or Music Series or Special: Tom Ancell, David E. Fluhr, “Mr. Previn Comes to Town,” PBS.

Sound Mixing, Miniseries or Special: David E. Campbell, John T. Reitz, Gregg C. Rudloff, Keith A. Webster, “An Early Frost,” NBC.

Technical Direction/Electronic Camera/Video Control, Miniseries or Special: Gene Crowe, Harry Tatarian, Toby Brown, Ed Chaney, Mike Denney, Larry Heider, Pat Kenney, Bob Keys, Dave Levisohn, Wayne Orr, Hector Ramirez, Ron Sheldon, John Palacio, Keith Winikoff, “Neil Diamond . . . Hello Again,” CBS.

Special Visual Effects: Phil Tippet, “Dinosaur!,” CBS; Michael McAlister, “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor,” ABC.


Graphics and Title Design: Betty Green, “Stingray,” NBC.

Engineering Development: Stefan Kudelski for his development of the Nagra Recorder, and CBS, Sony and Cinedco for the design and implementation of electronic editing systems for film programs.