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{THE PARTY SYSTEM}

Night Of 1,000 Rsvps

Emmy revelers must plan wisely tonight. So, think the 900-pound Buddha will be a draw?

September 16, 2007|Monica Corcoran | Times Staff Writer

The Emmys -- like a middle child -- have never been the standout among award show kin. The Grammys have their share of rebellious rock stars; the Oscars are rife with attention-snatching stars. But lately, the Emmys are causing a fuss among partygoers.

From the Governors Ball at the Shrine to the HBO bash at the Blue Whale, from Entertainment Tonight/People's party at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to the latest entry on the scene, DirecTV's shindig in West Hollywood, expect more lengths of red carpet, more limos and, undoubtedly, more overtime for the fire marshal.

"I will probably go to four or five parties, not counting the ones on Emmy night," said "Heroes" costar and nominee Masi Oka. "I think it's a reflection of the quality of television that the season has grown and there are more events."

Or maybe it's just that everyone in Hollywood misses one another and has back-to-school fever. Last year, the Emmys landed in late August, which hampered party attendance. Tan or no tan, did anyone really want to leave Martha's Vineyard before Labor Day and miss the fireworks?

The TV industry itself has been blossoming too. Two years ago, when it was announced that movies were dead and television was king, the Emmys earned some much needed cool-kid cachet. That rep translated into better, big-budget parties with specialty drink fountains and headlining bands that didn't play bar mitzvahs.

Since then, there has been no turning back, and this year is no exception. Given the tangle of competing hosts, sponsors and exotic venues all vying for the same boldface names, the major question for morning-after pundits will be who went where -- and why.

Oh, the pressure. David Semel, a nominee for directing an episode of "Heroes," was first out of the gate with an intimate cocktail party held at his Beverly Hills home all of 10 days ago. "I did not want to compete with a Vanity Fair party or some other big events," Semel said. "It's hard enough for TV actors to get off the set, as it is." Perhaps similarly cautious, Sandra Oh hosted a cozy dinner party Sept. 8 for fellow Emmy nominees Elizabeth Perkins, Holland Taylor and Chandra Wilson.

Then, the social tornado ensued, with a week of nonstop dinners, parties, gifting suites and an afternoon tea. And if weren't for the newest pre-Emmy addition -- the Night Before party hosted by Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson in Century City -- revelers would have had a chance to exhale. Fortunately, that event was tucked into the one gap in yesterday's schedule -- late afternoon, early evening -- before the dueling Entertainment Weekly fete in Hollywood and NBC/Universal's party at Spago were scheduled to begin.

But the real showdown for attendees, especially anyone toting a gilded statuette, starts after tonight's live telecast. Already, DirecTV's debut has drawn lots of buzz.

The fact that a company best known for its rooftop satellite dishes has the gall to take on the soiree establishment has fingers waggling and tongues flapping. Undeterred by skeptics, DirecTV has orchestrated its debut event with the precision of a social climber.

Hoping to create a gravitational pull all of its own, the broadcast company has set up shop in an inflatable sphere on a lot in West Hollywood. Images from various TV shows will be projected nonstop throughout the sphere in an atmosphere that just might rival Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, with endless flutes of Champagne, of course.

The programming provider has also enlisted nightlife impresario Brent Bolthouse to deejay and draw out some of his famous pals. And if that is not enough, word has it that the company will also present certain guests (read: nominees) with plasma TVs.

It's no coincidence that the HBO party is but a stroll away, but siphoning from this party could be tough. The evening over there could turn into an impromptu party to say goodbye to "The Sopranos," and the cable network has reenlisted designer Billy Butchkavitz to awe crowds. They say he's come through with a 900-pound gilded Buddha and two 350-pound elephant heads.

Meanwhile, the other remaining contenders -- ET and TV Guide -- have their own dueling ammo: live entertainment. ET, conveniently held at Disney Hall, has Duran Duran and Dave Koz in its corner. TV Guide boasts crooner John Legend and the Band From TV, which includes Hugh Laurie from "House."

Now, that's one way to draw nominees. Let them play rock star too.

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monica.corcoran@latimes.com

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