Emmy Dispatch: Gifting Suites, Red Carpets & Afterparties
BY JEFFREY SLONIM
Julie Bowen backstage at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards
Aldous Huxley couldn't have dreamed up the superheated tribulations Dispatches endured for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards weekend on the left coast. Journalists dropped like flies on the scorching Emmys red carpet; coifs nearly combusted on the sun-drenched roof atop The London West Hollywood hotel during a BAFTA tea; and sweat was running in rivulets down famous faces at the History Channel bash for Hatfields & McCoys.
It began early Friday when Dispatches ominously read In-Flight Entertainment, a new book of short stories by Helen Simpson, during an early-morning flight to Los Angeles from JFK. The title story has a first class passenger grousing about global warming when a fellow passenger croaks. The plot seemed ominous at the time, the flight less so. Although, on Sunday, I would witness a fellow journalist whisked away in a wheelchair stretcher on account of the Death Valley temperatures on the Emmy red carpet. Allegedly, count ‘em, 14 individuals succumbed to the heat. Read on...
September 21, dateline Beverly Hills. On Friday, a relatively chill evening, both my events took place at the newish Montage Beverly Hills hotel on North Canon. On my way into Heifer International’s "Beyond Hunger: A Place at the Table" charity event, Dispatches noticed two llamas in the hotel courtyard, set up as a kind of photo op for guests. Over cocktails on the bucolic rooftop courtyard, I talked to Ted Danson and his wife, Mary Steenburgen, who’d hosted a Heifer event at their house previously. "And I'm looking out the kitchen window, and I see a baby water buffalo walking by," mentioned Steenburgen. Heifer supporters donate animals and livestock to people in underdeveloped rural areas around the globe.
Christina Hendricks and Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston at the Variety and Women in Film pre-Emmy party
Downstairs, just past the llamas, Variety and Women in Film's starry pre-Emmy bash was presented by Saint Vintage jewelry at Scarpetta. I spotted more than a few Breaking Bad cast members, and just as many from Mad Men and other beloved primetime shows: Christina Hendricks, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Betsy Brandt, Jennie Garth (showing much cleavage) and a demure Allison Williams. Bryan Cranston, a late arrival, was gunning for his fourth Emmy on Sunday (he didn't win). It was hard to pause and actually throw back a champers without missing the arrival of yet another Emmy contender rushing in from a previous fête.
By midnight I was starving. Grabbing a burger at Five Guys, I ran into Bruce Vilanch, famous for writing decades of Oscar-night patter.
Swag Bagging at The Emergen-C Gift Lounge
The next morning, I hit 10 East to the 110 to catch The Emergen-C Gift Lounge backstage at the Nokia Theatre, where stars were rehearsing for the big show. I stopped at The Pantry, a dive breakfast joint near the theatre, for a heavenly sourdough toast with bacon-and-egg special and a giant iced coffee.
Getting through security at Nokia was like The Poseidon Adventure. However, in the labyrinth of stairs and hallways, there were breathtaking views of the stage and auditorium—the heart of Emmyland. (By the way, designer Derek Lam did a hip job decorating the Emmy green room.) The gifting lounge was directly across from Jimmy Kimmel’s dressing room. And on a later trip to the loo, escorted like a star by a leggy handler in a headset, I ran into Kimmel himself, wearing a big red bathrobe and patent leather shoes.
It turned out that red carpet reporter Micah Jesse, who I’d seen on the plane ride in, now in a cape and holding a sparkly Roman shield, was hosting the Emergen-C gifting suite.
Padma Lakshmi and Michah Jesse and Elisabeth Moss at the Emergen-C Gift Lounge Backstage at The Nokia Theatre
The celebs all dutifully listened to spiels at various booths around the perimeter of the lounge in order to load up on swag, including Zerona laser body-sculpting treatments and Aquaswiss watches. New Balance was giving out its colorful Minimus 1010 shoes, newly minted, for hiking in the hills. Black & Decker displayed Platinum Hand Vacs, which were sucking up small piles of M&Ms and nuts to wow the stars.
