At the Governor’s Ball….

Got into my very first post-Emmy Governor’s Ball tonight.
Ordered a diet coke and began to circle the room, looking for stars like Lucy Ricardo in an episode of “I Love Lucy.” I quickly realize that there are many more non-stars here than stars. So this is gonna take some work. It’s not easy to circle the room when teams of food servers keep marching out of the kitchen with scarily focused precision.
OK! My first sightings. Sitting at a table in the middle of the room are Marcia Cross and her hubby and across from them are Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer. Alright, I’m cookin now. There goes Conchata Ferrell, making her way to the ladies room. I sure wish she had won for “Two and a Half Men.” I was rooting for her.
Meanwhile, Brad Garrett is sitting with a table of folks I don’t recognize and is eating his dinner. I don’t know what they served since I was just a mingler, not an official guest. I know it was meat and a potato and it all looked really fancy – Food Network fancy.
OK, jackpot. This is the “Ugly Betty” table, or tables, and I see Eric Mabius kissing someone’s Emmy. America Ferrera is nowhere to be seen so I assume Mabius is smooching the Emmy won by Richard Shepard for directing the “Betty” pilot. Also spot Michael Urie and the kid who plays Justin whose real name escapes me at this late hour. And Ana Ortiz is there too, looking lovely.
Tony Bennett has just been introduced and he’s gonna sing! i make my way to the center of the room. This, I gotta see…and hear. He does three numbers including “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and is in incredible form. Is he 81 now? Amazing.”
Back to star sightings: I see Thomas Haden Church arrive, Emmy in hand and he is standing with the gang from “Broken Trail” including fellow winner Robert Duvall. Then this was cool: I’m plotting my next move when I tiurn around and essentially am face-to-face with Al Gore, the former vice president of the U.S. and an Emmy winner tonight. I say, “Congratulations Mr. Gore.” He smiles, says “Thank you” and we shake hands. I’m kinda giddy for a few seconds then spot LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who is just being surrounded by all these people – mostly women. He seemed to be trying to make his way out of the room was constantly being stopped, asked to pose for pictures etc.
I decide to make one last circle around the party before heading out. i spot Glenn Close standing at a table talking to people, including Edward Asner. At another table, I see Ben Vereen talking to his “Roots” co-star Leslie Uggams.
I didn’t see Sally Field at the ball but on my way in, I did see her walking out of a press tent with her son and before I knew it, I said to her: “Great speech!” She paused for a moment, looked over her shoulder and said: “Thank you!” Then she walked into the night…

Sally Field talks backstage about her speech…

Sally Field was told by a reporter that her anti-war comment at the end of her acceptance speech would get a lot of attention.
“Oh well,” was her reply. “I’ve been there before….I don’t care.”
Then a reporter wanted to know what she thought of FOX bleeping out the “goddamed wars” part of her remarks.
Field: “Oh well. If they bleep it, I’ll say it somewhere else.”
The actress added: “I said what I wanted to say. I wanted to pay homage to the mothers of the world and let their work be seen and valued. i seriously think if mothers ruled the world, we wouldnt be sending out children off to be slaughtered.”

Field said that in her speech, “I had no agenda. I wanted to pay homage to mothers, period. Especially the mothers who wait for their children to come back from war.”

Of being on “Brothers & Sisters” as Nora Walker, she said: “I’m very fortunate and grateful to have Nora Walker in my life, all the Walkers. I wanted to say something about the mothers who wait for the military children to come home. That’s the heart iof Nora Walker’s character this year. I don’t see this kind of character examined: what is it like to be a woman in her 60s? It certainly is a blessing and a great opptortunity for me to explore myself as an actor at this time in my life.”

Al Gore wins an Emmy!

He couldn’t win the presidency (at least the electoral votes) but Al Gore is on a winning streak this year. The documentary he starred in, “an Inconvenient Truth,” won the Oscar this year and now his TV venture, Current: An Interaction Television Network, just won an Emmy!
“We’re trying to open up the television medium,” Gore said.
As he left the stage, he shouted: “More to come! next month!”

The man has learned how to get his message across…

More Emmy arrivals…Jon Stewart, Edie Falco, Marcia Cross, Helen Mirren and more…

I can’t spell her damned name but I’ll try: Jane Kracowski who used to be on “Ally McBeal” then won a Tony for “Nine” and is now on “30 Rock,” She looks like something from the 70s and it was intentional: “I was going for a Jerry Hall, 70s Studio 54 look.”
She succeeded.

Queen Helen Mirren, who I just love, is up for another Emmy for “Prime Suspect.” She won the Emmy last year for “Elizabeth” then won the Oscar and the SAG Award and the Golden Globe etc for “The Queen.” She says after the greatest year of her life, this Emmy nod is “a nice cherry on top of the cake.”
Mirren may be riding an unprecedented career high but she keeps her perspective: “You never get blase but you realize your career and work is made up of ups and downs, you go with the flow a little bit when you’re older.”

