Emmy Parties: Tough Assignment
Immediately after the Primetime Emmy orgy of trophy dispensing at the [Cell Phone Company] Theater in downtown Los Angeles wrapped on Sunday, The Reporters Who Cover Television began to pack outside the Fox party at Cicada, which was the closest to the theater.
"We're not letting people in yet," the party planners told WaPo TeamTV Emmy Party correspondent Ashley Surdin. This is Hollywood-speak for "We're not letting you in until celebrities arrive."
First to arrive: Emmy-nominated Kiefer Sutherland who, no, did not get passed over for best actor in a drama series for last season's star turn in the network's "24." He got passed over for his star turn in Fox's TV movie "24: Redemption." In that category he had in heady company that had included Kenneth Branagh, winner Brendan Gleeson, Ian McKellen, Kevin Bacon, and Kevin Kline who, for reasons yet to be explained, looked pained every time the camera cut to him during the entire three-hour Emmycast. Kline seemed to be the show producer's go-to guy every time he wanted a shot that registered Unhappiness.
Back to the parties: Kiefer's quick dash into the restaurant magically unhinged the velvet barriers at Fox's party, and Ashley entered a world of 1930s jazz music, gold velvet chaise lounges, and satin tables topped with pyramids of champagne glasses and red rose petals. It looked like a Valentine's episode of "The Bachelor."
Kiefer made a beeline for the bar and danced a short jig as he waited for his drink. He had put on dark glasses, which he had not been wearing outside, but which seemed to signal he was getting down to the business of drinking in earnest.
Ashley circled the room a couple times to take stock of her celebrity choices. There seemed to be none. Wait, really? There must be others. "No," a caterer informed her, "only Kiefer."
She circled back to Kiefer, now seated at a table and surrounded by a Great Wall of Humanity so thick not even Jack Bauer could extract him.
"Are you with Kiefer?" she asked a woman who seemed to be one of the few who could penetrate the Great Wall of Humanity.
No, the woman said -- she's with Fox network. "Kiefer is talking to his bosses right now," the woman said sternly.
The Great Wall grew thicker as more and more people tried to catch a glimpse of the only celebrity of record yet to arrive. Servers became disoriented in the crush. "Ahi tuna with wasabi cavier?" one asked, for the third time in five minutes.
The human riptide somehow spit Ashley out by a dinner station, where Seth Green celebrated PDA [public displays of affection] with his leggy blonde date. This is the seventh party he's been to this year, he told Ashley, proudly.
"It's been brutal," Green explained, as a server asked how big of a slab of filet mignon he wanted with his mashed potatoes. He pointed to a big chunk already sliced on the cutting board. Ashley was touched when Seth told her he'd probably wind up the night taking off his socks and watching TiVo. He obviously did not think much of his prospects with his date.
The appearance of Seth MacFarlane on the red carpet arrested Ashley as she was half way to the parking lot. She repositioned herself near the entrance, batted a comely eyelash and waved as he walked by, pretending they knew each other. Clever Ashley! MacFarlane, rose to the bait and began to talk about his animated Fox series "Family Guy's" nomination for best comedy series, and how he had expected to lose all along, blah, blah, blah, while Ashley nodded sympathetically. Asked why he expected his show to lose all along, MacFarlane began to ramble:
"You know, we were the first animated series to be nominated in 50 years - we're like Geraldine Ferraro," MacFarlane says, not realizing Ashley had been busy learning how to talk in full sentences and mastering potty training when then congresswoman ran for vice president of the United States and might not get the gag.
While Ashley feigned interest in his metaphor, out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Kiefer breaking through The Great Wall and sneaking away.
"Well, I hope we're not like Geraldine Ferraro," MacFarlane continues to blah, blah, blah obviously. "Then we'll never win."
"If we had won, Jamie Kennedy was going to storm the stage and say 'The Simpsons' had the best season," MacFarlane added, beaming -- not realizing that was the 18th Kanye West joke Ashley had heard already on Emmy night.
As he laughed, enjoying the dead horse that was his joke, Fox handlers began to flank MacFarlane like those evil soul-sucking Dementors that kept making such nuisances of themselves in those "Harry Potter" movies (or so Ashley assures us).
"We really must take him now," they admonished Ashley with their eyes wide.
Next stop: Comedy Central's party in West Hollywood, where snazzle-dazzle attire has given way to whatever-wear. Jeans are spotted. There's a man in flannel. Is that a zipper-down collar?
