By Christy Lemire Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — The red carpet at the Emmys is usually all about celebrities shmoozing each other, reporters shmoozing celebrities and fans ogling them all. But Sunday was also the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, so some stars had their minds on New Orleans and its recovery since the storm devastated the city.
“It’s a good day to think about all the people that didn’t have to help but did,” said John Goodman, whose character on HBO’s “Treme” railed against the government’s inefficiency in sending aid to New Orleans post-Katrina. “They gave a lot of time and money and helped the city get back on its feet.
“There ain’t nothin’ like it on the face of the Earth,” he said of New Orleans.
Susan Sarandon, meanwhile, was in Louisiana a few months ago, shooting the movie “Jeff Who Lives at Home” with writing-directing brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, when the British Petroleum oil spill happened.
“The city is one of the most fantastic original cities that you could possibly find anywhere in the world, and they’re slogging along, but we forget how much they’ve been through and I don’t think there’s been enough progress. And what’s happening now with the oil spill is just horrible,” Sarandon said.
“We’ve been given the impression that it’s somehow been solved but there’s a lot — a lot — of damage that’s still going on, and so I think we need to keep it at the forefront.”
“Modern Family,” winner of three Emmys including best comedy series, features a gay couple who are married with an adopted daughter, giving the show relevancy in the wake of California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage and recently was overturned.
“I can only tell you what people say to me: We get amazing compliments from kids of same-sex marriage families,” Eric Stonestreet, who won best supporting actor in a comedy series, said backstage.
Recently, a man came up to Stonestreet and “said he was raised by two moms and they adopted another daughter. When he was in school, there was no reference to two moms or two dads raising a child. He just wanted to thank me and tell the producers thanks for giving his sister something to point the bullies and the people who make fun of her at school to and say, ‘Look at Mitch and Cam. That’s what my family is and you like them.’”
George Clooney, recipient of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, also talked backstage about Prop 8: “These are those kind of things that take long, long times to change. People will look back at this period of time of history and think of it as an archaic time. It’s a slow rolling process and it will happen eventually.”
Where did real life and Hollywood truly intersect? In the Emmy Awards audience.
Assisted suicide champion Jack Kevorkian and animal sciences expert Temple Grandin, both the subject of HBO movies that earned honors at Sunday night’s Emmy telecast, sat in the audience with the creators of their shows. They got to applaud as the actors who portrayed them, Al Pacino and Claire Danes, won Emmys for their work.
And each got to hear effusive praise from the people who brought their stories to life — along with one of the funniest lines of the night.
“I’m grateful you’re my friend,” said Adam Mazer, who won an Emmy for writing “You Don’t Know Jack,” about the right-to-die activist and his fight for assisted suicide. “I’m even more grateful you’re not my physician.”
“Bones” star Emily Deschanel was one of many actress who wore purple on the red carpet at the Emmys, but her choice was especially striking: a floor-length, one-shouldered gown in a bold, deep purple with tiered ruffles from Max Azria Atelier.
“I just put it on and loved it. I love this color, this particular shade of purple,” Deschanel said. “It was just one of those things where you try on a couple dresses, and they’re nice, but then you try this on and it’s, ‘This is the one.’ … And then, of course, you have to try on about 20 other ones just to make sure this is the one. And then … you go with this one!”
Jane Lynch didn’t spend quite so much time sorting through choices before putting on her own purple gown for the evening, a one-shouldered number with a diamond brooch on the strap from Ali Rahimi, “who makes every dress I wear to these things.”
“He chose the color, he chose everything about it, because he’s really good at this stuff, so I just let him do what he wants,” said Lynch, a winner for best supporting actress in a comedy series for her role as the acerbic Sue Sylvester on “Glee.”
As for all the vibrant colors women wore on the carpet, Lynch said, “It’s kind of the antioxidant colors, like strawberries and blueberries.”
The red carpet at the Emmy Awards can be exciting and glamorous — all those stars, all those jewels, all the glamour! But it’s also a little loud and crowded and swarming with media, on the ground and in the air, as Jesse Tyler Ferguson from “Modern Family” found.
“It’s so unbelievable. It’s very hot,” said Ferguson, who had been nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy series — an award that went to his on-screen husband, Eric Stonestreet. “I feel like there’s, like, a bandit loose or something ‘cause all the helicopters are going. I’m thinking maybe there’s a convict on our heels.
“This is very overwhelming,” he added. “It’s really exciting.”
Some of the ladies from “Glee” were also the ladies in red on the Emmy Awards red carpet.
Jessalyn Gilsig walked up first in a clingy, floor-length Nicole Miller gown with a train and a ruffle down the side.
Why did she choose it?
“I just knew,” she said. “I put it on and I said, ‘You know what? I don’t care what happens tonight, I love my dress.’ It makes me feel strong and it makes me feel happy and hopeful. Those are all good things.”
A few moments later, co-star Jenna Ushkowitz walked up in her own long, red gown, designed by Kevin Hall and accessorized with gold Neil Lane jewelry.
So why did she choose hers?
“I feel like people don’t usually wear red, so that’s why we’re wearing red. I put this one on, it was the first one and it just felt right, you know? It felt good. And you just know.”
Then Gilsig ambled by and the two greeted each other with a “Hey, lady in red.” But Ushkowitz joked afterward: “We should call each other. Last time we wore the same designer.”
Before the Emmy Awards telecast Sunday night, host Jimmy Fallon posted a video on Twitter of himself backstage at the Nokia Theatre preparing for the show.
“I’m so excited,” said Fallon, while gripping his hair anxiously.
Conan O’Brien, also posted on Twitter:
“Hey gang! I’m off to The Emmys on NBC! Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Most “Glee” cast members who attended Sunday’s Emmy Awards wouldn’t divulge much about the cameo Britney Spears recently shot. If they had a chance to meet her at all, they were pretty hush-hush, hoping to maintain some mystery. But Naya Rivera couldn’t help but gush.
“She was just so fabulous,” said Rivera, who plays Santana Lopez on the show. “She’s one of those rare people that you meet and that are exactly like what you think that they were like. She doesn’t disappoint. And she was beautiful and looked fabulous and her body was amazing. That was a highlight in my life.”
Show co-creator Ryan Murphy has said Spears would act in an episode that’s “reverential about her.”
While long gowns and jewel tones ruled the red carpet at the Emmy Awards, Christine Baranski made a statement in her own typically theatrical way: She wore a vintage 1970s black tuxedo jacket and pants by Yves Saint Laurent.
“You know what, I bought this in Paris at a vintage store when I was in Paris seeing the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective,” said Baranski, who lost supporting actress in a drama series for “The Good Wife” to her co-star Archie Panjabi. “He’s my favorite designer and so I decided, why not do the guy thing this year? It’s so much easier than having a train and worrying about your cleavage and all of that. I’m loving it.”
Sunday was yet another opportunity to celebrate for Aaron Paul, who won the Emmy for supporting actor in a drama series for his role on “Breaking Bad.” He took a swig of champagne before climbing onstage to speak to reporters.
“I can’t believe I own her,” Paul, 31, said backstage while looking down at his shiny new award. “I get to take her home. It’s fantastic.”
He then noted one of the benefits of having a birthday that falls close to the ceremony: “Glenn Close actually sang me ‘Happy Birthday’ two days ago, and that was remarkable.”