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THE EMMYS | THE CELEBRATIONS

After the ceremony, it was jazz bands, chandeliers dripping light, red carpets, yellow carpets, elegant food.

September 23, 2002|GINA PICCALO and LOUISE ROUG | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

After Sunday's 54th annual Emmy Awards, hundreds of guests filed into an enormous two-story ballroom next to the Shrine Auditorium for the Governors Ball, hosted by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

A jazz band played television show theme songs from a balcony as the crowd moved through the palatial room decorated in navy and silver. Scores of tables were set with lobster salads. Giant glittering silver chandeliers hung from the ceiling to the tabletops.

At the table for the cast of HBO's Emmy-nominated "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which lost to NBC's "Friends," the mood was quiet; one of the stars was overhead saying, "I didn't want to go up there anyway."

Ellen DeGeneres, who hosted the Emmys last year, made her way through the crowd, chatting with friends and fans along the way. One man shouted out to her, "Will you have my children?" Her response: "I have to think about that."

At a table near the entrance, the very pregnant Cynthia Nixon from HBO's "Sex and the City" stopped to nibble on salad before cutting out for another party. Camera crews made their way through the tables looking for stars, but at 9 p.m. most of the A-listers were still doing interviews. The Osbourne teens were spotted and Oprah Winfrey was reportedly somewhere inside the party.

While some made the Governors Ball their destination, others--in lines of limos and chauffeured cars--made their way to the half-dozen celebrations across town.

Last year, the award show was rescheduled twice in response to Sept. 11, and most networks decided to forgo throwing the usual parties. Award winners and nominees instead attended a subdued celebration at the Century Plaza Hotel.

This year, however, the network parties, like black tie and slinky dresses, were back.

It was an art nouveau dream at the HBO party at Spago in Beverly Hills, where early guests watched the East Coast feed of the awards show. Inside a massive tent set up behind the restaurant, 200 waiters were ready to serve drinks in gold-rimmed glasses to the 1,400 expected guests.

Party planner Billy Butchkavitz spent six months organizing the event--his interpretation of Park Guell, the spectacularly tiled park in Barcelona, Spain, designed and built in the early 20th century by Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi.

The tent was awash in roses and fountains and gold velvet. Tables were decorated with sheer embroidered fabrics from India. Guests sat on serpentine couches covered in gold ultra-suede. Guests stepped onto a yellow carpet instead of the traditional red one.

Steven Spielberg and Larry King were among the first to arrive after the show. "Spago's got great food, probably the best place for a party," King said in what could have been a plug for Wolfgang Puck. The talk show host added conspiratorially, "I live five minutes away. It's been a long day."

Twentieth Century Fox Television, which last year did not throw a party, this year took over Morton's restaurant in West Hollywood.

About 50 valets lined Robertson Boulevard, ready to take cars from arriving stars, who then made their way on the red carpet past reporters; inside, executives and stars lounged on suede couches around the mirrored bar. Snacks and appetizers--strips of sirloin on mashed potatoes served in martini glasses--were handed out by waiters.

"Entertainment Tonight" and the "Frasier" crew commandeered the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood. At "E.T.'s" party, sponsored by Glamour magazine, a 360-degree camera projected shots of guests onto giant screens around the hotel's SkyBar.

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