Sure, Kelsey Grammer was wandering around with golden validation, and rumor had it that Sarah Jessica Parker was there with her Emmy statuette too.
But at the Mondrian, where "Entertainment Tonight" and People magazine hosted their gala Sunday night, the spotlight was trained on Amy Scholsohn and Bruce Milam Jr., would-be reality stars who were brought to the show blindfolded.
"I'm just a regular guy," said Milam. "This is a dream." He paused for his Kodak moment, getting comfortable with the 15 minutes. "Oh, hi, Diana," he said, as Diana Ross sauntered by. "Hi," she responded, flashing her pearly whites.
The two, who had tried out and been rejected for "Extreme Makeover," were brought to Los Angeles and told they were going to be in a "new reality show."
Picked up at their hotel and blindfolded, they found themselves introducing the award for outstanding reality series.
The two just thought they were going out to dinner, Milam told anyone who would listen, and on this night, many would.
"I met Al Pacino -- he said, 'You looked good!' " said Milam, a 26-year-old aroma therapist from Illinois, who was wearing a white cap, tan slacks and jacket. Scholsohn, who just graduated from college in Florida, felt underdressed. "I need a little more bling," she said fretfully in her simple black dress.
Surrounded by cameras, celebrities in designer duds and glittery gowns, the two kept repeating the story of their journey to the stage: How they'd been watching the limos going to the Emmys from the window at their hotel when the "Extreme Makeover" people came to call.
And they were thrust into celebrityhood.
Grammer came up to congratulate her, Scholsohn said. "Sarah Jessica Parker said hello. It's great."
Marla Brodsky, the casting director who selected the two for their surprise appearance at the Emmy Award show, accented the postmodern moment: "These are real people.... I'm the person that made them real."
A few miles away, HBO's party at the Pacific Design Center (in the belly of the "blue whale," so to speak), "real people" -- as Parker put it, "the passerby" -- got to rub elbows with the stars.
"Hi, my name is Joe, we have about 6,000 friends in common," a stranger called out to Joe Pantoliano, who was ordering champagne. "Mmmm," said Pantoliano, and turned back to his friends in a cloud of profanities.
A group of guys surrounded Bill Maher: Please, could they have their picture taken with him? He obliged.
The red-on-red decor -- crushed velvet and burgundy roses projected on the ceiling of the massive tent, in bouquets on every table -- was some designer's idea of heaven. Always the contrarian, Maher thought it was more like hell.
Near the bar, Jeff Garlin of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was telling Billy Crystal about an upcoming episode: the Make-A-Wish Foundation Meets the Playboy Mansion.
Around the corner at Morton's, Showtime filled one cabana with Barbra Streisand holding court with James Brolin. In another, Kirstie Alley chatted with Anne Heche -- perhaps recruiting her for Alley's new unscripted show, "Fat Actress."
Dressed in a black pinstripe suit, white shirt, polka-dot tie, Pantoliano had visited the TV Guide party across the street from the Pacific Design Center earlier in the evening.
"This is like our prom," he said.
Like teenagers with prom jitters, most steered clear of the dance floor in the TV Guide tent, trying to act blase while clutching neon cocktails.
"It's fun to get out of the house once in a while," said Kerr Smith of "Charmed" and "Dawson's Creek." "I got ready in two minutes. Didn't even take a shower -- just put my head under the sink." Charming.
On the red carpet, civility reigned -- by necessity. It took a concerted group effort to figure out who exactly were the people trickling down the interview line.
"It's pretty bad if you have to keep asking, 'Who is that, who is that?' " said one publicist. Wait, was that Diana Ross? Yes -- but skipping the media circus entirely, slipping out to her limo and speeding away.