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City of Angles

Sawdust and Glitter

September 20, 2002|GINA PICCALO AND LOUISE ROUG

A small gasp escaped the tidy crowd of interior designers and architects as workers assembled the green room for the 54th Annual Emmy Awards backstage at the Shrine Auditorium. "It's the unrolling of the Sotheby's carpet!" whispered one man from Architectural Digest. (The magazine enlisted a New York firm to design the room.) "It's insured for $60,000."

Here, on this antique Persian rug, on mocha-colored sofas in this largely beige room (sea grass carpets, grass cloth walls and a 19th century Japanese screen), Sunday night's Emmy presenters and performers will pass time before their cues. Outside, the stage was crawling with denim-clad workers and the hall echoed with the whine of a table saw. Occasionally a Steely Dan song burst from speakers overhead, filling the cavernous hall. "It's beautiful in here, huh?" one woman said. The Shrine's hardwood floors shone, the ceiling paintings looked more vivid and the whole place (built circa 1926) smelled new, thanks to a recent, $3-million renovation.

Beyond the stage, a few women carefully placed name cards on some of the auditorium's 6,200 red velvet seats. Proximity to the front of the room, as always, delineated status. Ellen DeGeneres' card sat in the third row, while those for Laura Linney and Jimmy Smits sat in the eighth. Alec Baldwin's card sat in the fourth row, with Anjelica Huston's behind him in the fifth. Producers for "Everybody Loves Raymond" were posted in several rows closer to the stage than those for HBO's "Six Feet Under."

Downstairs, the women's restrooms were being redesigned by Lancome's crew, complete with glowing makeup mirrors, lipstick and powder bars and a makeup artist. "If Lancome was a woman, this would be her powder room," a spokeswoman said. On Emmy night, a visit to the ladies room means a professional touch-up and, of course, a gift bag.

But glamour is transient. And by Monday evening, it will have rolled up its rug, hovering in wait for its next stop in this long, long season of awards, ceremonies, fabulous free gifts....

Paul and Brian Show

Everyone was on their feet, and even seemingly disaffected celebrities such as actors David Spade and Owen Wilson were dancing in the aisles and singing along. "How often at concerts does everyone know all the words to all the songs?" one woman shouted to an acquaintance. But because the evening's performers were Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson, familiarity was a given.

For about two hours Wednesday night, in front of an adoring crowd of about 900 at the Century Plaza Hotel, McCartney and Wilson performed individual sets that featured their hits--etched in the brain over 30 years. The show, which also featured a brief acoustic set by Stephen Stills, was a fund-raiser for "Adopt-A-Minefield," a charity that McCartney's wife, Heather Mills, has supported for nearly three years, and tickets cost up to $1,000. (Wednesday's event raised $750,000 for the group, which organizes mine clearance and survivor assistance.)

McCartney performed one new tune, written for "my beautiful bride." It was an upbeat piece, but the lyrics-- featuring lines such as "Tell me how to reach your love" and "What am I gonna do without you?"--didn't jibe with the public image of his marriage.

During Wilson's protracted vocal set, someone shouted out, "Genius!" And just before McCartney performed "Blackbird," another fan cried: "Run for president!" The former Beatle wagged his finger at the man and said: "Now that's silly. You know it's silly."

Rubbing Shoulders

"I hit the phones in a panic," said Sir Howard Stringer as he stood outside the ballroom on another evening at the Century Plaza. Working the phones, Stringer would remind friends of the quid pro quo of fund-raising: "I've done this for you."

"Your worst fear is that no one shows up," he said. "I don't want to be in a ballroom all alone."

As chairman and CEO of Sony Corp. of America, he needn't have worried. On Tuesday night, the hotel was teeming with Sony suits who had come for the annual Dinner of Champions--an evening to honor Stringer for his time on the phone raising funds for multiple sclerosis research. It was also, of course, another chance for networking.

Tom Sherak, a partner in Revolution Studios and chairman of the dinner, made his way down the red carpet.

"The industry just gives and gives and gives," he said, with no trace of irony. He was interrupted by a man who had something to give. "Hey, handsome," he greeted Sherak, with a handshake and a macho air kiss.

On the red carpet, Tom Arnold faced a dilemma: More face time with a camera crew or pay his respects to the Sony head honcho? He decided to throw himself into Stringer's arms.

Then Bill Pullman made his way past the cameras. He had noticed the prevalence of suits. "Hey, it's Sony Corp.," he said. "Maybe it's all their compassionate men."

Sightings:

A divine fashion statement: The Inland Invasion punk music festival last Saturday in Devore offered plenty of tattered shirts, piercings and Dickies, but the best shirt of the day belonged to Dexter Holland, the Offspring lead singer: "Even Jesus hates Creed."

*

City of Angles runs Tuesday and Friday. E-mail angles@la times.com.

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