HBO's Emmy party was the place to be on Sunday night -- for the winners… (David Horsey / Los Angeles…)
Sunday night at the Emmy Awards was a good night for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jeff Daniels, Michael Douglas, Bobby Cannavale and Tony Hale. As a result, it was a good night to be at the HBO after-party at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.
Sure, AMC’s “Breaking Bad” took the top spot for dramatic series and ABC’s “Modern Family" won for the fourth straight time in the comedy series category, but, with “Veep,” “The Newsroom,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Behind the Candelabra” all scoring wins for HBO, the prestige cable network could claim an impressive haul of golden statuettes.
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The HBO party was such a charmed affair that the cast of “Modern Family,” as well as the winner of the dramatic actress category, Claire Danes of Showtime’s “Homeland,” chose to celebrate there.
The "Veep" cast was especially giddy since two of its troop -- Louis-Dreyfus and Hale -- were winners. The show is a satire of Washington, D.C. politics that eschews the idealism of “West Wing” and the brooding cynicism of “House of Cards,” instead finding smart humor in pettiness, careerism and gross incompetence.
I inserted myself into the revelry to talk with Louis-Dreyfus. I told her how my daughter’s boyfriend had recently asked me whether “West Wing” or “House of Cards” was the best take on national politics and how I told him “Veep” might be most accurate of all.
Confirming my assessment, Louis-Dreyfus said she had recently visited Vice President Joe Biden’s office in the real West Wing. “All of his staff introduced themselves to me as characters in the show,” she said. “A woman introduced herself to me and she said, ‘Hi, I’m the Dan Egan of the office’ with great pride on her face” -- “Veep” character Dan Egan being a self-impressed, ethics-challenged, do-anything-to-get-ahead political operative -- “and I thought that was really kind of funny.”
A few tables away, the cast members of “The Newsroom” were taking turns giving hugs and congratulations to Daniels, the surprise winner of the dramatic actor award. There was jubilation that the prize would help guarantee a third season for the critically lauded but audience-deficient series. Daniels was up against stiff competition but may have been awarded the Emmy because of his ability to make Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire, densely packed dialogue sound almost like normal speech.
I thanked Daniels for portraying the high idealism of journalism. He credited Sorkin and noted that the series’ creator shows TV journalists’ “swings and misses.”
“He writes warts and all,” Daniels said. “He writes people who are reaching for something, a utopia or an ideal, and we miss, we don’t get it right all the time.”
When I mentioned I had spent most of my career doing political cartoons, Daniels perked up. As a high school student back in Michigan, he said, being a political cartoonist was what he aspired to, but there was another kid who did it better, so he let that dream go.
Obviously, he has done just fine in his alternative vocation.
Daniels was keeping his Emmy statuette close by. So were Louis-Dreyfus and Hale. But a couple of the winged golden girls from another show had been entrusted to an assistant. I was in the men’s room when that young man came through the door with a statuette in each hand. He walked up to a urinal and realized he had a dilemma.
“They just handed these to me,” he said, not clarifying who “they” were. After considering the situation for a couple of seconds, he placed the Emmys on the floor by his feet and freed his hands for other work. The men standing nearby all laughed. It was funny and also mildly shocking to see such treasures brought to the level of plumbing tools.
The lesson to be remembered by all awards winners: Enjoy it now; glory fades fast.