Here, instead of high-priced Dementors, the press is separated from celebrities the economical way: by keeping the venue extremely dark -- are we in a bar? A club? A haunted house? -- and the music deafeningly loud.
It seems to work. Or does it?
"No one's here," an Us Weekly reporter told us, revealing what the darkness is perhaps intended to hide. Have we missed anyone, we ask? Nope. It's been like that the whole night, the intrepid Us reporter, um, reported. She's standing against the wall, with the air of an expectant girl at a school dance. She tells us that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will surely arrive at some point.
A big screen TV encouragingly flashed giant snaps of Stewart and Colbert's faces, as if to say "They are coming!"
But a cold-mini burger and an hour later, as People Who Are Not on TV continue to take pictures of each other, we left.
It's exhausting searching for people who can't talk to you anyway.
Meanwhile, light years of hipness away, the traditional must-attend HBO party is going full-bore over at the grounds of the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, a portion of which has been transformed into the pay cable network's idea of a Paul Poiret party, we were informed by the charming guy who had made it all happen.
Poiret, FYI, was the pre-Coco Chanel clothing designer who called himself "The King of Fashion" and who, in the early part of the last century, is credited with "freeing" women from corsets by putting them instead into harem pantaloons, kimono coats, tunic tops that looked like lampshades, and other ridiculous outfits, including the so-called "hobble skirt" - you know, long-ish skirts that were so narrow at the bottom they impeded your ability to walk - but you looked terrific.Poiret also famously gave lavish parties at which people were told to dress in his stuff or go home.
HBO's interpretation of a Poiret party involved a huge translucent red plastic tent, which made you feel like you were the inside of a red mylar balloon. The inside of the tent was studded with topiary accented with red roses; in the center of the tent hung an enormous red chandelier-looking thing-gummy, and the floor was completely covered in black and white carpeting. The place was festooned with performers we were assured were supposed to be "Mongolian contortionists" and Cirque du Soleil flame dancers performed in the median strip of the road out front where limos were dropping off celebrities.
Musicians imported straight from Las Vegas performed on hydraulic lifts, singing impossible medleys of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"/ Pachelbel's "Canon in D Major,"/The Eurythmics's "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," while handsome young men stationed at a large round, Godiva-chocolate-laden station in the center of the mishegas explained the difference between the various Legacy Edition Godiva chocolates that "celebrate milestones Godiva's history."
And, around the party perimeter, female guests visited stations where they could have even more makeup applied to their faces, or their hair re-done.
A publicist informed us Jessica Lange, who had won the Emmy earlier in the night for her starring role in the HBO movie "Grey Gardens," was "very tired" but would consent to speak to us for a minute or two so that we could ask her to elaborate on her Emmy acceptance speech, about having trouble finding work at her age. Nothing new to report there. We kissed the ring and moved on.
Patricia Arquette could not be distracted from texting while seated at a banquette next to someone we highly suspected of being Penny Marshall and who could not have gazed at us with keener distaste if we had been a network executive turning down her terms.
We turned and scurried away, nearly tripping over Sally Field, who was glued to her cell phone.
TV power-couple Kyra Sedgwick & Kevin Bacon were too busy holding court at a plum table in the middle of the Mylar Tent of Poiret to be interrupted. And Gary Shandling -- whose Showtime series "It's Garry Shandling's Show" followed by his HBO series "The Larry Sanders Show" pioneered the whole See Celebrities Play/Mock Themselves School of Comedy is now a TV standard -- was having such a lovely time receiving well-wishers at his table on the fringe we didn't have the heart to interrupt.
Despite all this revelry, this year's HBO party seemed rather subdued. HBO execs were extremely gracious, as usual, but appeared to be harboring secret sorrow over this year's Emmy ceremony, which had opened with host Neil Patrick Harris singing an opening number in which he gave a musical shout-out to a slew of TV networks whose logos popped up on the set - but noticeably not including HBO. This seemed kind of odd, given that HBO had clocked a record 99 nominations this year.
Was this CBS's way of paying HBO back for deciding to launch its much ballyhooed It's-All-About-'Seinfeld' seventh-season debut of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" opposite CBS's Emmy broadcast? Was CBS getting back some of its own after HBO's executive veep David Baldwin had told trade paper Variety of CBS's annoyance over that counter-programming: "We don't even sidestep the Super Bowl. This whole Sturm und Drang is 1980s thinking in the 21st century."
Posted by: MARTYFLYONTHEWALL | September 21, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse
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