I spotted Archie Panjabi, Brooke Burke Charvet, Connie Britton, Elisabeth Moss, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Jimmy Fallon. Kat Dennings and her beau, Nick Zano, posed for New Era Cap Co. Paper Denim & Cloth had a rack of styling duds. Goodwin noticed her hit ABC series on the TiVo Premiere 4 DVR television screen and offered sweetly, "I don't mind watching myself."
Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy said her favorite Emergen-C flavor was orange. And she angled for a Black & Decker Platinum Hand Vac, interjecting, "I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old.”
Mario Lopez made a big oops when he accidentally yanked the Emergen-C phone booth receiver out of its socket.
Tea with BAFTA and a Moment with Kevin Costner
At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dispatches attended the BAFTA Los Angeles TV Tea on the rooftop of The London West Hollywood hotel, formerly the Bel Age Hotel (where I used to stay in the ’80s). The burning-down sun at the poolside tea service foretold the brutal heat at Sunday’s Emmys. My buddy Russ, with Hollywood Life, wisely went on a Gatorade run as we waited for our fellow guests to show their famous faces. Angelenos know the risks of sunstroke.
Stephen Moyer and Aarron Paul at the BAFTA Los Angeles TV Tea
Jacqueline Bisset was really sweet when she arrived, mentioning that people don't bug her as much on planes, as she doesn't have any hot pictures out these days. Mad Men’s recently departed Brit, Jared Harris, was sporting some mismatched-on-purpose patterns, while Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul kept it simple with a grey suit and tie and black shoes. And all of Downton Abbey stopped by for the amazing teacakes, but understandably, BAFTA opted out of their standard dessert spread in the melting heat.
Later that night, thanks to my mistaking the date of The Art of Elysium benefit, which had actually happened the night before, I was the only print journalist to arrive at Soho House in time for the History Channel's pre-Emmy fête for Hatfields & McCoys. Black velvet curtains shrouded a major press klatch in a backroom of the hotel’s basement garage.
They say the photographers in New York are animals; in Los Angeles, they look like the well-kept animals of Westwood. One heavyset woman photog was catcalling drooling comments at Kevin Costner and Tom Berenger (both Emmy-winners on Sunday).
Costner has a beautiful, relatively new wife. Sweat poured down my face as he told me how proud he is of all the attention the series has gotten. But isn't his star power a big draw? "Well, you hope you've picked up a following along the way," he said humbly.
Meanwhile, Jena Malone, who’s also in Hatfields, as well as the second installment of The Hunger Games, wore hot pants, platforms, and a colorful blouse. It would have seemed insane on any other night, but while other sweaty stars had to be patted down between every photo, Jena looked fresh in the swampy heat.
Basting in Emmyland: Red Carpet Casualties and Bright Hot Fashion
Emmy Awards Sunday, I arrived hours early with a gold embossed parking pass and felt like 007 as I motored up in my rental Mazda and was waved through closed roads. After a bomb squad inspection of my rental and a TSA-like security check, I followed a maze of red-carpeted passages bordered by tall chain link. The broad Emmy red carpet appeared bright and inviting—until I stepped into the open sun. It felt like the hair-dryer breath of Death Valley in August, only intensified by a quarter-mile of television lights.
I had an admirable mid-carpet spot with bench seating behind me, but once I got settled, I realized I could only last a few minutes in the angry sunlight. My hair felt steamy and my concentration was drifting. With survival in mind, I trekked into downtown Los Angeles to seek out an umbrella. Medics, poised for triage in the event of a collapse, had camped out across from my spot when I returned.
Shortly after the carpet opened (after 2:30 p.m.), I witnessed a sobbing female reporter in a long dress being whisked away in an upright wheelchair stretcher by paramedics.
A friend of mine was interviewing an actor from Breaking Bad when his daughter swooned and melted onto the carpet. Thud. Two journalists next to her dropped at her sides. In all, 14 attendees were said to have been felled, and that number may or may not have included the tony woman in spiked heels who entered the air-conditioned lobby and keeled over backwards.
