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Toasting wins, drowning losses

After the show, Emmy attendees walk over to the Governors Ball to celebrate, congratulate and commiserate.

September 23, 2008|Richard Rushfield | Times Staff Writer

Stunned and giddy, the hordes of guests at Sunday night's 60th annual Emmy Awards streamed out of the Nokia Theatre after the three-hour ceremony and onto the red-carpeted street, where flutes of champagne were passed around, creating an instant block party -- albeit a glamorous one.

As a jazz band played Django Reinhardt tunes, the crowd was gently urged up the stairs toward the massive Convention Center for the Governors Ball. Inside, the space was vast and otherworldly, tiny lights twinkled from a distant blacked-out ceiling, chandelier trees hung in midair and hundreds of tables were spread out in all directions. Docents were stationed around the room -- Table 742? Right this way.

On the far side of the room, the "House" table took its third consecutive defeat for drama series like old pros, nibbling philosophically at their breadsticks. "Of course, it's disappointing to lose for the third year in a row, but it doesn't stop me from focusing on what's really important -- continually expanding my collection of vintage Ferraris," co-executive producer Peter Blake cracked.

Up on the little balcony where "The Colbert Report" team had been placed, things were considerably more festive. After two years of taking a back seat to "The Daily Show" in the writing for a variety, music or comedy program category, at last their table displayed glistening gold trophies. The mood was buoyant; the group aggressively hobnobbed and accepted congratulations while their first course, "the king crab and avocado sphere," sat untouched. Said "Colbert" writer Laura Krafft, "I used to think that these awards were just stupid, but now that I've won I see it takes real talent."

Standing out amid all the Armani tuxes was Krafft's brother, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Krafft, in elegant dress blues. "People have been very nice. People come up to me and I get asked, 'What do you do? What are you?' " the military man said about Hollywood's reputation for radicalism. Staring at the famous faces surrounding him -- Alec Baldwin to the left, Jon Stewart to the right -- Krafft quietly said, "No one in my squadron would believe this."

Dinner was served, yet few seemed inclined to sit again so soon, touching down only for brief forkfuls of the roasted New York strip steak and balsamic glazed BBQ prawns, the maitake mushroom and caramelized cipollini asparagus from chef Joachim Splichal and Patina catering.

The ballroom was beautiful, the food delicious, but what had the guests buzzing was the unassuming packet of papers placed at each table. A hot new script circulating? No, this hot ticket was a 28-page list of table assignments showing which networks, shows and, most important, which stars were seated where. Plans were quickly made for a route that would sweep by Tina Fey at Table 551, over to Jon Hamm at 817 and then on to Laura Linney at 210.

The "American Idol" / "So You Think You Can Dance" table was in a festive mood despite "Amazing Race's" continued dominance of the reality television category. "Idol" / "Dance" overlord Nigel Lythgoe reported that he used his first few moments without a show on the air this year to launch the dance show franchise in South Africa. Telling of his travels, he marveled about that nation's talent. Across the table, "SYTYCD" judge Mary Murphy was asked if the party rates a ticket on the Hot Tamale Train (her highest level of praise on the show).

"Oh, no," she drawled in a deep Southern pitch, "You can't get a ticket on the Hot Tamale Train if there's no dancing." She gazed out forlornly at the empty patch of dance floor in front of the bandstand. So why are these things called balls if there's never any dancing? "Maybe because there are so many more losers than winners," she said.

"A party with Mary Murphy is a scream!" Lythgoe said from across the table, referring to his colleague's penchant for full-volumed praise on the show. But Murphy didn't take the bait; no piercing trademark shout came forth to crack the chandeliers across the ballroom.

Making his way out of the party, Ryan Seacrest stopped by to greet his "Idol" family. The famously early-to-bed, multiple-job-holding hosting titan is out awfully late, maybe his latest ever? "Well, let's see," he said, looking at his watch, "the big hand is on the 2 and the little hand is on the, what's that number? I've never seen that before, 1 and 0 . . ." He looked up and gazed around the room. "So this is what normal people do at night . . . I've got to try this again."


richard.rushfield@latimes .com

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