Fourth estate in the Third World

So often those of us who cover the Emmys, Grammys or Oscars for news outlets hear from the uninitiated: “Oh, that must be so cool/fun/glamorous!” Let’s clear the air right here and now about that.
Yes, we dress up, but not because we want to. It’s because the motion picture or television academy requires it. And we don’t bother with much jewelry because the sandwich-sign-sized credential hanging around our neck immediately violates the rule of “less is more.”
We are compelled by security measures and street closures to arrive ridiculously early, sometimes four or five hours ahead of showtime. And then there’s the aching back from schlepping the laptop and the feet that have ballooned up inside strappy sandals.
The ungodly heat of the red carpet is counter-balanced by the frigid air conditioning in the press tent, so those rivulets of perspiration can freeze within seconds of stepping inside.
Those are the customary hassles. Read on for the work conditions at last night’s Emmys, which in my 17 years of covering awards shows, hit a new low among major events.
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They had a ball

The chilly Grey Goose ice bar was a popular spot to hang out at the Governor’s Ball, even hours after the sun had set over the way-too-hot red carpet. The big post-Emmys party — or the official one, anyway — had a garden motif, with a few large trees holding crystal chandeliers, roses in reds and pinks on every table and a starry canopy overhead, complete with illuminated full moon. Not bad, considering it was all inside the Shrine’s Exhibition Hall.
The orchestra was on a central bandstand that rotated, while, mercifully for those deeply into the Grey Goose, the black-and-white dance floor did not.
The tunes on the music stands — big band and American standards — make you wonder whether the songwriters from decades past somehow predicted their work would surface in this time and place. “Satin Doll” (there were dozens of them in the room), “I’ve Got the World on a String” (Julia Louis-Dreyfus holding court and celebrating the official end of the “Seinfeld” curse comes to mind), and “I Remember You.”
Donald Sutherland of “Commander in Chief” was trophy-less in the supporting actor category, but still beamed as he accepted congratulations for son Kiefer’s long-awaited score for “24.”
Stephen Collins of the resurrected series “Seventh Heaven” chatted with Jaclyn Smith about their fond memories of Aaron Spelling. His is the last Spelling-branded series on the air this fall.
Caught up with “The Office” creator Ricky Gervais, who confessed earlier on the red carpet to wearing a three-year-old suit to the affair, and not a formal one at that. I couldn’t resist, so I asked him whether, given the show’s win as outstanding comedy, maybe next year he would spring for a new suit before the Emmys. “Syndication,” he replied.
Something I noted that left me wistful: looking at Donald Sutherland and Jon Voigt together and realizing that these two gents — part of the brazen young avant garde of ’60s and ’70s filmdom — are now among Hollywood’s elder statesmen.
Something I noted that had me reading between the lines: NBC honcho Jeff Zucker would have been so flocked to and fawned over at the balls during his network’s No. 1 heyday, but he looked a little lonely last night. It’s as if everyone knows that, if NBC does not rebound big time in the early weeks of the fall season, Zucker will be posting his resume on Monster.com.
Something I did not see but would have enjoyed: “Dancing With the Stars” alum Lisa Rinna gliding across the floor with DWS newbie contestant and husband Harry Hamlin.

Backstage at the Emmys: Gift Bags

Some of the winners talked about the whole gift bag controversy with the IRS now requiring the celebrities, given these bags filled with very expensive goodies for presenting at the show, to pay taxes on them.

Winner Jeremy Piven: “The goody bag should be sent to New Orleans and given to Katrina victims. Wouldn’t that be great? But don’t tax them! Just give it to them.”

“My Name is Earl” writer Greg Garcia, who gave the funniest speech of the night, said: “I think you should get one if you WIN. I think everything in Hollywood is ridiculous and lavish and everything should go to a charitable organization.”

Winner Jeremy Irons: “When I did the Oscars last time, I went home with a very, very large suitcase. I don’t believe you should tax presents.”

