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‘Before’ bash full of fun & games

Emmy nominees whoop it up on eve of awards

In a party packed with basketball shoot-offs and a golf simulator, the people-watching was the most entertaining part of the fourth annual Evening Before bash benefitting the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

Saturday’s soiree drew a who’s who of Emmy nominees and showbizzers to the lawn at Century Park for schmoozing and a sumptuous barbecue dinner and dessert spread catered by Wolfgang Puck.

Comedy stars seemed to flock together at one corner table, where Will Arnett, Ricky Gervais, John Krasinski, Nick Kroll and Dax Shepard were whooping it up and sharing parlor tricks with a deck of cards.

Other intriguing pairings included “Mad Men’s” Bryan Batt chatting up Patrick Stewart; “Lost’s” Jorge Garcia comparing sci-fi TV notes with “V” star Morena Baccarin; Khandi Alexander giving a big hug to her longtime pal Niecy Nash; and Melina Kanakaredes and Chris Meloni reminiscing fondly about a long-ago TV miniseries that never came to fruition.

Other power conversations spotted: Jerry Bruckheimer and Jeffrey Katzenberg; Peter Roth and J.J. Abrams; Kathy Griffin and Chevy Chase.

The scene was chock full of “Modern Family” cast members — Sofia Vergara, of course, turned heads — who collected compliments and well-wishes as they moved around the circular party space. And the “Glee” gang was well represented too.

Matthew Morrison impressed with his golf skills, using a 7-iron from 149 yards away to try and get closest to the hole in a simulcast golf game that was available to partygoers at one of the many entertainment stations. The free-throw hoops area got a lot of use from execs and nominees looking to blow off steam as the anticipation built for Sunday’s main event.

Showrunners were also out in force enjoying a last respite before the freight train of the fall season leaves the station. No one is going to be busier in the coming season than Chuck Lorre, who’s cornered three stages on the Warner Bros. lot for his CBS comedies: newbie “Mike and Molly,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men.”

“I’m still vertical,” Lorre observed when asked about his workload.

Making his first Emmy party appearance as ABC Entertainment prexy, Paul Lee came stag entering with ABC scheduling guru Jeff Bader and Bader’s wife, philanthropy vet Michelle Bader. Lee need not have worried; he was soon surrounded by folks anxious to get to know him better.

Execs also said they expected to see a slight uptick in the viewership for the Emmycast this year, thanks to the influx of new blood among the nominees.

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