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Emmy Parties: MPTF Evening Before, Showtime, NBC, Performers Reception

The Emmy Awards celebrations leading up to Sunday, Sept. 20 started early. Variety was on hand inside the best parties around Hollywood as the stars mingled, noshed and toasted to TV’s finest. Here’s our party report for the night of Saturday, Sept. 19.

MPTF Evening Before, Century Park:

“Better Call Saul’s” Bob Odenkirk has a unique approach to celebrating on Emmy eve. He’s secretly hoping he doesn’t win in the category of lead dramatic actor. Odenkirk shared his neurotic rationale with friends and partygoers at the ninth annual Evening Before bash benefitting the Motion Picture Television Fund. The gathering, as always, brought out a who’s who of the television business to support a cause close to the industry’s heart. All told, the evening raised more than $2 million for the MPTF, a new record.

Odenkirk and the “Saul” contingent were out in force at the party, held outdoors in Century City. The heat was turned up well into the night, which kept guests talking about the triple-digital temperatures projected for Sunday at the peak of the Emmy Awards red carpet.

Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and “Transparent” creator/exec producer Jill Soloway formed a power circle that lasted for a good 20 minutes. It did not go unnoticed that “Veep” star Louis-Dreyfus wore a dark blue dress with a red-white-and-blue trim that looked a lot like bunting.

Jim Carter, aka Mr. Carson of “Downtown Abbey” fame, strolled the circular party space with a confident air– confident that he will not be taking home the supporting drama actor trophy on Sunday. He was preoccupied because the World Cup tournament for the sport of rugby started on Friday, and yet he’s having to watch it virtually through text messages from friends in the U.K. “You don’t show it here,” he said sternly.

The Evening Before party perimeter was ringed as ever by activity booths tied to key sponsors including Target, Delta, Fiat, Netflix and Essie. This year’s addition of the “MPTF Game Show” with trivia questions was a big hit.

Earlier at the pre-party cocktail gathering, Louis C.K. arrived early and made a beeline for Ricky Gervais. They were soon joined by Odenkirk. C.K.’s next stop? Michael Bolton.

While C.K. posed for a photo with “Transparent’s” Jeffrey Tambor and Amazon’s Roy Price, he reassured FX’s Nick Grad, “It doesn’t mean anything, guys.”

In the center of the party were WB’s Peter Roth, Fox’s Gary Newman, Chuck Lorre and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos. Everyone came by to say hello.

Actor Ken Jeong spent a lot of time talking about his comedy roots to Tim Allen, and introducing his wife Tran.

MPTF’s Bob Beitcher escorted L.A.Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who had just returned from an NBA committee meeting in Chicago, having arrived in L.A. at 3 a.m. When asked about the team’s offseason drama in re-upping with rising star DeAndre Jordan, Rivers admitted the story would make a great made-for-TV movie. “They can call it ‘The Takeover,’” he joked.

Also in attendance were Jon Hamm, Tina Fey, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, “Scandal’s” Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn, Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, Octavia Spencer, Mariska Hargitay, Kathy Bates, Christina Applegate, Elisabeth Moss and Kyle Chandler.


Showtime “Emmy Eve” party, Sunset Tower:

“We have a winner in the room,” declared network president David Nevins to the room full of his Showtime family, which included the casts of shows “Ray Donovan,” “Episodes,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Homeland,” “Masters of Sex,” “House of Lies,” “The Affair” and upcoming “Billions” and “Twin Peaks.” Before he called out the nominees — noting how eight of their 10 eligible shows received nominations, and that it was an “amazing achievement” to have “Homeland” back as a nominee (prompting alum Damian Lewis to audibly cheer) — he announced that Joan Cusack had already won for “Shameless.” “So we will not have to go home empty-handed,” Nevins joked.

Nominee Claire Danes — who has already won twice for her portrayal of Carrie Mathison, as Nevins pointed out, and who was joined at the party by husband Hugh Dancy — was thrilled to be going to the Emmys with her “Homeland” family again. “It’s always nice to be asked to the dance, and especially with your colleagues and your peers and friends and family,” she said. Though her character currently struggles with “trying to create a sane healthy life for herself and really surrender to domesticity,” she understand’s Carrie’s appeal. “I think that she’s really complex and full of contradiction and an anti-hero, which television is pretty thoroughly populated by at the moment. But she’s just paradoxical and very compelling, I think for that reason.”