Backstage at the Emmys

Everyone clapped when Jaclyn Smith came backstage looking like a billion bucks. It’s as if she is untouched by time. She talked about how great it was to be back on stage with Farrah and Kate and they all do keep in touch. The three women were so eloquent on stage during the Aaron Spelling tribute that you kinda forgot about all the sniping between Tori and Candy. Smith, the only one of the three Angels to come backstage and talk to the press was about as gracious and classy as they come…Something that could NOT be said of Joan Collins.

Alexis Carrington herself floated in after Smith stepped down and before anyone could ask a question, she immediately started plugging her new play, “Legends” which she’s going to tour with Linda Evans. She went on, ad nauseum, and mentioned that she had just flown in for the Spelling tribute and was taking the red-eye out after the show. What a trouper! To her self-absorbed credit, Collins did also say: “Aaron was a great friend and a great producer and somebody I cared about very much and really admired.” Then she found a way to get back to the bloody play: “Of course I remember the fight scenes (on “Dynasty”) very much with Linda and we are resurrecting that in the play. I hope I don’t get too black and blue.”

Much more humble was Blythe Danner, who won her second best supporting actress Emmy in a row fior the now-cancelled Showtime series “Huff.”
“I’m absolutely floored, I didn’t expect it. I thought Jean Smart or Candice (Bergen). It’s not going to happen, we’re cancelled! It’s a nice way to say goodbye, it’s bittersweet.”
Danner says of daughter Gwyneth Paltrow: “She’s an incredible mother, she’s handling it so well…she’s very sweet and she’s very strong with them abnd she’s consistent. I wasn’t always very consistent.” She grew emotional when asked about her late husband, producer-director Bruce Paltrow: ‘This belongs to you,” she said as she hoisted her Emmy up. “He’s very missed and this does belong to him.”

Tony Shaloub, who won best actor in a comedy series said backstage: “Last year i was shocked, this year i was semi-comotose. i just couldn’t process it. I’d like to feel good but I feel too numb. I was just convinced that it was going in another direction. (He thought it was going to Steve Carell). He says “I’m much bigger worrier than my character is.”

Barry Manilow had a busy night between singing during a Dick Clark tribute to beating out a list of heavy hitters to win the best individual performance in a musical or variety program. “It’s the biggest shock I’ve ever had,” the singer said backstage. “The critics have put me down…but I like “Weekend in New England!” He cried and hugged Clark on stage during the tribute and later said of Clark’s condition after a stroke: “When one of those things hits, they stop you. He’s a real trooper.”

And the Emmy for an actually entertaining awards show goes to…

Controversy, shmontroversy: I think the Emmys pretty much got it right this year.

(If you’re still watching the West Coast feed and want no spoilers, wait a couple of hours.)

“24″ got its long-awaited Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. Sure, its plot holes and/or convolutions can be mind-bending, but whether you watch it for the high drama or to chortle at the its more preposterous moments — I’m still trying to get my head around the whole President-in-league-with-terrorists thing, which makes whoever cooked that up a mad genius, but a genius nonetheless — you’re quite likely addicted to it. That’s great TV.

And “The Office,” no matter which version on whatever side of the pond you watch, is a brilliant TV series, so its win for Outstanding Comedy Series is completely justified. As for Tony Shalhoub’s third win in the acting category, over Steve Carell, well, you can’t stop Emmy voters from a kneejerk repetitious vote here or there. Megan Mullally’s win over “My Name is Earl’s” Jaime Pressly in the Supporting Actress/Comedy category was a similar head-scratcher — maybe if Emmy voters were coaxed to think in terms of a fresh comic creation, results might be a little different.

Perhaps most gratifying was HBO’s little-seen “The Girl in the Cafe’s” strong showing, which proves that, honest, the voters really are sitting down and watching these things.