Jessica Pare and Zooey Deschanel at the 64th Primetime Emmys
Meanwhile, even in the dire heat, the display of fabulous gowns on the carpet was spectacular. Lucy Liu shimmered in a silver Versace dress that resembled armor. Zooey Deschanel wore a fluffy blue cloud by Reem Acra. Orange ribbons had been elegantly woven by Monique Lhuillier into Ginnifer Goodwin's enormous sheer crinolines. Nicole Kidman sparkled with a spray of blue crystals on the front of her white Antonio Berardi gown. And Mad Men’s Jessica Paré had on a white dress by Jason Wu—she called him a genius—with a bright red lip that he apparently suggested. She looked so pale and pretty that I reached out to shield her with the umbrella as we spoke.
Jane Krakowski wore a Kaufman Franco crystal-beaded dress that sparkled like lasers in the sun. We laughed when she mentioned that it was like "one of those tanning reflectors from the ’60s" and that I might shrivel and crisp as I spoke to her.
Nearly matching in the fluorescent banana color of the night was Julianne Moore wearing Dior Couture, Claire Danes in Lanvin, and Julie Bowen in Monique Lhuillier.
Julie Bowen, Claire Danes, and Julianne Moore at the 64th Primetime Emmys
I held up my umbrella over Heidi Klum, who leaned in, wearing an ethereal, slit-up-to-there Alexandre Vauthier gown in seafoam.
Girls star Allison Williams wore Oscar de la Renta. She is so smart, she knew everything about him. Like her dad, Brian Williams, she had done her homework.
Michelle Dockery from Downton Abbey had on a rich blue Louis Vuitton gown that looked as if it could have been Edwardian. And Martha Plimpton's gown had been created for her at the last minute by Christian Siriano, who she labeled "a latter-day Balenciaga." He nailed it.
We were all post-sauna giddy by the time the carpet coverage was completed, women with their makeup melted, men's hair disheveled in dry sweat.
Fortunately, the vast press area backstage was crisply air-conditioned. I ran into Julianne Moore, my high school gal pal of ten minutes, and her husband, Bart Freundlich. Moore, who won for her amazing portrayal of Sarah Palin in Game Change, looked picture perfect. The golden wings of her Emmy shone against her brilliant yellow dress. And she and Bart looked so happy. "She's deserved to win so many times," said Bart, nodding as I gushed.
Lena Dunham and Allison Williams at the HBO post-awards show reception
At the HBO afterparty (where I was told the tent alone cost $1 million), Sofia Vergara was hand-in-hand with her fiancé, Nick Loeb. They've been through so much—his horrible car accident, a breakup. And now they're engaged. They said they'd recently vacationed in Newport, Rhode Island.
Lena Dunham had her famous parents, Laurie Simmons and artist Carroll Dunham, in tow. As they were leaving early, around midnight, Lena quipped, "We're doing an early-bird special."
Williams, who I ran into a lot during Fashion Week, called me over to her table just to chat. Jimmy Fallon, who calls me "buddy," then stopped Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, for a convo. Fellowes was standing beside his very tall wife, Emma, in a turban. She’s the great grandniece of Herbert Kitchener, the 1st Earl Kitchener.
And there was a klatch with a star who shall go nameless, Padma Lakshmi, and a friend of hers. I happened to overhear them talking about Kanye West and Kim Kardashian moving into a certain building that everyone but Padma lived in. It was a panicked conversation: "What are you going to do?"
The star was clear: "I'm definitely staying."
On the red-eye back to JFK, as the power on my laptop waned, I noticed Joe Zee working his Blackberry in business class. I couldn't wait to ask if he, too, had been burning up on the carpet.
Photography via gettyimages.com by Kevin Winter (Bowden, Backstage); Valerie Macon (GUNN); Michael Tran (Hendricks); Frazer Harrison (MOYER); Jeff Kravitz (PARE, MOORE); Steve Granitz (DESCHANEL); JASON MERRITT (BOWEN, RED CARPET); JEFF VESPA (DANES); MICHAEL BUCKNER (DUNHAM); WILLIAMS (FILMMAGIC)