Danes wasn’t the only veteran nominee. For Edie Falco, “It feels better every year.” She felt “Nurse Jackie” stood out because people responded to the storyline: “to the plight of a hospital going under, and regular people just trying to get by.” Matt LeBanc was also quick to note, “it’s not my first rodeo.” To him, “Episodes” resonates because “people like to see what’s behind the curtain” of the entertainment industry. And while Don Cheadle appreciated his nomination for “House of Lies,” he wished his director and fellow cast members had gotten recognition for the show which he feels explores a novel concept. “I’ve never seen a show about business consultants before,” he said. “The kind of rapacious, sort of dirty way that these guys perform is something that is exciting, and people get to live vicariously through us, and it’s something that’s a lot of fun.”

Other guests enjoying a lavish food spread, specialty Ketel One cocktails and spirited five-song performance by Jakob Dylan and Jade Castrinos included Showtime CEO Matt Blank, Mandy Patinkin, Kyle MacLachlan, Josh Stamberg, LL Cool J, Ellen Pompeo, Michael Ealy, Kathryn Hahn, Betsy Brandt, Aida Turturro, Beau Bridges, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman and longtime couple Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts, who left the party hand-in-hand.

NBC party, BOA Steakhouse:

The swanky WeHo steakhouse was bouncing on Emmys eve, as the packed house of industry-ites who’d been making the party rounds feasted on a frenzy of food.

Actors such as “Orange Is the New Black” Emmy nominee Uzo Aduba — who’s set to star in NBC’s upcoming live musical “The Wiz” and came with her sister from the BAFTA tea, after a quick outfit change — was spotted at the raw bar, where crab legs, lobster, shrimp and ceviche was being served. Kate Walsh was sipping on a cocktail at one of the many bars at the indoor/outdoor venue.

Passed trays of sparkling sangria greeted guests who arrived via a red carpet on the Sunset Strip hot spot, where agents, execs, network stars and Emmy nominees indulged in a buffet with a carving station, Sushi Roku hand rolls, mini ice cream cones, a savory donut station — complete with live caramelizing blow torches — and a panini station outside by the photo booth.

“Heroes Reborn’s” Zachary Levi was casually dressed, while Eva Longoria, who’s top-lining NBC’s upcoming midseason series “Telenova,” dazzled in a white pants suit. Upon her arrival, the former “Desperate Housewives” star greeted and kissed America Ferrera (who was there with her husband and dressed in similar white pants suit). Longoria also chatted with NBC chief Bob Greenblatt, who was accompanied by his fellow network execs Jennifer Salke and Paul Telegdy.

Nick and Vanessa Lachey (“Truth Be Told”) made date night of the pre-Emmy’s bash, “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi schmoozed around, “Sharknado’s” Tara Reid walked in with a friend and “The Player” cast members were hanging by the outdoor bar. Ed Westwick, who came from BAFTA, continued to steal the night’s fashion show in his teal suit and bright red loafers, noting how the recent stories about him wanting to become a DJ came of one occasion when he fooled around at a friend’s party, and fans of his acting needn’t fear. What “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler wore prominently was a smile, and for good reason: she’s up for best actress this weekend.

NBCUNIVERSAL EVENTS -- NBCUniversal Pre-Emmy Party at BOA Steakhouse -- Pictured: (l-r) Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment; Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation" -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

Television Academy’s Performers Nominee Reception, Pacific Design Center:

The star-studded Emmy Performers Nominee Reception feted favorite thespians like Anthony Anderson, Jonathan Banks, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Mayim Bialik, Beau Bridges, Tituss Burgess, Richard Cabral, Jim Carter, Alan Cumming, Joanne Froggatt, Seth Green, Tony Hale, Allison Janney, Michael Kelly, Regina King, Matt LeBlanc, Tatiana Maslany, Anthony Mendez, Niecy Nash, Sarah Paulson, Pablo Schreiber and Finn Wittrock. Some within the bunch were celebrating their first and last time with their respective shows at the Audi-sponsored event.

On the red carpet, “American Horror Story” actor Wittrock told Variety that this Emmy season was much different from last year’s. “Last year, I would go to the parties and people would be like, ‘are you on the list? The press line is over there,'” he quipped. “But this year… it’s a fun ride. I honestly feel blessed to act for a living, so all this is extra.”

Meanwhile, Christina Hendricks said that she was sticking close to her “Mad Men” posse for their last Emmy season. “I know a lot of people party hop, but I kinda stick with my people. I usually stick with AMC. That’s my game plan,” she said on the red carpet. “And I hadn’t seen everyone in a while.”

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