Other pluses: Conan O’Brien was terrific as host, backed by some very sharp material. Presenter patter was less insipid than usual — occasionally, even funny, particularly Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s hilariously blinkered and back-handed honoring of the Reality-Competition category. (Which makes you wonder — did they rig it so that Barry Manilow would beat Colbert and Stewart, just so Colbert could have his spectacularly funny meltdown over losing to Manilow? Because, honestly, they couldn’t have scripted that outcome any better.) Bob Newhart’s deadpan peril, likewise, was very amusing, as was his bewildered dismay that 6 percent of the viewers bothered to vote that they had “no opinion” as to whether he should live or die. Hugh Laurie, as perhaps the most egregiously snubbed performer, was nevertheless a gentleman and a laugh riot, participating in not one but two bits of amusing Emmy-night business. And, year in and year out, one of the funniest things about the Emmy ceremony is the presentations of the long lists of writers for the Variety/Music/Comedy shows (Letterman, O’Brien, Stewart, Colbert, etc.), and this year, gratifyingly, was no exception. Maybe next year, some intrepid entertainment journalist should do a story about how these guys go about creating their mode of ironic self-exaltation.)

Weirdest thing about the ceremony: That my piece in today’s Daily News (see blog entry below for the full experience) was so astonishingly prescient, yet was written for a laugh. (I only got one thing wrong, and even Stewart, whose “Daily Show” won for its writing, admitted that “The Colbert Report” deserved to win.)

Bad thing about the ceremony: The music- and video-cue guy was awfully slow on the uptake when winners were announced. There was a frequently weirdly uncomfortable silence while winners made their way to the stage. It reminded me of the muted reaction when I won a writing award (which, granted, hasn’t actually happened, but a hushed, almost hostile, response is what I would sort of expect if I actually won anything.)

Worst thing about the Emmys: That despite the fact that information is disseminated at record land-speeds across The Internets, the networks still insist on running most awards shows (sparing only the Oscars) on tape-delay on the West Coast. Naturally, it’s a financial decision (prime-time commercials cost more than those at 5 or 6 p.m.), but, let’s face it — eventually, that’ll prove to be a wash, because everyone on the West Coast will know all the winners before the broadcast and tune out, which’ll lower ad rates anyway. It’s particularly insane to delay the broadcast in the industry’s home in L.A. — they wouldn’t tape-delay automotive awards ceremonies in Detroit, would they?

So congratulations to all the deserving winners, nice-going to all the undeserving ones, and a hearty I’m-just-as-pissed-as-you-are to the losers whose sterling work merited a better outcome.

“24″ Saves The Emmys: The DVD Commentary

If lame movies merit DVD-commentary tracks, why not lame — um, sorry, brilliant — newspaper stories? Hence, we have dragged in our auteur to explain himself — that is, his creative process as he slapped together, er, lovingly crafted today’s thrilling episode of “24,” in which Jack Bauer saves the Emmys.

(The story begins. Our auteur sits in austere silence.)

As celebrities prance and preen down the red carpet tonight, a dark, threatening presence surrounds the 58th annual Emmy Awards ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium. This year, a number of acclaimed actors were snubbed due to a new nomination process, and there are rumors nasty rumors that something unpleasant might happen tonight.
No one takes the threat more seriously than Jack Bauer, the no-holds-barred hero of “24,” a show that has picked up 12 nominations, the most of anyone. Now a frightening scenario has been leaked to us about tonight’s ceremony (we have our sources). But we feel confident all will turn out well because Jack who would cut his mother’s eye out if he thought she was a traitor is on the case.

The Auteur: Um. Well, I didn’t do this part. My introduction was a little more deadpan, like it was an actual newspaper story, sort of, and that made everything that came after that much weirder.

I was on the phone with Marty at the network (everyone in the business when you’re explaining how something odd happened, they’re named Marty), and he told me, “Omigod, everyone here loves your vision for this piece. We’ve changed everything. We’ve taken your bold vision in an even bolder new direction.”

This bolder new direction is OK, though it says “24″ received 12 nominations, “the most of anyone,” which isn’t true — it did receive the most of any ongoing series (the miniseries “Into the West” got more). And suggesting Jack “would cut out his mother’s eye if he thought she was a traitor” seems another factual error, given how defiantly he defended Audrey when she was floated as CTU’s mole du jour for an episode, and she’s just annoying Audrey, who everyone in the audience wanted to see tortured. So Jack’d probably not put his mom’s eye out, but he might shoot her in the thigh.

