The voting procedure wasn’t the only Emmy innovation this year: A brave new system for arrivals greeted Emmy guests as they exited their darkened limos into the blinding sunlight Sunday.
As their cars pulled away, the black-tie guests crossed a few feet of red carpet then entered a garage-size tent lavishly decorated with flowers.
Just inside the tent was that most feared appliance of exclusivity — the velvet rope — manned by a crew of burly security guards and nervous publicists. With a breathtaking immediacy, guests learned where they ranked in Emmy’s caste system.
Famous faces went to the right; others went to the left. Heather Locklear, to the right; directors, producers and writers to the left.
Those to the left were basically on a red carpet chute to the Shrine’s front door. They entered an open-air area about the size of a racquetball court, in which one wall consisted of two levels of shouting humans.
Below were the photographers; above them in the bleachers were the fans (mostly young and female). What they had in common was the non-stop yelling of stars’ names.
“It reminds me of the Colosseum,” said Peter Bogdanovich, who entered with fellow cast members from “The Sopranos.” And while the Shrine fans were wildly excited, Bogdanovich thought the Romans would have been their equal since “they were getting to see people die.”
Though there were surely some shy people who would rather die than face this screaming mob, no one expired as they went through the gauntlet of TV interviews, still photographers, video crews and then, for women only, having their gowns critiqued by Joan and Melissa Rivers doing their mother-daughter routine. (Though Emmy host Garry Shandling retaliated with the joke that Rivers looked like a hooker with a microphone).
This new system kept the main red carpet area relatively clear, photographers were able to get a clear shot, and long-train gowns had room to flow. “It used to be you couldn’t move,” said publicist Annette Wolf. “Now you can skip down the carpet.”
Of those skipping down the carpet, the fan favorites by a landslide were newlyweds Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, who were almost the last stars to arrive at 4:40 p.m. If cheering is the modern fan equivalent of gladiatorial thumbs up/thumbs down, they got the laurels. (In comparison, “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch was dead meat.)
The fan explosion for Pitt/Aniston made Cher’s arrival a few minutes later a bit anti-climatic. But at least she made it past the velvet rope.