The Emmy weekend Grand Prix got off to a busy start on Friday as industryites raced around the Westside to eat, drink, schmooze and be merry in advance of Sunday’s big show.
The weather cooperated with balmy temperatures just right for outdoor gatherings, and for the most part, so did the traffic and the valet lines. However, a regular sight outside of every event was a partygoer or two struggling to communicate with Uber and Lyft drivers.
The annual gathering at the Brentwood home of Jay Sures was the first stop of the night for many. By 7:45 p.m., Sures’ spacious backyard was packed with executives including ABC’s Ben Sherwood, Channing Dungey and Patrick Moran, NBC’s Bob Greenblatt, Jennifer Salke and Bruce Evans, AMC’s Josh Sapan and Charlie Collier, FX’s Nick Grad, Paramount’s Brian Robbins, Amazon’s Roy Price, Netflix’s Bela Bajaria, Discovery’s Rich Ross, National Geographic TV’s Courteney Monroe and Carolyn Bernstein, A+E Networks’ Nancy Dubuc and Fox 21 Television Studios’ Bert Salke.
David Madden began collecting congratulations on his new AMC/SundanceTV gig even before he descended the stairs into the party pit. Congrats were also in the air for Sures on his recent elevation to co-president of the agency. A generous array of tacos and margaritas fueled the night.
The Chateau Marmont was overflowing with revelers who partied well past midnight, in keeping with the venue’s storied reputation. At one point the crowd was so dense a waiter was spotted climbing through a window to move between the indoor and outdoor space on the hotel’s second floor.
By the end of the night, the niceties were over and partygoers got down to the business of doping out Sunday’s winners. It became apparent that WME has the high-class problem of competing against itself in numerous key categories. “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman was among the many showrunners who made the rounds. He picked up plenty of backslaps and kudos for bringing broadcast TV back into the Emmy hunt this year with the NBC hit.
Also spotted in the crowd were Donald Glover, Jimmy Kimmel, Aziz Ansari, Vince Vaughn, Larry David, Mahershala Ali, Jessica Biel, Shawn Levy, Joel Kinnaman, Priyanka Chopra, and Van Jones.
Bouchon was bustling with stars and small plates. Reese Witherspoon was definitely a belle of the ball, along with her “Big Little Lies” co-star Laura Dern. Helen Mirren, Kyra Sedgwick, Sarah Paulson, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, and Aubrey Plaza mingled in the crowd that moved from room to room enjoying the creative concoctions of Bouchon boss Thomas Keller.
Also spotted were J.J. Abrams, Jerry Bruckheimer, Ryan Murphy, Ava DuVernay, Seth MacFarlane, Alec Baldwin, Sam Esmail, NBCUniversal’s Bonnie Hammer, Seth Meyers, Colin Jost, Geoffrey Rush, and Golden State politicos Anthony Villaraigosa and Barbara Boxer.
Variety/Women in Film
CBS’ Kelly Kahl, Showtime’s David Nevins, Hulu’s Mike Hopkins, and FX Networks’ John Landgraf were among the executives who were on hand for Variety/Women in Film’s annual bash celebrating Emmy nominees at Gracias Madre. WIF board member Lake Bell, “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” Yvonne Strahovski, “Empire’s” Serayah McNeill and actors include Keegan-Michael Key, Sarah Hyland, and Zoe Lister-Jones took in the scene.
Notably, Emmy nominee Sterling K. Brown couldn’t walk a few feet without being stopped by another partygoer who wanted to say hi or wish him good luck and congratulations. He was spotted chatting with everyone from his on-screen wife Susan Kelechi Watson to Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union. But it was Emmy nominee Dolly Parton who drew the biggest crowd, literally forming a half circle around her to say hello and snap a photo.
The “Stranger Things” cast was out in force at the Hancock Park home of Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, and his wife, Nicole Avant. Finn Wolfhard, Joe Kerry, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin and others from the show mixed and mingled with the likes of Uzo Aduba, Laverne Cox, Ava DuVernay, Donald Glover, Bill Nye, Aziz Ansari, Ashton Kutcher, “13 Reasons Why” star Katherine Langford, and the queen of “The Crown,” Claire Foy.
Sunset Tower was a revolving door of TV stars. Inside the lively reception, “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown hugged friends and stopped for photos, and Terry Crews was spotted — what else? — breaking it down with his wife, Rebecca King-Crews, to tunes from DJ Michelle Pesce. “Scandal’s” Bellamy Young and “Black-ish’s” Tracee Ellis Ross embraced by the pool for a gathering of ABC stars, while Sophia Bush mingled nearby and “New Girl” star Max Greenfield waited at the bar for his drink.
The conversation was, of course, all about Emmys. Yvette Nicole Brown told Variety that she’s rooting for Ross in particular on Sunday night, as well as her “Black-ish” co-star Anthony Anderson, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s” Tituss Burgess, and “Atlanta” mastermind Donald Glover, Brown’s former co-star on “Community.” “I adore him and I want only the best for him,” she gushed.
Gersh honcho Leslie Siebert opened the doors of her Little Holmby home for a party to toast the agency’s many thesps in the Emmy hunt. “This Is Us’s” Mandy Moore, “Transparent’s” Jeffrey Tambor and “Mom’s” Allison Janney took their bows. Courtney B. Vance, Kate Walsh, Debra Messing Daymond John, and Elizabeth Olsen were among those on hand.
Television Academy Performers Nominee Reception
Friday evening also had TV stars gathered at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts for a red carpet and cocktail reception, hosted by the Television Academy.
Jonathan Banks, Michael Kelly, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, Mindy Sterling, Geoffrey Rush, and Natalia Dyer were among the stars who stopped to chat at the red carpet before joining other stars and guests for food and drinks. Others, like Neve Campbell and Shannon Purser paused for pictures and to greet other nominees on the carpet before quietly slinking off to join the party.
Banks, who is nominated for his performance as Mike Ehrmantraut in “Better Call Saul,” said that one of his favorite parts of events like this is catching up with friends. “Some of us haven’t seen each other in a long time. And it’s so wild because Michael Kelly and I have been nominated for forever now and we never win. It turns you into a bitter old man,” he said with a laugh.
While this party was on technically on Thursday night, it deserves much mention. Audi, the official automotive partner and vehicle of the 69th Emmy Awards, kicked off the week with its talent-filled bash at the Highlight Room in Hollywood. “I did go to the [TV Academy’s] Diversity reception yesterday and that was my first ‘party,’ but this is like a partay,” described “Black-ish” actor Marcus Scribner.
A mixture of chandeliers and disco balls were cascading from the ceiling as the likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Madeline Brewer, and Tessa Thompson dazzled on the black carpet.
At 10 p.m., a drove of reporters, Variety included, were still waiting for one of the biggest leading men in television this year, Milo Ventimiglia. The “This Is Us” star never did make it to the carpet. However, his on-camera son, Justin Hartley, made his way down the elevator shortly after his co-star arrived around 10:30 p.m.
While the adult stars didn’t stay on the scene too late, the kids definitely did. Huddled by the DJ booth were Scribner, “Modern Family” actors Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez as well as “Stranger Things” star Caleb McLaughlin, who walked over to the DJ to make music requests. After listening to the score from various shows, including “Game of Thrones,” the dancing finally commenced once he spun remixed hits of Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire.
(Pictured: Laura Dern, David E. Kelley, Reese Witherspoon and Ava DuVernay at CAA)