(The story continues.)

The following takes place between 5 and 8 p.m.
5:00:01: Jack Bauer’s black SUV brakes sharply before the Shrine.
He snaps open his cell phone: “Chloe, set up a perimeter. No one comes in or out. And download the entire audience seating assignment onto my PDA.”
“I’m on it, Jack,” Chloe pouts petulantly.
Bauer, knocking out a security guard and sneaking through a side door even though he’s been granted full security clearance, peruses the instantly downloaded list of 6,300 names; immediately, his face is seized with concern. “Chloe!” he barks into his cell phone. “Hugh Laurie is here!”
“So? He’s really good in ‘House,’ ” Chloe counters crankily.
“Perhaps but he wasn’t nominated this year!”
Jack’s face grows dark; behind him, an ominous figure shadows Bauer.

The Auteur: See how artfully I’ve alluded to the big plot twist that comes at the end of the story? “Shadows?” Utter brilliance. See, I thought this thing out, as opposed to the people who actually make “24,” who just up and decided one day to make the President of the United States in league with terrorists.

5:18:30: As host Conan O’Brien concludes his opening monologue, which shows remarkable restraint in featuring only three John Mark Karr jokes and two Charlie Sheen gags, Bauer creeps up behind Laurie’s assigned seat. He leaps over three rows, grabs the man in a headlock and pummels him senseless. He turns the man’s bloodied face toward him.
“This isn’t Laurie!” Bauer bleats.
“It’s a seat filler, moron,” Mariska Hargitay stammers, taken aback. “I saw him go backstage.”
“Backstage?” Bauer cries, grabbing his cell phone. “Chloe! Set up a perimeter around the green room!”

The Auteur: Not 20 minutes in, and Jack’s already set up two perimeters and beaten up two guys. Genius.

5:27:25: Bauer, gun drawn, lurks backstage as Alan Alda leaves the podium after accepting the Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a drama. Bauer gratuitously cold-cocks Alda with his gun butt, does a tuck-and-rollup to the green room, then lurches into the green room, where Laurie sips a cup of tea. Jack shoots him in the thigh, grabs him by his tux lapels.
“What are you doing here?” he demands.
“Dude, dial it back; take a Zoloft,” Denis Leary, also lounging in the green room, drawls sardonically. “He’s a presenter.”
Bauer snaps open his cell phone. “Chloe, we’ve been sent on a wild-goose chase. Get me the coordinates for best-comedy-actress snubs Lauren Graham, Marcia Cross and Mary-Louise Parker. They have the means, and they have the motive well, at least they have the motive. They must be behind this.” He sheepishly turns to Laurie: “Uh, sorry about that.”
“No worries,” Laurie says. “I have to limp on my show; now, I won’t have to act.”
“Jack Graham and Cross are both in Temecula,” Chloe responds irritably. “Parker well, her character sells pot. Do you really expect her to have the gumption to protest when she’s already won an Emmy and two Golden Globes?”

The Auteur: So much is going on here — the ongoing mystery, faux Emmy verisimilitude, wry commentary on the year’s Emmy controversy, blurring the lines between TV and reality, snarky gossip and a truly tortured attempt to unify these disparate entities. But, if you watch the deleted scenes elsewhere on this DVD, you’ll see that even more took place in this scene. I wrote, and we shot, a beautiful scene in which Jack’s sometime-sidekick Curtis made a brief appearance. He was found unconscious in the green room, delivered a line of exposition that I later decided was unnecessary, got to shoot someone and then was consigned to the same off-camera oblivion that Curtis himself found himself for most of the season. It was a poignant, poetic meditation on race, class and the eternal struggle of the contract player — and it stopped the story dead in its tracks. So out it came. This was my decision — the network begged me to keep Curtis in, given that they’d already paid him and everything, but I, clinging to my artistic vision, refused.

Oh, and have you picked up on the oh-so-subtle word choices? Mariska Hargitay — inherently funny. Temecula — absolutely inherently funny. This is comic gold, people.

