FINALLY, television is king. At least, that's what Patricia Richardson of "The West Wing" was saying. She was standing on the red carpet outside the "Entertainment Tonight"/People magazine post-Emmy soiree and explaining matter-of-factly that "TV is better than movies. Look at shows like 'Six Feet Under' and 'West Wing,' and then look at all the dreck Hollywood is putting out."
That was the consensus at Emmy parties around town Sunday night, where celebrities sick of their status as show biz's second-class citizens (a theme even Emmy host Ellen DeGeneres riffed on during the broadcast) celebrated a blockbuster year for the small screen -- and a lackluster year for the big one.
"More and more people get their information and entertainment from TV," said television icon Don Johnson, who has a new show, "Just Legal," on the WB. "Film has become a boutique business. The time has come when we're going to get all our entertainment in our home."
Inside at the Mondrian Hotel, the dark, musky scent of chocolate all but wiped out perfumes and colognes, leading revelers by their noses to the Godiva room. Truffles were everywhere, hundreds of them, glued to the walls in circles and swirls like something out of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
An open patio brimmed with bodies surrounding a stage. It was a tide of muted colors -- black is certainly back. It's exciting to be in TV these days, said "The O.C.'s" Peter Gallagher, "to be involved in this time of change. The problem in movies is that the old formulas aren't getting the returns the studios are hoping for. There's a certain danger in defining the audience too narrowly." Not everyone was optimistic that TV will become the dominant form, however. "Everything's cyclical, it comes and goes," said Kelsey Grammer, looking tired.
Earlier in the evening, award winner Felicity Huffman and husband William H. Macy were having a blast at the Governors Ball. "Those housewives can dance like there's no tomorrow," Macy said. Of his wife's award, he gushed, "I'm so proud, I just knew she would win. I don't know how I knew but I did.... That Emmy looks good on her."
At the Roosevelt Hotel, the TV Guide/Inside TV bash was in full swing, by far the most attended and anticipated party of the night. Anything at the Roosevelt these days is a sought-out invitation, but it helped that Missy Elliott was rocking the house.
"It was a great performance," said Don Wilson, who is guest starring as an X-ray tech on "Grey's Anatomy" this season. "She had very high energy, had the crowd jumpin' a little bit."
Afterward, the younger set danced inside to hip-hop and oldies near yet another decadent chocolate oasis -- this one sponsored by Dove. The color scheme was chocolate brown and orange with white flourishes to match the renovated hotel's class and glamour.
There were specialty drinks named after the nominated dramas and comedies. "Scrubs" shots were served in test tubes; in honor of "Lost," there were mai tais. For "Will & Grace," there was a Manhattan with a Twist; and in homage to the "Desperate Housewives," a Sour Apple Pucker Martini.
Celebrities partied in the balconies surrounding the pool as well as the pool area and lobby inside. Among the famous faces spotted: Ricardo Antonio Chavira and Mark Moses, both of "Desperate Housewives"; Jeremy Piven and Adrian Grenier of "Entourage"; Mathew St. Patrick of "Six Feet Under" and "Reunion"; John C. McGinley and Neil Flynn, both of "Scrubs"; Gabrielle Union and Eric Benet.
But no actors seemed to be having a better time than the cast of "Lost," who celebrated together by the serpentine bar and went nuts when Ian Somerhalder, whose character, Boone, died on the island, appeared at the party.
There wasn't a chocolate room at the HBO party at the Pacific Design Center, but the Bollywood-themed celebration was by far the night's most elaborately designed. Veteran event designer Billy Butchkavitz flew to India to do research and returned with miniature temples, which he meticulously reproduced as life-size hangout areas spread throughout a palatial blue tent and outside. Waiters strode about dressed in white cotton Indian-style tunics, refreshing plates of samosas and vats of delicious mango and pistachio rice pudding.
"Everybody Loves Raymond" actors held court around their reserved table. "We were all happy to be remembered," said Brad Garrett, who played Robert Barone. "It was awkward when they read our name. I try not to eat during the show, but Ellen DeGeneres gave me a piece of cheese, which I was just about to put in my mouth. Then they read the winner and my wife told me, 'Put the cheese down!' "
Costar Doris Roberts brought along her son and her two young grandsons as party dates. "I 100% thought 'Desperate Housewives' would win," she said, grinning, Harry Winston diamond earrings dangling from her lobes. "But this is wonderful. I did nine fabulous, wonderful years. I was working. I won three Emmys. I can't complain."
As the night waned, Quentin Tarantino shot out of the party, wearing a white shirt festooned with dragons. "I would've loved to have won," he said in his trademark nearly nerdy voice. "But 'Lost' is so good." His theory as to why TV is so popular these days? "All the episodes come out on DVD. That's so cool."
Nearby, Macy Gray hustled toward the valet. "It was a cool party," she said. "I didn't know anybody, but I had a good time."
Times staff writer Merrill Balassone contributed to this report.