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Red carpet reality

Fans at the Shrine greet A-listers and newcomers with equal fervor as the Emmys bid farewell to three beloved sitcoms.

September 20, 2004|Mary McNamara | Times Staff Writer

The cast of "The Amazing Race" entered the red carpet Sunday on the wrong side; they followed the rest of the proletariat up the non-VIP aisle and had to be turned back. Two hours later, they would win an Emmy for reality series. That's the sort of evening it was.

Under an unforgivingly bright sun that left celebrities squinting behind their sunglasses and illuminated the outlines of even the best foundation garments, a remarkably diverse group of bedfellows made their way past the photographers and up the red carpet canyon to meet their fate.

Reality television stars passed Emmy staffers who murmured, "Who is that? Does anyone know who that is?" The crowd gathered outside the Shrine Auditorium for the 56th annual Emmy Award show knew however; they chanted names: "Ty!" (Pennington from "Extreme Makeover") and then "Brandon!" and "Nicole!" (from "The Amazing Race"). Barbara Walters waved to cheering fans; she and Diane Sawyer were the only journalists on the carpet who weren't working. Donald Trump, sporting a comb-over that began somewhere in Huntington Beach, blinked in seeming disbelief that Kiefer Sutherland would elicit more attention than he would. Tall and lovely softball star Jenny Finch and her fellow Olympians left people smiling in that You're-so-beautiful-you-must-be-famous-but-what-for? kind of way.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday September 21, 2004 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Emmys -- An article on the Emmy Awards in Monday's Calendar section incorrectly identified "bowling moms" Linda and Karen as having lost in "The Amazing Race" reality series. They are still contestants.

Meanwhile, A-listers including Glenn Close, Ron Howard and Anjelica Huston sidled through the crowd with little more than nods and smiles.

The multiple nominations of HBO's star-studded "Angels in America" blurred the lines between Oscar, Emmy and even Tony. Some stars excited even a jaded Hollywood crowd. "When I see Al Pacino, my life will be complete," one publicist was heard to say.

And seeing Meryl Streep standing in front of the same cameras that minutes before had been trained on the star of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" pretty much summed up the state of modern television -- which is to say, nobody knows what's going on, except that the sitcom is in pretty big trouble. Indeed, the stars of "Sex and the City," "Frasier" and "Friends," all of which aired their final episodes this year, arrived fashionably late and were greeted with the ecstatic enthusiasm of an early Bruce Springsteen audience. In a way, it was anticlimactic, like watching the senior class president show up in the cafeteria the week after graduation.

Perhaps the question of the night was: What will the fans do without their beloved Sarah Jessica Parker and company strutting down the red carpet in impeccable couture? There was also something undeniably poignant about watching Matthew Broderick once again sidestep his way out of the picture as his wife threw her arms around costar Kristin Davis.

When it comes to ensemble couture, maybe the "Queer Eye" guys could fill in. They have the same chorus line appeal and the same boundless enthusiasm for wearing evening clothes at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. "Three years ago, I thought this show would never get on the air," said Ted Allen, who teaches straight men how to cook. "Now we've won an Emmy, so the hard part's over," he said referring to the Emmy Award given Sept. 12 for outstanding reality program, "so now we have to make sure we don't fall down."

Or maybe that "Amazing Race" cast could do it. "We can't believe it," said Linda, one of the self-described "bowling moms" who lost the race. "We are now the coolest moms ever. I told my daughter I was going to the Emmys and she said, 'Shut up!' "

Linda and her "Race" partner Karen and the rest of the contestants arrived early and stood dutifully in line for their 15 minutes of fame, while Larry David, one of the more experienced Emmy types, chomped on a piece of gum, declined to do any TV interviews and seemed surprised that anyone expected him to stand for pictures. Maybe "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is closer to reality TV than previously believed.

As the minutes ticked down to show time, it suddenly seemed as if the big screen would eclipse the little one. Pacino hijacked the crowd for the two minutes he stood waving, and it's hard to compete with Streep, even when she's walking quickly as if determined not to steal Jennifer Garner's thunder. (Movie star power still carries weight; when Pacino won his Emmy, there was no musical hook to pull him off.)

But in the end, television ruled. Jennifer Aniston showed up and everyone else was forgotten. Sleek and gleaming as Emmy and Oscar themselves, Aniston (along with husband Brad Pitt) ruled the red carpet.

Sharon Stone showed up just behind them and the crowd barely noticed.



Wins by show

"Angels in America"...11


"Arrested Development"...5


"The Sopranos"...4


"The Practice"...3

"Something the Lord Made"...3

"American Masters"...3

"A&E in Concert"...3


Wins by network

HBO: 32

NBC: 8

PBS: 7

Fox: 10

ABC: 7

A&E: 4

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