5:35:59: Bending the rules of physics, Jack speeds up to a Temecula address and, gun drawn, kicks down the door and begins shooting.
“What are you doing?” Graham demands, emerging from the kitchen with a bag of microwave popcorn.
“I’ll ask the questions here,” Bauer barks. “What do you know about the plot to attack the Emmys?”
“No one can hurt the Emmys any more than the voting body already has,” Graham retorts.
“Don’t get smart with me,” Bauer says, grabbing her roughly.
“Why’d you establish such a remote base of operations?”
“These people you just killed were my only friends with an East Coast feed of the Emmys, you jerk,” she replies, then brightens when glancing at the TV. “Oh, look: ‘The Colbert Report’ won for best writing for a variety series!”
“Chloe, we’ve been set up!” Jack yelps into his cell phone. He looks darkly at his image in a two-way mirror; on the other side, a shadowy figure monitors his movements.

The Auteur: OK, OK, I know — I said Marcia Cross was with Lauren Graham in Temecula, and she’s nowhere to be seen in this scene. Well, we shot the previous scene when talks were ongoing with Cross but things looked to be a pretty sure bet. And then she pulled out. But Graham, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me, carries this scene beautifully; we didn’t need Cross after all. The microwave popcorn bag was her idea, and it was a brilliant touch, just the subtle bit of business that humanizes her character — or, rather, her, since she’s playing herself. Also, I think she was just hungry when we shot this.

Also, we include a little throwaway line so that no one forgets that this is a story about the Emmys, which was the whole point, but, being the Emmys, they are sort of easy to forget about, even when you’re writing specifically about them. And: the second oblique hint as to the upcoming radical plot twist: a two-way mirror. So as utterly shocking and unpredictable as the big plot twist is, at least you won’t be able to say we didn’t warn you.

6:22:15: As lucky as Jack was with traffic on his drive to Temecula, he’s equally unlucky on the way back to the Shrine: The on-ramp from Interstate 15 to the 10 is the site of a major pileup. Nothing is moving as rescue vehicles arrive. Jack looks at his watch. His face darkens. He flips opens his phone and calls for a chopper to evacuate him.
6:40:30: Jack climbs onto a rope ladder dangled from the copter, which lifts him high above the accident.
6:46:47: Back at the Shrine, Ellen Burstyn’s acceptance speech for outstanding supporting actress in a TV movie is longer than her bravura 15-second turn in “Mrs. Harris.”
6:52:00: As he swings through the air above L.A., Jack wonders if he should have charged his cell phone.

The Auteur: OK, again, the network and I had some creative differences here, and apparently the network won. I had Jack stuck in traffic for a half-hour, and, if you consult the timeline, that’s in keeping with the stuck-in-traffic scenario. (Had Jack really summoned a helicopter, he’d been back at the Shrine in three minues.) So when I presented my vision for this scene to the network, Marty was ecstatic. “Omigod,” Marty told me; he said, “you’ve radicalized the whole concept behind 24! You’ve taken it through the looking-glass! Sitting with Jack in traffic for a half-hour with only a brief cutaway to Ellen Burstyn is cutting-edge, transformative television.”

I had to agree.

“We can’t do it.” Before I could protest, Marty said, “Look. I know, everyone says that networks are afraid of innovation. But it’s not that. It’s just that we’ve already paid for the helicopter.”

6:57:22: Just as Jack bursts back into the Shrine, an explosion erupts onstage during a musical tribute to ’80s-sitcom hairstyles. William Shatner, Meredith Baxter and host O’Brien perish in the blast.
Jack flips open his cell phone: “Chloe, contact the director; tell him the dead-celebrity montage needs to be updated.” His face darkens.

The Auteur: So this didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. I mean, the explosion is truly spectacular; don’t get me wrong. But while “Meredith Baxter Birney” sounds funny, “Meredith Baxter” just doesn’t, and much to my chagrin someone actually fact-checked this story and figured out that the “Birney” comes from two husbands back. Had the network confronted me about this, I would’ve pointed out that she was, in fact, “Meredith Baxter Birney” (see? say it to yourself three times fast! Comic genius!) back when she had a regrettable hairstyle in an ’80s sitcom. As for Shatner — well, enough said, and he actually sings badly, as well. He was a real trooper on this shoot, but then, if you’ve seen him lately on VH1 or TV Land or Comedy Central or the History Channel or Discovery or wherever he’s knocking one off, you know he’ll pretty much do anything.

