Even if the Governors Ball, the official post-Emmy Awards fete, got snubbed en masse by the A-crowd (shades of Oscar night), a few thousand people braved the elbow-to-elbow throng inside the cavernous Pasadena Convention Center--if only to refuel and move on.
"I just want something wet. Club soda," Terry Grossman, who had just collected her Emmy for producing "The Golden Girls," said with a sigh as she headed toward the bar Sunday night. "It's been four hours." Next stop: the Columbia Bar & Grill, to join up with the rest of "The Golden Girls" celebrants.
The "Promise" contingent, including James Garner, director Glenn Jordan and writer Richard Friedenberg, arrived at the official Emmy party and briefly piled their statuettes on a cramped little dinner table before exiting for Matteo's. "We're out of here," Friedenberg said.
"Can you see why?" Garner asked. "There's more people than there are tables. You can't sit down and talk to anybody. Anyhow, we had planned our little get-together win or lose."
Garner was only stating the obvious. The Governors Ball was once a sit-down dinner with assigned tables, but three years ago a top executive of a major studio heard where his tables were going to be located and vociferously complained, threatening to withdraw his studio's support of Academy of Television Arts & Sciences activities unless the tables were upgraded. On that occasion they were, but ever since the dinners have been seat-yourself buffets. Tables are now reserved only for academy governors; everyone else fends for himself, while balancing a little plastic plate of food and searching for a chair.
"I'm starved. I have stood in every line and I haven't had a thing to eat," said an exhausted Howie Mandel. "It's like being at the bank and there's one teller and it's noon on Friday. I think the rule is: Don't go for anything there's no long line for. It can't be wonderful."
Of course, there's no substitute for experience. After three years of this, John Larroquette of "Night Court" has clearly developed a technique: He quickly locates two empty chairs for him and his wife--and marks the spot with his Emmy (for best supporting actor on a comedy series).
"Part of our group went off to a private party," quipped Chris Elliott, one of 13 writers awarded Emmys for "Late Night With David Letterman." "This is the nerd part of the group--we weren't invited." And David Letterman, where was he? "Him and the governor don't get along."
Before heading off to Spago ("We're a real trendy kind of group," said Corbin Bernsen, sipping Jack Daniels on the rocks), the "L.A. Law" ensemble convened at the bar. "I had to see the Governors Ball," Jill Eikenberry said. "Is this like a legendary great party? I'm new. . . . It's very large. It's hard to imagine working the room. It's gigantic." Then, turning to her husband, Michael Tucker, she said, "You know, we ought to go. . . ."
Others were packing it in because there were early morning calls the next day--more television to churn out.
Don Mischer, who was toting two Emmys (directing "The Kennedy Center Honors" and executive producing "The Tony Awards"), ate some chili and rushed home. "I'm in the middle of editing the new Dolly Parton series," he said. "When I go home, there will be three videotapes on my front door for me to screen and then I meet at 8 in the morning with the editors. I'm afraid I can't relax and enjoy this very much."