Sixteen Carnegie Mellon University alumni will be lighting up the small screen this year as nominees in 14 categories at the 70th Emmy Awards at 8 p.m. ET, Sept. 17 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Colin Jost and Michael Che, Weekend Update anchors on “Saturday Night Live,” will serve as co-hosts.

Leading the CMU pack with the most nominations is Noah Mitz, a 2005 alumnus, who is nominated for three Emmys for outstanding lighting design. One of his nominations is as lighting designer for “America’s Got Talent” on NBC, where four of the five nominated team members are graduates of CMU’s School of Drama. Fellow alumni on the team are Ryan Tanker, a 2010 alumnus, Michael Berger, a 2012 alumnus, and Charles Dabezies, a 2014 graduate.

The variety show which is currently in its 13th season works with a broad range of performers from singers to dancers and comedians to acrobats. As the season progresses, acts are eliminated and the ones that remain become more elaborate with their staging. Mitz said the lighting team works with each act to create the best visuals and aesthetics.

“There’s a big progression through the season and it shows as we up the ante with custom lighting looks and screens content to give contestants a full-on production treatment,” Mitz said. “Our amazing lighting crew works tirelessly on all the phases of ‘America’s Got Talent to make our designs become a reality.”

“America’s Got Talent” Executive Producer Sam Donnelly said the work of the lighting designs is essential to the overall visual success of the show.

“Noah, Ryan, Michael and Charles’ work is truly unparalleled and crucial to the audience’s response to an act.. It is so important for us as producers to be able to rely on a team of lighting designers that knows how to get the right reaction from our audience while, simultaneously, best serving our talent,” Donnelly said.

“It’s about communicating the proper mood and feeling to the viewer. Our phenomenal lighting team grasps more than just the basic lighting tricks, illusions or techniques; they have an artist’s eye for color, shadow, light, depth and have sincerely mastered the practices for replicating such artistry,” Donnelly said.

“America’s Got Talent” Executive Producer Jason Raff echoed that sentiment.

“Week after week Noah and his team make an instrumental creative contribution to the show – combining their artistic vision with their technical knowhow,” Raff said. “With their shared background attending Carnegie Mellon, it’s like we are working with an Emmy-award winning lighting fraternity.”

Carnegie Mellon alumni can be found behind the scenes of many productions in Hollywood. Mitz said he’ll run into other Carnegie Mellon alumni on different jobs, including classmates and friends Alana Billingsley and Kristen Merlino who are also nominated for Emmys this year.

“The CMU alumni community and specifically the West Coast Drama Alumni Clan is a great resource in Los Angeles for professionals in the entertainment industry, the support they provide is phenomenal,” Mitz said.

CMU connections abound. Robert Dickinson, who founded Full Flood Inc, the design firm that Mitz and his team work for on “America’s Got Talent,” often led industry workshops for CMU’s School of Drama. Mitz attended a workshop while at CMU and became an intern for Dickinson at the Tony Awards in 2003. He’s worked with Dickinson on nearly every Tony Awards broadcast since then. Dickinson received an honorary degree from CMU in 2005, the year Mitz graduated. Mitz said Full Flood, often hires interns from CMU and other universities.

“We’ve found that the best way find the next generation of assistants and designers, is to employ them as interns and assistants early on in their careers” Mitz said.

Berger said he met Dickinson and Mitz at a CMU workshop.

“Noah and Bob were some of the first industry professionals I met and are more or less entirely responsible for me moving into this field,” Berger said. “”In the last few years I have had the chance to follow in Bob and Noah’s footsteps leading the lighting component of CMU’s television workshop each fall.”

CMU alumni nominated for their acting are Judith LightCherry Jones and Ted Danson. Light, a 1970 graduate is nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie for her role as Marilyn Miglin in “The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” Jones, a 1978 alumna, is nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series for her portrayal of Holly Osborne in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Danson, a 1972 graduate, is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series for his role as Michael in “The Good Place.” Danson received an honorary doctorate at CMU’s Commencement in May.

Emmy Nominations

Outstanding Production Design For A Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour Or More)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” ( Hulu)
Mark White, production designer, College of Fine Arts 1984
Elisabeth Williams, production designer
Martha Sparrow, art director
Caroline Gee, set decorator

“Twin Peaks” (Showtime)
Ruth De Jong, production designer
Cara Brower, art director
Florencia Martin, set decorator, College of Fine Arts 2007

Outstanding Production Design For A Variety, Reality Or Reality-Competition Series
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
Eugene Lee, production designer, College of Fine Arts 1962
Akira Yoshimura, production designer
Keith Ian Raywood, production designer
N. Joseph DeTullio, production designer

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie
“The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX Networks)
Judith Light, as Marilyn Miglin, College of Fine Arts 1970

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Cherry Jones, as Holly Osborne, College of Fine Arts 1978

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
“The Good Place” (NBC)
Ted Danson, as Michael, College of Fine Arts 1972

Outstanding Production Design For A Variety Special
“Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special” (CBS)
Joe Stewart, production designer, College of Fine Arts 1977
Joseph Mark Sarno, Art director

“The 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards” (NBC)
Brian Stonestreet, production designer, College of Fine Arts 1988
John Zuiker, art director, College of Fine Arts 2011

“60th Annual Grammy Awards” (CBS)
Brian Stonestreet, production designer
Kristen Merlino, art director, College of Fine Arts 2005
Gloria Lamb, art director

“The Oscars” (ABC)
Derek McLane, Production designer
Alana Billingsley, art director, College of Fine Arts 2004
Kristen Merlino, art director

Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction For A Variety Series
“America’s Got Talent” (NBC)
Noah Mitz, lighting designer, College of Fine Arts 2005
Ryan Tanker, lighting director, College of Fine Arts 2010
Michael Berger, lighting director, College of Fine Arts 2012
Charles Dabezies, lighting director, College of Fine Arts 2014
Matthew Benson, lighting director

Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction For A Variety Special
“60th Annual Grammy Awards” (CBS)
Robert Dickinson, lighting designer, honorary degree recipient 2005
Noah Mitz, lighting director
Andy O’Reilly, lighting director
Patrick Boozer, lighting director
Ryan Tanker, lighting director

“The Oscars” (ABC)
Robert Dickinson, lighting designer
Travis Hagenbuch, lighting director
Michael Berger, lighting director
Andy O’Reilly, lighting director
Patrick Boozer, lighting director
Ben Green, lighting director

“71st Annual Tony Awards” (CBS)
Robert Dickinson, lighting designer
Ed McCarthy, lighting director
Noah Mitz, lighting director
Harry Sangmeister, lighting director
RJ Styles, lighting director

Written by Heidi Opdyke