7:03:16: As order is restored, Jack orders Jane Kaczmarek to take over as emcee. Her extemporaneous Mel Gibson one-liners get huge laughs; her Hurricane Katrina jokes are considered a bit dated.
7:18:18: Jack, realizing he’s overlooking a crucial clue, tries to call Chloe, but his cell-phone battery is dead. “Damn!” he says, “I knew I should’ve recharged this thing at some point in the past five years!” A dark expression clouds his face; he sets off in search of a pay phone.
7:41:05: Bauer finally locates a pay phone outside the nearby car dealership shrouded by a giant Felix the Cat statue and calls Chloe.

The Auteur: Verisimilitude, and ironic juxtaposition: There really is a giant Felix the Cat statue atop a car dealership near the Shrine Auditorium. We had to install the pay phone, however.

“What Emmys have yet to be distributed?” he demands. As she recalcitrantly recites the list, Jack’s eyes widen; he abruptly stops her. “Chloe,” he gravely intones, “there’s a mole inside CTU!” He drops the phone and runs, gun drawn, back to the Shrine, shooting a number of journalists inside the press tent along the way, just in case.
7:46:47: Just as Kaczmarek is about to introduce the presenter for outstanding actor in a drama series, Bauer tackles her and grabs the envelope. “You!” he shouts, training his gun on a figure lurking in the shadows, sporting a cummerbund over a hoodie sweater. “Don’t move!”
The figure skulks onto the stage; Jack tackles him, wrestling the hood from his head, revealing … Kiefer Sutherland.
“You don’t understand!” Sutherland bellows. “I’ve been nominated five years in a row and have nothing to show for it! I knew I wouldn’t win if Hugh Laurie was nominated!
“So I called Chloe, impersonating you, and asked her to download the Emmy mainframe into my PDA,” the anguished Sutherland continues.
“All my acting on that show is shouting into cell phones, shooting people in the thigh and responding to depressing information with a dark expression!
“I manipulated votes so what?” Sutherland adds. “So Kevin James gets a nod; so seven lead actresses from canceled shows get nominated; so that lame ‘Will & Grace’ gets 10 nominations! That’s a small price to pay to ensure my own corporeal glory!”
“You’re insane,” hisses Bauer.
“Chloe knows you better than anyone, and I convinced her I was you,” Sutherland responds. “That should be worth an Emmy, right?”
7:57:01: “24″ is named outstanding drama series. Bauer himself addresses the audience: “I’d like to thank those who couldn’t be here tonight,” he says, his visage darkening; he realizes he’s now one of them.

The Auteur: What can I say? Pure genius: Ironic, shocking, contemplative, true to the spirit of “24″ and bust-a-gut funny. “Kaczmarek” — funny, funny, funny. Whenever I’m low and considering ending it all I’ll just think of Jane Kaczmarek’s name and in it somehow find the strength to continue on. And finally, the long-awaited plot twist, better even than making the President of the United States in league with the terrorists: Making Jack Bauer himself, or his doppelganger, the bad guy! Elucidating the Conradian duality within each of us, the story ultimately asks us to look deep within ourselves, find that which is truly evil and, then, embrace it fully, because that is what makes us human.

Or something like that.

Pre-Show Chit Chat Vol. 3

Nancy O’Dell just asked Kieeer Sutherland a dumb questiion: who would win a tennis match between he and father Donald Sutherland and Charlie and Martin Sheen (all flour are nominated tonight.) Keifer, so good in “24,” just kinda looks at her and says, “I have no idea.”
Now Barry Manilow is there with Nancy with his godaughter. Barry’s hair is not moving. Barry’s face is not moving. But he looks awfully cool in his shades and a white suit and black shirt.
Oh God! It’s Joan Collins. She’s dripping with diamonds as she tells Billy Bush that Aaron Spelling is God. He asks her how she stays looking so young and she makes a confession: it’s all done with mirrors.”
Here comes Sean Hayes, nominated again. He says of Will & Grace, “I miss it already.”

