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City of Angles

Emmy Overtime

November 06, 2001|GINA PICCALO and LOUISE ROUG | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

We knew it was a new day in televised awards shows when a starlet on the red carpet asked a fashion maven, "Is this too much cleavage?" And that was hours before the LAPD took over the Century Plaza Hotel.

With Game 7 of the World Series going down to the wire, even Emmy host Ellen DeGeneres in a homage-to-Bjork swan dress couldn't keep the guests from sneaking out to the Shubert Theatre lobby to catch the game on TV monitors near the exits.

"Malcolm in the Middle" star Bryan Cranston was glued to the tube, while inside the theater, his co-star, Jane Kaczmarek, glowed over her husband, "West Wing" co-star Bradley Whitford, who won a statuette for best supporting actor in a drama. Meanwhile, "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin commandeered an ashtray on the smoking patio.

Three hours later, the Emmy audience (many of whom defined the "business attire" dress code as skimpy sequined gowns minus the jewels) hoofed through the ABC Entertainment Center to the hotel next door.

After a pass through metal detectors, the guests headed down to the ballroom, where they were greeted by the pop of champagne bottles, red and lavender roses and dozens of uniformed and plainclothes police officers standing sentinel.

Among the first to arrive was Emmy nominee Stanley Tucci, who was promptly turned away from the bar (in the interest of getting people seated for dinner), inspiring his pregnant companion, his sister Christine, to point to martini glasses and wine bottles on ice and shout, "What is this? Just for decoration?"

Later, roaming camera crews and entertainment journalists launched into the party, hovering over the "Will & Grace" table long enough to catch star and Emmy winner Eric McCormack in a lip lock with co-star Sean Hayes.

Perhaps that's why "Six Feet Under" star Peter Krause cringed when we approached. "Who do you write for?" he asked even before the first question crossed our lips. "OK," he said. "Go ahead." So much for small talk.

Meanwhile, New York Fire Department Lt. Thomas Woods, who flew in to represent his Midtown Manhattan Ladder Co. 2, stood in a corner with his white-gloved hands crossed formally. "It's an honor to be here," he said.

And was he impressed by the high celebrity quotient? Not really. "We've kind of gotten a little used to it."

Vulcan With a Cause

Spock spent a career in space. And, as it turns out, the ultimate frontier is also where he puts his money.

On a recent Sunday, Spock, a.k.a. Leonard Nimoy, and his wife, Susan, hosted a barbecue for 150 at the Griffith Observatory. The afternoon event raised money for Friends of the Observatory and the planned expansion of the 66-year-old landmark.

Nimoy has been fascinated with the Mt. Hollywood observatory for more than half a century, since he first visited as a teenager in 1950.

"There's something really warm and welcoming about it," said Nimoy by landline last week. "Visiting feels like slipping into a comfortable shoe."

Technology tycoon Henri Samueli is among the high-profile donors who have decided to endow the project. Samueli picked the sun telescope, which will bear his name. The Nimoy family has donated $1 million for a lecture hall and theater, which will be named the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater.

"Space technology is a perfect fit for Leonard," said Susan Nimoy before being interrupted by her enthusiastic husband, a card-carrying member of SETI, the institute that searches for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Despite his long career on the Starship Enterprise, however, space is just a hobby. "I'm not a scientist--I'm in the arts," Nimoy said. But gazing at the stars, "I get this extraordinary rush--an experience of our place in space," Nimoy said. "It's magical."

The observatory renovation begins early next year.

Song for a Sultan

Lalo Schifrin, composer of such classics as the "Mission Impossible" score, is making music for the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said Al Said.

"I admit I didn't know anything about the music of Oman," Schifrin said last week in a phone interview from London, where he was finishing the recording of "Symphonic Impressions of Oman" with the London Symphony Orchestra.

After visiting the country, however, he got "very good vibes about the whole thing."

Last year, Omani representatives approached the composer with a commission for the symphony celebrating Oman. The country of 2.6 million is slightly smaller than Kansas and situated between Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.

Schifrin initially dedicated his music to the sultan, but after Sept. 11, he decided it should also be dedicated to the people who died in the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.

The Argentina-born composer said, at a time like this, music can bridge the gap between East and West.

"Music can bring people together," Schifrin said. "We all belong to the human race."

Sightings

Nicolas Cage, who played an opera-loving baker in "Moonstruck," and Lisa Marie Presley paid a surprise visit to Placido Domingo's dressing room during intermission at Sunday's performance of "La Traviata" at the Los Angeles Opera. Domingo is conducting the final three performances of "La Traviata," which closes on Saturday.

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