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Five nights of virtual Creative Arts Emmys yield firsts and relatively few snafus

Actors Ron Cephas Jones and Jasmine Cephas Jones won Creative Arts Emmys this week, the first father-daughter duo to do so.
Actors Ron Cephas Jones and his daughter Jasmine Cephas Jones, pictured during an August Zoom call, each won Creative Arts Emmys this week to become the first father-daughter duo to do so.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The Emmys in the “creative arts” categories, usually awarded over two nights, were given out over five this year, and all virtually. If that sounds like a recipe for technical disaster ... it wasn’t, but for one notable error that ended up making one nominee feel like an “Outsider.”

For the category of guest actor in a drama, the winner’s name appeared on the screen as Ron Cephas Jones (his third nomination for “This Is Us,” with one previous win), while it was audibly announced as Jason Bateman (for HBO’s “The Outsider”). A graphic explaining that an error had occurred and an incorrect winner had been announced filled the screen, and after a commercial break, Jones was then confirmed as the winner — though no acceptance speech was shown.

Thanks to COVID-19, Reginald Hudlin, the first Black executive producer in Emmys history, has many unknowns to plan for. But don’t expect ‘The Zoomies.’

Otherwise, the all-virtual five-night affair went off with aplomb, with a number of notable firsts apart from the method of the ceremonies (in which nominees submitted taped acceptance speeches, hoping theirs would be the ones to be played).

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Here are some highlights.

Jones became half of the first father-daughter duo to win in the same year when daughter Jasmine Cephas Jones (Broadway’s “Hamilton”) earned the Emmy for actress in a short form comedy or drama series. The short form award came for her appearance in Quibi’s "#FreeRayshawn,” which collected the micro-streamer’s first two Emmys — for her work and for Laurence Fishburne’s acting in the same show. The service has had a devil of a time converting free-trial users into subscribers, but its very high production values (reportedly around $100,000 per minute with some top names involved) paid off this awards season with the two wins among 10 nominations.

The ‘This Is Us’ actor shared some key advice with his daughter Jasmine before her whirlwind ‘Hamilton’ experience and her nomination in a Quibi short.

Among the other notable firsts, Eddie Murphy finally picked up an Emmy, as guest actor in a comedy series for his hosting stint on “Saturday Night Live.” Among his four previous nominations were three for his work as a performer or writer on the show when he was a regular. In his acceptance speech, he noted that it had been 40 years since his debut on “SNL.”

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Emmys 2020

In another “SNL"-related first, former cast member Maya Rudolph finally picked up her first Emmy after six nominations since 2012. She won two trophies this year, one for her voice-over work in the animated “Big Mouth” and one for playing Kamala Harris, now candidate for vice president, in the same “SNL” episode Murphy hosted. One of the guest actresses in a comedy series she beat out for the prize: herself, in her third nomination of the year, for her work as the Judge in “The Good Place.” Rudolph, who declined to pre-record acceptance speeches, said in the virtual press room that her costume as the Judge was meant as an homage to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court robe: “When you think of a judge, when you think of all-knowing, when you think of powerful, when you think of all good, yeah, we modeled her robe after RBG, so that was pretty cool.”

In a docuseries race that drew a lot of attention, the ESPN/Netflix chronicle of Michael Jordan and the Bulls, “The Last Dance,” hit the game winner over Netflix’s water-cooler champ “Tiger King,” “Hillary,” “McMillions” and 20-time winner (and 57-time nominee) “American Masters.”

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Meanwhile, “Watchmen,” which leads all Primetime Emmy contenders with 26 nominations overall, collected seven Creative Arts awards. “The Mandalorian” (15 nominations overall) matched in with seven wins to share the lead. One of “Mandalorian’s” wins was for Ludwig Göransson’s score. In response, the Swedish composer (an Oscar winner for “Black Panther”) tweeted out a sweet photo with his son, Apollo, in a Baby Yoda hat.

“Dave Chappelle: Sticks and Stones” won for variety special (pre-recorded) and for writing in the category; “Bad Education” took home the TV movie trophy, as expected; RuPaul collected his seventh Emmy, his fifth for hosting “RuPaul’s Drag Race”; and HBO and Netflix tied with 19 wins each to lead the field.

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