Pre-Show Chit Chat: Vol. 2

Kyra Sedgwick is on, looking lovely. Love her! Hubby Kevin Bacon is there and they have been married liike 20 years. Kyra is up for “The Closer” and deserves to win! OK, now Jaimie Pressley is on prattling on about her gown that was sewn in Italy and beaded in India. I’m bored. But she is buff. Look at those biceps.

OK, now William Shatner, he’s making jokes. Or trying to. O’Dell is asking hom stupid questions tho. (Did i realy say I liked her more than Mary Hart? I take it back) Now here’s a vision: Mariska Hargitay, a new mom and a nominee. She says it feels “pretty great” to be on a red carpet and not be pregnant. She was big as a bungalow at the SAG Awards earlier this year. I want Kyra to win in Mariska’s category but I’m cool if Hargitay takes the trophy home. ANYONE but Allyson Janney, she’s got about 10 already and didn’t too much on West Wing this year except look pained.

Ellen Pompeo is up with Billy Bush now but doesn’t seem to want to linger. She’s presenting the first award “and I really have to be on time.” She’s talking about her co-stars “beautiful spirits.”
Now it’s Grace and Karen, I mean Debra Messing and Megan Mullally. I want Megan to talk in her Karen Walker voice. She sounds much too serious. She should point to Debra’s dress and say, “Honey. What’s this? What’s going on here?”

Pre-Show Chit-Chat: Vol. One

Well, if you’re reading this instead of watching the NBC pre-show (poor you), I’ll give you some of the highlights with my observations, of course.
Randy Jackson was just on and said “dude” aboiut a zillion times. I thought “dawg” was his favorite word. Now Jean Smart is on! I want her to win! She’s up for “24″ and is showing some serious cleavage. Could this REALLY be the same actress who played sweet Charlene on “Designing Women”?
Jon Voight is nominated and being interviewed by Nancy O’Dell. He brought his goddaughter. I guess Angelina Jolie, his real daughter, was busy. O’Dell just asked him about Angelina, with whom he is famously estranged. He simply said, “I send my love her way.”
BTW, the girl sitting next to me does NOT like pre-show co-host Billy Bush, for political reasons, and says so everytime they flash his mug on the screen. It’s gonna be a long night.

The Backstage Pecking Order…

So, in between stuffing my face with guacamole and chips, was flipping through this tip sheet they give to the press peeps here in the “general press room.” From the looks of it, Iit’s gong to be Labor Day before we get to see any of the winners back here.
Here are the many steps winners have to take after winning their trophies: Step1, Entertainment Tonight’s Mary Hart gets everyone first. Who cares? They’re probably still hyperventilating anyway. At least they’ll be coherent when they get to us. Step 2. The stop at the trophy table (whatever that is..I mean, aren’t they already holding the trophy?) At this stage, they will be interviewed by “Access Hollywood” co-host Nancy O’Dell. I’m not really bitter about that because I like Nancy more than Mary, she’s less chirpy. Good God, anyone is less chirpy. An AP reporter who I’m friendly with aqt these affairs, Sandy Cohen, is going to be at that same stop. She was just in here and I didn’t even mutter “bitch” under my breath at her for getting such a plum spot.
Step 3: The winners step into a sea of flashbulbs in the photo room so the international press corps can shoot them at all angles in their glee. Step 4: “Extra” now gets a “quickie” interview with the winners before they arrive at Step 5: Official Emmy Portrait Gallery which I’d grumble about except that I’ve seen the issue with all the portrait and it is a keeper. Step 6: People Magazinbe photo booth: WhatEVER. Step 7. FINALLY! We get the winners. They’ll probably be so talked out and exhuasted by then. We’ll get one-word answers, if we get ANY answers.
Wish me luck…