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CMU alumni Andrew Leitch and Eugene Lee win Emmys for their work on television

Carnegie Mellon University alumni Andrew Leitch (’12) and Eugene Lee (’75) both won Emmys at the 69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 10 at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards mainly honors behind-the-scenes technical and production achievements in American Television programming, including production design, casting, cinematography, etc.
This is Leitch’s first Emmy award, which he received along with two other members. They won in the category of “Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half-Hour or Less)” for the episode “Omaha” on the sixth season of the HBO show Veep. A couple of his current and upcoming set design undertakings include season two of the popular Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, and a new HBO comedy TV series, Here, Now.

In the past couple of years, much of Leitch’s work focused on set designing for TV series, while before that he worked as an assistant art director and graphics assistant for various projects. While working on Veep during its fifth and sixth seasons, Leitch also worked with fellow Carnegie Mellon alumni Arthur Chadwick (’97) and Rebecca McAusland (’09), and has mentioned working with Carnegie Mellon alumni in different art departments in his past. In a university press release, Lee mentions that Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama education is advantageous to students not only due to the vigor of the program, but also because of the connections they can make through opportunities like senior year design showcase.

Lee has won two Emmy Awards in his lifetime (2017 and 2013), both for his work on Saturday Night Live, and has been nominated for another 11 Emmy awards. This year, he and his team won “Outstanding Production Design for Variety, Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Programming.” Lee is credited with working as a production designer on over 450 episodes of SNL and over 250 episodes of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

In an interview with GQ Style in July, Lee explained his experience working on SNL, a show that is built from scratch week by week: “Things change very fast. It can come together the night before. In a way, it’s charming. On one hand, I’ve worked on shows like Wicked where every moment is thought through, every transition figured out. You have a lot of time to get it exactly right. Here, it’s always changing but you always get to do it again next week. Sometimes it all falls together perfectly. People don’t always understand how it happens — it’s very complicated.”

Leitch and Lee are among the 14 Carnegie Mellon alumni that were nominated a total of 17 times for eight Emmy Awards this year. Of the alumni, 13 studied in the areas of design and production from Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama.

Some other nominees include Noah Mitz (’05) for “Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series” on America’s Got Talent, Mitz for both “Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special” on the Grammy Awards and Tony Awards broadcasts, Judith Light (’70) for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in A Comedy Series” on Transparent, John Shaffner and Ann Shea for “Outstanding Production Design For a Narrative (Half-Hour or Less)” on The Big Bang Theory, and many more.