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Emmy Etiquette

There's Billy Bush. What do you do? Follow these tips to shine like the star you are.

August 08, 2007|Denise Martin | Special to The Times

THEY like you. The TV Academy really likes you. They like your show, the writing, the directing, the acting

something. The night of Sept. 16 will be your time to shine, whether you get to the podium or not.

So here's some unsolicited advice for you Emmy first-timers on how to come out a winner either way.

Surround yourself

with friends

The kind who will be honest about how you look. As heartfelt as Patricia Arquette's speech was after she surprised herself with a win for her performance in NBC's supernatural drama "Medium," there was no overlooking that pompadour.

Keep your grooming classic

Gentlemen, shave the peach fuzz and button up the shirts. Yes, we're looking at you, Simon Cowell. And let's save the polka-dotted ascots for trips to the Playboy Mansion, yes?

Avoid Maria Menounos

and Billy Bush at all costs

We know, we know. They're just doing their jobs. But last year's hair-raising Menounos-America Ferrera snafu should have sent warning signs to publicists everywhere: Keep your clients away.

After Ferrera gave a tearful acceptance speech upon winning the Golden Globe for her star-making turn as "Ugly Betty," she stopped in the wings for her post-win interview with NBC's Menounos, who left Ferrera hanging for so long while teasing out the rest of the night. When she did pull Ferrera back into the shot, she for whatever reason asked, "What do you have to say to all those people out there who did not want you to play 'Ugly Betty'?" A puzzled Ferrera said she didn't know she had had any detractors. Menounos, however, wouldn't stop: "Originally, wasn't it that they weren't sure they were gonna go with you?"


But if you find yourself trapped by her or her male counterpart, make like Jeremy Piven. After Bush randomly asked Piven if he'd seen celebrity babies Shiloh (offspring of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) or Suri (daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), the "Entourage" actor issued a smackdown. "I don't go hunting for celebrity babies. I have 116 other things to do. You need another job. You have potential as a human being. This might not be right for you. Seriously." And Bush is down for the count.

Prepare a speech

Spending a few minutes to think about what to say -- it doesn't make you look full of yourself, it makes you look smart -- paid off handsomely for "My Name Is Earl" creator-executive producer Greg Garcia. Accepting last year's comedy writing trophy, he dedicated his speech to people who took no part in his success: his eighth-grade teacher who had told him to shut up, his boss at '80s sitcom "Step by Step," and "God, who took away my hair, which isn't cool." The bit won raves in next-day reviews of the ceremony.

Perhaps a song?

No one has done it yet but it'd be fun for someone to try. When the wrap-it-up symphony began to swell over Mitch Hurwitz, creator-executive producer of "Arrested Development," who was accepting the 2004 comedy writing award, he paused and said, "And I'd like to sing this now if I may

" (But he didn't.) Meryl Streep took it a step further when she was feted for her role in HBO's "Angels in America," crooning to the conductor, "Oh, I can sing this just as well

" Now if someone could actually prepare a ditty to go along with that orchestral tune

Otherwise, be a

little spontaneous

The litany of "thank yous" is unavoidable for most, but if you find yourself actually on stage clutching a trophy with a microphone in front of you, be in the moment. Say something off the cuff. It's a three-hour ceremony and being funny will win you goodwill in the industry that employs you.

Finally, friends don't let friends bring them onstage

We love Allison Janney. And when she won her fourth acting Emmy for "The West Wing," we thought she deserved it. But when she asked that her fellow nominees join her onstage, only flustered friend Mariska Hargitay did. Awkward.

Unless you're overcome with emotion -- and we mean the Ving Rhames kind of overcome (he was so moved he gave his Golden Globe to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon) -- graciously accept the win and thank everyone else in the speech.




CONGRATULATIONS. You've been nominated for your first Emmy award. You should take a moment to enjoy it. OK, that's enough. It's time to put some serious consideration into how you'll present yourself -- both in dress and in speech -- come Sept. 16. You don't want to follow in the missteps of these celebrity faux pas:

Warren Beatty, 2007 Golden Globes -- As the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, it wasn't like Beatty had been caught off guard by his win and subsequent need for something classy to say. So how to explain the endless, rambling speech he gave? Even loving wife Annette Bening's eyes glazed over.

Jeremy Piven, 2006 Emmys -- Yes, "Entourage" is a cool show and Piven is always ready with a biting quip, but don't come to the Emmys dressed like a hipster. Just-rolled-out-of-bed isn't a black-tie look.

Candice Bergen, 2006 Emmys -- She should be an old pro at dressing up for this shindig by now. We don't know what happened.

Paula Abdul, 2005 Emmys -- Use cleavage sparingly. Or, in some cases, not at all please.

Hillary Swank, 2000 Oscars -- Remember who supported you along the way. Swank infamously forgot to thank her then-husband, Chad Lowe, and though she made up for it in her speech the following year, she also thanked her publicist.

Vanessa Redgrave, 1978 Oscars -- Save your politics for your next Bill Maher appearance-- it's not what an award audience is there to see. Redgrave stunned viewers when she lashed out at "Zionist hoodlums" in her support of Palestinian Arabs.

-- Denise Martin

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