Hugh Laurie, nominated for “House,” was asked by Mark Steines who he brought to the Emmys. His answer surprised me: “I’m tragically alone…”

Marcia Cross looks dazzling and doing a red carpet interview is far different from a year ago when she says she was at home, very p;regnant with twins, cooking spaghetti. She and her hubby got married less than a year before the babies were born and have never really had a honeymoon: “When they start sleeping through the night, the honeymoon will start.”

Jon Stewart was asked if he had any advice for Emmy show host Ryan Seacrest: “Don’t drink so much., still have to stand.”

Funny quote: “This is the first time I’ve ever been early to the Emmys…I was lower maintenance this year,’ Eva Longoria said, after missing the red carpet for two years in a row.

Edie Falco says she hasn’t prepared a speech and will miss her TV kids then she added: I’m so happy I haven’t fallen off my shoes.”

Emmy arrivals: Huffman, Macy, Ferrera and Leary and more…

Here they come!
Denis Leary, nominated for “Rescue Me” is on the red carpet with his Mariska Hargitay-look-alike wife. He isn’t planning on winning: “I’m the biggest ‘Sopranos’ fan of all time. I really believe there’s no point in preparing a speech.”

Julia Louis Dreyfuss, up for an Emmy for the ninth time, is still excited and says it’s not something you ever get used to or expect. She won last year. She’s got a pretty purple dress on and her hair is straight, parted down the middle, like Cher in the Sonny and Cher days. If she starts singing “Half Breed” I’m gonna spit out my coke.

America Ferrera looks beautiful. I’m rooting for her to win for “Ugly Betty.” She tells Lara Spencer: “I feel so fortunate and blessed to have a job that is my passion.” She’s kinda star-struck saying, “I think I saw Tony Soprano somewhere.”
Spencer then tries to hand her a package of crackers saying she’ll need a snack in there. America declines.

Rebecca Romijn is there with hubby Jerry O’Connell. She is asked about playing a transgender character on “Ugly Betty.”
“It’s so much fun,” she says of the role. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet other people who have made a transition..The writers have taken this character and made her a human being.”

Felicity Huffman and William Macy are both nominated and told Mark Steines that they forgot it was their 10 year wedding anniversary this summer – at least on the actual day.
Mark asks if they had trouble getting out of the house. I liked Macy’s answer: “It takes me nine minutes. how long does it take to look like a penguin?”

I’m sure Tony Shaloub is a nice guy and his wife, Brooke Adams, is absolutely lovely. But he has won three Emmys already for “Monk” and I’m tired of it! For a minute, I thought maybe he was too for a second: “I feel like the Emmy people might be ready to spread the love a little bit this year.”
Mark Stienes reminds him that he has said that before.
Then Shaloub admits: “I don’t really mean it, it’s just superstition.”

Greg’s Emmy Predictions…

It’s fun to try and make an educated guess so we’ll see how I fare! Will start to live-blog from backstage in a few hours…

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaemmy.jpgDrama Series:
My pick: “Grey’s Anatomy”
Will win: “Sopranos”
It’s the last season of the mob drama. Still, “Heroes” could cause an upset.

Lead Actor, Drama Series:
My pick: Denis Leary (“Rescue Me”
Will win: James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”)
Gandolfini has won three times already and I see a fourth Emmy as a send-off. But Hugh Laurie could just as easily win for “House” while former winners James Spader and Kiefer Sutherland will miss out this time. Personally, I think Leary is absolutely superb in “Rescue.”

Lead Actress, Drama Series:
My pick: Sally Field (“Brothers & Sisters”)
Will win: Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”)
If either of these women won, I’ll be very happy. Sedgwick carries her show while Field is the glue that holds her together. Very different performances but both stellar. Edie Falco could be part of an Emmy sweep for “Sopranos” but she already has three Emmys for her role and the competition is very strong.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series:
My pick: T.R. Knight (“Grey’s Anatomy”)
Will win: Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”)
It’ll be part of a “Sopranos” semi-sweep. If William Shatner wins again, i might have to vomit backstage but if Knight wins, I’ll do a little jig.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series:
My pick: Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers & Sisters”)
Will win: Rachel Griffiths (“Brothers & Sisters”)
She is the class of the field and had some wonderfully emotional scenes. Three “Grey’s Anatomy” stars should cancel each other out with Chandra Wilson having the best chance of breaking out. I don’t see Aida Turturro as part of the “Sopranos” semi-sweep.

Comedy Series:
My pick: “Ugly Betty”
Will win: “Ugly Betty”
It’s a high-quality category with “Entourage,” “The Office,” “30 Rock” and “Two and a Half Men” as competition. But “Betty” stood above the rest in its debut season.

Lead Actor, Comedy Series:
My Pick: Charlie Sheen
Will win: Alec Baldwin
I think Sheen is overlooked because his role is so low-key. But, he is terrific on “Two and a Half Men” and deserving of an Emmy win. Baldwin won the Golden Globe and the SAG Award so the only question is if voters will be turned off by the well-publicized troubles in his private life. If that’s the case, Steve Carell will win.

