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Part 2—How to win an Emmy. Or not…

How did I get to the Emmys? see Part I here.

I stood at the entrance to the red carpet at the 2018 Emmys. (Actually, it was gold this year, just to confuse us.) My daughter had gone on ahead with the rest of her Full Frontal team nominated for Emmys, so I was with a small group of plus-one guest parents and partners. The guards at the gate looked doubtfully at my ticket, and then back to me.

I felt sorry for them, imagining their internal dialog. “She doesn’t look like an Emmy nominee. On the other hand, she’s a chubby grandmother in a rented gown, so she probably isn’t a deranged celebrity stalker or a Republican.” I gave them my cheesiest grin and fluttered my fake eyelashes. They scanned my ticket, and I was in!

There was a sound like waves breaking—if waves were made up by everyone screaming the same name at once. “TA-RA-JI!” The fans crowded onto a raised walkway behind the Emmys background banners leaned down, waving their phone cameras.

Taraji P. Henson [Image credit: Television Academy]

Now, I haven’t had a television in over twenty years. So unless a star was on Happy Days (You were SO there for me that night, Fonzie!) there was no way I’d recognize them. I had no idea what a Taraji was, but I could see a beautiful young woman in a dress that made my inner five-year-old princess weep.

The wave broke again, and this time it was screaming, “KIT! Over here, KIT!” A middle-aged lady’s voice rang out over the crowd. “Kit! You’re my favorite actor EVER! All I want from LIFE is a selfie with you. Kit, PLEEEEASE!”

I know it’s been on TV for ten years so I was almost certainly the only person in California who could say this: I’ve never seen Game of Thrones and I didn’t recognize Kit Harington. But if I ever run into his mother, I’ll tell her she raised one very nice boy. The actor jumped up on the barricade, holding on with one hand while he accepted the fan’s phone and took the selfie of the two of them with the other. The delighted lady looked like she was going to pass out. We all moved on, but not before I heard a familiar voice ring out behind us. “John! You’re my favorite actor EVER! All I want from LIFE is a selfie with you. John, PLEEEEASE!”

Then we were inside the theater rushing to our seats as the screens in front warned the show was about to start. A woman bumped into me and I looked up to see a worried-looking Sandra Oh. Before I could fangirl a greeting, we passed each other.

Tracee Ellis Ross attends the 70th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

There was a roadblock ahead of me. A pink one. A gorgeous woman wearing a dress big enough to have its own zip code was trying to fit everything into her seat. Unfortunately, her dress was impersonating a parachute collapse, or perhaps one of those carnivorous flowers attempting to swallow her whole. She was valiantly keeping her head clear, but it was anybody’s guess who would win.

At last we were all in our seats, the show started—and I realized why I haven’t missed television in the last twenty years. But that was okay, because I realized something else: the Emmys aren’t real television. They’re a fabulous trip to a zoo filled with exotic, beautiful creatures native to places we can only read about but never get to live in. They are there to be gazed at, admired, and occasionally sniff each other’s butts.

But the Emmys are nothing if not educational. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things I learned:

  • Q. Isn’t that my seat? A.If you get up to get some champagne during one of the approximately 200 commercial breaks and you’re trapped behind an aggressive pink dress so you don’t make it back before the show continues, someone will sit in your seat. It’s their job. The Emmys hires seat fillers, a small army of well-dressed people (identified by discrete green ribbon pins) whose role is to sit in empty seats in case the camera pans the audience. Over the evening, I chatted with several and discovered they were students, fans, and one housemother at local college sorority (who was wearing diamante flip-flops that I really lusted after). They all said it wasn’t as much fun as they had hoped, because they had to watch the audience rather than the show.
  • Q. Why are the Emmys on a Monday night? A. Because they are on NBC, which means Saturdays are for Saturday Night Live (but they would all be in LA getting their 700th Emmy), while Sundays are sacred to religious broadcast (Sunday Night Football).
  • Q. If he didn’t win, would she ever get married? Everybody was charmed by the totally Hollywood proposal of Emmy winner Glen Weiss (for directing the Oscars telecast). His acceptance speech talked about the death of his mother two weeks earlier, and went on to propose to his girlfriend. The only Hollywood tropes missing were a small lost child and a dog.

