‘Twice Born’ wins a Documentary Emmy Award

Bill Gardner of PBS, Monica Lange and Bonnie Cutler-Shear with their Emmy Award from “Twice Born.”
Bill Gardner of PBS, Monica Lange and Bonnie Cutler-Shear with their Emmy Award from “Twice Born.” Photo by Marc Bryan-Brown.

“Twice Born: Stories From the Special Delivery Unit,” the acclaimed public-television series that emerged from Raleigh’s Trailblazer Studios last year, has won an Emmy Award.

It happened at Wednesday night’s 37th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards presentation in New York City. And it adds to the resume of co-producer/Triangle resident Bonnie Cutler-Shear. This is her first Emmy since one for outstanding craft editing back in 2001.

First presented in three episodes in April 2015, “Twice Born” depicts dramatic high-risk pre-natal surgery on unborn babies at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Up until the moment it was announced as the winner for “Outstanding Science and Technology Programming,” however, Cutler-Shear was sure they wouldn’t win.

“I did not put any sort of notes or speech together because I was convinced we had no chance,” she said Thursday morning. “We were up against more standard science programming, and ours is a little outside the mold of what they usually vote for. Then when they announced us, I was, ‘Oh God, what am I gonna say?!’”

Perhaps that accounts for a moment of minor embarrassment, in which Cutler-Shear identified Durham as Trailblazer’s hometown before correcting that to Raleigh.

“I live in Durham, is why that happened,” she said with a laugh. “Of course, when you’re up there in the bright lights, your heart is beating so fast from the pressure – besides the fact that the high heels were killing me. Also, I’m an editor, used to sitting alone in a little room. Being in the spotlight is disconcerting.”

The Emmy actually wasn’t the only award “Twice Born” won on Wednesday. Earlier in the evening, it also won a SMASH Award (Science Media Awards & Summit in the Hub) in the “Health & Medicine” category.

“We had someone else accept that one for us because we wanted to show our face at the Emmys,” Cutler-Shear said. “And an hour before we won the Emmy, we got a text: ‘You won!’ And I thought, ‘Maybe we do have a chance. … Nah, we don’t.’”

Watch Cutler-Shear and Monica Lange’s acceptance speeches below; and see a story from when “Twice Born” aired last year here.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi