At the significantly more relaxed event than next week's extravaganza, the red carpet became a place for friends to catch up and proud fathers and mothers to snap photos of their children being interviewed. Ugly Betty's Judith Light and Grey's Anatomy's Kate Burton, both up for a guest-star Emmy, had a hard time turning their attention to the press as they plotted to "finally" have dinner together.
With both Elizabeth Reaser and Kate Burton up for the same award as Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, one could perhaps expect some drama in the usual Grey's Anatomy vein, but Reaser assured us there would be no catfight if either took home the award. As a consolation prize, the Grey's actresses did offer some scoop: "Although my character was killed off, I'm coming back as a flashback, according to Shonda," says Burton. "'This is not the end of Ellis Grey,' she said, 'and I'm fascinated by that.'" Ava is back as well, although Reaser squirms and refuses to confirm more than one episode. "I'll get in trouble if I say anything."
Tim Daly, pulling a double stint as nominee and presenter, has every reason to buy into the hype surrounding his new show Private Practice, but on the red carpet he was taking it all with a grain of salt. "Last year when I did a show called The Nine, I tried really hard not to, but eventually I read the reviews and they were better than my mother could have written so I thought, 'This is it,' and it's no longer on television. So I'm trying to stay calm, do my job and let the chips fall where they may." And is his set just a hotbed of wedding talk? "Kate [Walsh] is adorable and Alex is adorable. They're just in this rapturous state, having just gotten married, and it's very cute. Now we have to get to work."
As the stars were ushered inside, reporters scurried backstage to a chaotic air-conditioned tent where almost 100 people would walk through carrying Emmy statues. Unsure of this show's eco status, it can only be said that bottled water imported from Norway probably cancels out the "Recycle Here" boxes that had been positioned around the room.
Half an hour into the show, Elaine Stritch was announced the winner of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance on 30 Rock. Backstage she talked about her fondest memories of the gig. "They're all nuts and that's just a joy. You all know Alec Baldwin's nuts. I don't want to go on dates with him, but he's what I call a fine actor. I hope he calms down and takes it easy."
An hour later there are two Hollywood legends in the house as Leslie Caron, the winner of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, entered the press room and headed straight for Stritch. They congratulated each other and Stritch said Caron's performance on Law & Order was divine. Caron revealed that all it took for her to return to American television after a 20-year absence was "a good script, a good part and a good director." It's been a long time coming.
The night took a fabulous turn when the 16-bleep masterpiece "D--k in a Box" was announced the winner of Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics by none other than Miley Cyrus. The Disney darling avoided uttering explicit words by congratulating the "Team from SNL," but backstage there was no bleeping as the discussion revolved around the use of the word d--k. Since Justin Timberlake was in Vegas preparing for the VMAs, Andy Samberg was asked to give him the good news while doing the interview. "I don't have my phone, but why don't I give his number to all of you. I'm sure he'd like that."
American Idol finally ended their losing streak with an Emmy for their Idol Gives Back special. Backstage Nigel Lythgoe told the press it had been hard convincing Fox to let them tamper with their No. 1 show, and that the two statues and $76 million donated to charity would not give him any clout. "The next thing we're doing is the Next Great American Band, which is going to be very similar to Idol only with bands. We're still haggling with them about that, so no, we're not running our own empire in any way, shape or form." Maybe Ryan Seacrest hosting the Emmys will help. Then again, maybe not.
After what happened last year at the Creative Arts Emmys, academy members may have been swayed to vote for Kathy Griffin just to avoid another outburst. Well, forget that. After taking down J.C. in her acceptance speech, she revealed her Emmy plan backstage: "OK, after last year when I flipped off Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, screamed 'I was robbed, you can all suck my d--k' and stormed out — which I still stand by as a funny bit — I thought, how can I top that? So this year if I lose, I'm going to run up anyway, grab the Emmy and then take it until security takes me to Emmy jail. If I win, I have a fairly offensive speech about Jesus. And I hope I offended at least some people."
With that she ran off the stage, marking the end of the Creative Arts Emmys. And after Kathy Griffin wins an Emmy for Life on the D List, is there really anything left to say? It's the end of the Schmemmys and we're going home.
For more backstage Emmy scoop, check out our peek at this year's green room!
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