Emmy’s red carpet returns

It's back to basics for arrivals, fans

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Rooftop police sharpshooters out — Joan Rivers in.

That was the change in arrival ambiance between last year’s Emmy ceremony and this year’s event.

The 2001 arrivals entered a hunkered-down, high-security zone, while this year’s guests returned to the established customs of wearing black-tie, walking a red carpet, waving at fans who gathered in bleachers and planning to slip away to parties after their categories are announced.

Even the demonstrators with signs equating TV viewing with the promise of eternal damnation were back.

Though there was certainly a heavy police presence — and guests entered through a bank of metal detectors — normalcy was back — and it was warmly embraced.

“The contrast from last year’s nightmare makes for a new enthusiasm,” said Showtime’s programming prexy Jerry Offsay. “There’s a new perspective on what we do.””The thing that struck me when I arrived was the sound of the fans in the bleachers,” said ATAS chairman Bryce Zabel. “That wasn’t happening last year. We are back to business.”

Bryce added that the TV Academy “lives and dies by success of the Emmys” and is determined to make them “highly respected and highly viewed.”

Another sure sign of normalcy was that guests made little effort to arrive early. In contrast to this year’s Oscars, when not a limo was in sight 20 minutes before showtime, there were still hundreds of guests on the red carpet after the Emmy’s 5 p.m. start time.

A few minutes before, Tom Hanks was seen quickly moving along the carpet before stopping to greet CAA’s Richard Lovett: “I have to go rehearse the Oprah segment. Go escort my wife.” Then he waved towards the throng near the entrance and said, “She’s the best looking woman on the carpet.”

Winfrey, who was receiving the Bob Hope achievement award, didn’t arrive until 10 minutes later.

The only complaint from some guests was that they had “valet parking passes,” but this turned out to be for a self-park lot six blocks away. They then were shuttled to the Shrine on a van that featured a policeman in the front seat. One woman said that when her van passed a sheriff’s bus transporting prisoners, the irony was priceless.

One condition that affected all of the arrivals was the temperature: 90-degree, make-up melting heat. Among the quips: “Good thing it wasn’t in Pasadena”; “What a day to wear black”; and “I should have a parasol.”

Despite the heat, there was a genuine feeling of enthusiasm among the guests. Nicki Micheaux, who came with the cast of “Six Feet Under,” was attending for the first time (“I’m the new girl on the block”) and said the experience was “like a fairy tale.”

AOL TW honcho Jeff Bewkes said he felt “grateful and conflicted” by the company’s wealth of nominees because some of them are in categories where they compete against each other.

Bewkes’ boss at AOL Time Warner, CEO Richard Parsons, pointed to the HBO noms and said, “It’s another year in that crescendo thing they got going.”

And Brian Grazer, who has a nod for producing “24,” said his “professional stakes lie in film. For three months before the Oscars I was apoplectic and nervous. Last night I realized: ‘Hey tomorrow’s the Emmys.’ ”

“Sex and the City” exec producer Michael Patrick King said the arrival experience made him “a little dizzy. I’m feel like I’m in suspended animation. I think they lower the oxygen on the carpet.”

“It’s so amazing how long it takes people to be get here in their career and then it’s over like that,” added King. “On the way over, my mother said, ‘It’s such a long way from your house.’ I said: ‘It’s a long way from waiting tables at Brew Burger as well.’ ”

Leslie Hope and Kiefer Sutherland

John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck

Nancy O’Dell

Jane Kaczmarek and husband Bradley Whitford

Shaun Robinson

Stacey Gualandi

Dana Devon

The Osbournes

Matthew St. Patrick

Jeri Ryan

Jorja Fox

Paula Abdul

Alec Baldwin

Gail Berman with her husband

Robert David

George Eads

Penny Johnson

CCH Pounder

Melissa Rivers

Kathryn Hahn

Mary Hart

Kevin Sorbo

Maria Menounos

Debra Messing

Leeza Gibbons

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