  • Q. What about those $60K gift bags with the jewelry, free trips, and celebrity pet treats? A. They exist (see an unpack here), but only for top fifty or so A-list celebrities. However, Samantha Bee said she did get a pair of gold flip-flops. She seemed pleased.
  • Q. And all those fabulous Hollywood parties? A. After the show, we walked across the street to the Governor’s Ball. And okay, yeah… it was completely, totally, over the top Hollywood. Professional singers and dancers were risking life and limb to perform on platforms high above the crowd, there were life-size Emmy statues, and the gigantic room was ringed with food stations serving things like gnocchi with truffle shavings and lots of other fabulous food that everyone ignored. “No,” my daughter told me. “Nobody in Hollywood eats actual food. You just come here to find the one or two people you want to meet, and then go on to the next party.”
  • Q. Where do TV people live? A. As far as I could tell, everyone lives in New York or Los Angeles. I suppose there might be alternate species (“viewers”) there in the middle, but nobody talks about that.   
  • Q. Are stars just like us? A. Nope. As a rule, they’re taller, and wear much better clothes. While my daughter chatted to a friend from her standup days, I looked up (and up and up) at a tall young man in a dazzlingly blue tux that might have been a fashion statement, or perhaps the last rental available for someone that tall. He’d won an Emmy that night for a Netflix filmed version of his comedy show which, amazingly, I’d actually seen. (Due to multiple international flights in the same month, I’d already watched everything else on the entertainment channels—including movies with animated rodents—and out of desperation turned to his show.) So I congratulated him. He seemed surprised, said he never expected to win, and thought there might have been some kind of mistake. Then he asked me if I really thought he’d done a good job. I didn’t want to share the whole no-TV-for-20-years thing, so I just assured him that his was one of the best TV shows I’d seen in the past twenty years. At least.

An extremely charming gentleman saw us struggling to take a selfie and offered to take our picture. My daughter asked him to take one with us so his (not pleased) companion ended up taking our picture. Afterward someone said they were amazed because “he never does that”. So I asked my daughter who he was and she said she couldn’t remember, but he looked famous. Then on the flight home, I decided to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (the BIG Emmy winner that night) and saw our mystery white knight, Kevin Pollak, as the father-in-law who “saved thirteen Jews”.


So here it is, your chance to win your VERY own Emmy-ish gift bag.

Want to win your own special gift bag? I’ve put together one for each of the places that Emmy nominees live. (ie: Los Angeles and New York).

NOTE: I was going to put in my (used) false eyelashes from GlamSquad, but even I had to admit the ick-factor there…

New York Emmy-ish gift bag—contains one (slightly used) ticket to Governor’s Ball, box of New York magnetic poetry, handy folding mirror with map of New York subway system, Subway Stops jewelry box with TRUMP Small Hands soap, and autographed copy of Life Begins When The Kids Leave Home And The Dog Dies)

Los Angeles Emmy-ish gift bag—contains one (used) ticket to 2018 Emmy Awards, gold flip-flops, mug with “She Persisted” quote, pull-back self-propelled surfer van, and autographed copy of Life Begins When The Kids Leave Home And The Dog Dies)

To win your gift bag, all you have to do is add a comment about your own favorite celebrity encounter. (I’ll draw for winners.)


Samantha Bee: What’s your favorite TV show?
Me: Uhhh… Well, I only watch your show and World’s Most Extraordinary Homes. So I’d say your show. For sure.
Samantha: Thanks?

PLEASE do not forget to add your stories of celebrity encounters in Comments below to be entered in this contest. Winners will be announced in one week on my next Emmy post, along with my proposal for a new show that’s definitely possibly going to be a sure-fire Emmy winner.