Lead Actress, Comedy Series:
My pick: America Ferrera
Will win: America Ferrera
Easiest category to call.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series:
My picki: Neil Patrick Harris
Will win: Neil Patrick Harris
I just feel like it’s his year in every way and he is clearly the best thing about “How I Met Your Mother.”

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series:
My pick: Conchata Ferrell
Will win: Jaime Pressly
Personally, I can’t watch “My Name is Earl” mainly because of Jason Lee’s mustache (silly, I know). But Pressly seems to be the one to beat even though Vanessa Williams is the most deserving for “Ugly Betty.” But my sentimental pick is Conchata Ferrell who is an absolute riot on “Two and a Half Men” and elevates any TV show or movie that she’s in.

Miniseries or movie:
My pick: “Broken Trail”
Will win: “Broken Trail”
This seems like a sure-thing.

Lead Actress, Miniseries or Movie:
My pick: Helen Mirren
Will win: Helen Mirren
Mirren is still the queen of voters hearts and should take home the Emmy in this category for the second year in a row. The fact that Debra Messing is even nominated for the fluff “The Starter Wife” shows that Mirren’s only real competition will be two-time Emmy winner Gena Rowlands.

Lead Actor, Miniseries or Movie:
My pick: Robert Duvall
Will win” Robert Duvall
Tough competition but my gut tells me the Oscar winner will prevail for “Broken Trail” over fellow nominees Jim Broadbent, William H. Macy, Matthew Perry and Tom Selleck.

Reality-Competition Category:
My pick: Amazing Race
Will win: Amazing Race
This show is the most ambitious of all the nominees including ratings giants “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars.” It’s so superbly edited and brilliantly paced that each week, you really feel you have gone on an adventure. It should win yet another Emmy in this category.

Variety, Music or Comedy Series:
My pick: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”
Will win: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”
Sorry Letterman, Conan and even Bill Maher, Stewart had another kick-ass year.

Performance – Variety of Music Program:
My pick: Jon Stewart
Will win: Jon Stewart
See above.

Stars party at pre-Emmy party for acting nominees…

When youre nominated for an Emmy these days, life is just one big party.
Among the soirees going on around town Friday night [there are more tonight] was the Television Academys tribute to acting nominees at Wolfgang Puck at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.
It drew nominees Leslie Caron, Lorraine Bracco, Mariska Hargitay, Masi Oka, Neil Patrick Harris, Denis Leary, Sandra Oh, Chandra Wilson, Judith Light, Conchata Ferrell, Holland Taylor, Kate Burton and Tim Daly, among others.
Oka drove up to the valet in old Honda, sputtering with 140,000 miles on it. The Heroes star, nominated for outstanding supporting actor in a drama, wonders if its finally time for some new wheels now that the NBC hit is heading into season 2.

All of the success is still a bit surreal for the young actor to have landed a key role on such a big show.
To be a working actor is already a dream and to be on a great show is like winning the lottery. But to be on a phenomenon and to be here \[as an Emmy nominee\], its like How lucky are we? Its absolutely surreal.
I had profiled Hargitay last year for a cover story I wrote for Orange Coast Magazine and of the 50 or so covers I have done for them over the years, no one was more gracious than Mariska.
Since we did a telephone interview (she was in NYC), this was our first meeting in person.
I loved that article! Mariska said as she greeted me. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Although she is once again nominated for her role in Law & Order: SVU, I wondered if having won last year takes some of the pressure off.
It is much easier, she admits. This is a stress-free year. I came in, had fun playing with \[son\] August. Its just a cakewalk now \[laughs\].
i-236c3a0efdea3ed401baaa3ecc631ee0-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaemmyparty.jpgShes also learned that when it comes to picking what to wear, make confort your first priority: Only wear things that you are really comfortable in. It changes your whole confidence. Dont wear really uncomfortable shoes. That will never work for you.
Bracco, nominated once again for The Sopranos hads the opposite tip: Wear shoes that hurt!
The actress received her fourth nod for her role as Dr. Jennifer Melfi on the series, but her first since 2001.
Its a very nice way to end it really, she says. Im very honored and touched. Like I said, its always nice to be asked to the prom instead of having to ask somebody to go dutch.
What will she do post-Sopranos?
Ive been so far very lucky. I went on a whole bunch of appointments today with people who wanted to meet me for things so I no idea! Whats hard now is to get a good script, a good role. Thats what its all about. I dont care if its film or TV, or cable. Look, Im 53 and Im glad the phones still ringing.

Continue reading “Stars party at pre-Emmy party for acting nominees…” »

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.
Continue reading “Fourth estate in the Third World” »

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
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.

Goodie bags bite back

Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Ray Liotta, Candice Bergen — they’re the latest in the growing list of presenters for the 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 27. They’re also the stars most likely to be speed-dialing their accountants today in light of word from the IRS that award-show gift bags are considered taxable income. So all those preciously packaged free spa weekends, free Botox certificates, free cell phones, free sunglasses and free SUVs will come with very unglam tax declaration paperwork. Yuck. It’s only a matter of time before the stars say keep the swag, show me the money instead. Kinda makes you long for the good old days when celebs graciously appeared on awards shows in exchange for shameless self-promotion.