The carpet's not red
Emmy night discoveries by a woman in a brown plaid dress
Here’s the Emmys afterglow post I promised you.
I also promised a post on ‘the dress,’ but I forgot, so here’s THAT post in four sentences:
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I designed my dress for the Emmys, because I’m a stARTist and OF COURSE!
I started doing an edgy, long, flowy black thing with three huge white polkadots…and I ended up in brown plaid. That’s how the creative process works. More about that later.
Well, okay, I’ll just tell you now…
I certainly wanted to get my arty fashion freak on, but as the event drew nearer I shifted to a mother-of-the bride sensibility. I did not have the fashion courage to out-bold the nominee, Taylor, who also designed her dress. She was stunning in emerald green with black and silver chain accessories! Fit check her all night long!
But let’s start from the beginning…even before the fabric shopping.
My firstborn daughter, Taylor Kay Phillips, a writer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, was nominated for an Emmy for “Outstanding Writing for A Variety Series” – as was her husband, Felipe Torres Medina, a writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. They both got to bring plus-ones, and they both brought their moms! (I know. Unspeakably cool.) #momnight
I didn’t know what to expect of the evening except, duh, maybe my first red carpet experience. And even though this is her second nomination, Taylor didn’t know what to expect either. That’s because the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards was unusual and several-months delayed, and hers is an unusual category.
Anyway, here we go.
Emmys Day, 8:45 a.m.: I roll into Taylor’s Beverly Hills hotel room for our hair and make up.
Taylor’s done this a few times, and I expected to feel pampered. It was actually a bit stressful. As a 60+ woman, I felt uncomfortable with some of the “drama” the artisans were adding. But Taylor said all the right things to me, like “false eyelashes are essential for good pictures, and it will be nighttime by the time anyone looks at us!”
We spent the afternoon doing logistics, purse packing, and last-minute dress pressing – with Taylor responding to requests from her fellow nominees to tie their bowties.
I offered to help, just to feel helpful.
“No, thanks mom. It calms me down.”
I get it.
While she was occupied, I packed my evening bag. Taylor would not have liked seeing this “Team Taylor” banner, because her writing team’s category is truly a team award…all for all! And her teammates don’t know that this “Taylor” banner is tongue-in-cheek KC Chiefs/Taylor Swift merch. But, shhhh, don’t tell her that I had it rolled around my lipstick all night long.
Emmys Day 3:15 p.m. We’re called to the hotel lobby to meet our driver for the day and head to The Peacock Theater in downtown LA. This was not our driver’s first rodeo. He brought water bottles and fancy cookies.
But getting through the maze of security, closed streets, and the congestion of other black vehicles was an adventure that took more than an hour.
The Emmys is a LIVE show, so there is no late arrival contingency.
Hello, stress. Hello, snickerdoodle.
Eventually, we pull up to the bustling drop-off staging area and the first Emmy’s security checkpoint. Yes, someone helped us out of the car and, yes, we felt like princesses.
I don’t know what time it was. Let’s say it was 4:30 and the show starts at 5. Yikes. Red carpet, here we come!
This is the part where the carpet forgot to be red. We are definitely walking on carpet. But it is charcoal grey. Except for that one place where someone dropped and stepped on an Altoid, where it’s a dusty grey. I’m sure the carpet is red somewhere. But it was NOT RED there at the Peacock Theater.
Taylor wanted to wait to go through the carpets and photography spaces with her coworkers, but we quickly saw that it was going to be impossible to keep a group together. So we pulled her team together as best we could and made our way through the beautiful, glittery, melange.
Emmys Day 4:47 p.m. We enter the theater to find our seats. I’m stunned at how empty and quiet the theater is just 13 minutes until show time. I’m curious, not stressed. (Not my circus.)
Then, THE FUN BEGINS! Because for the first time that day, I get to see my handsome son-in-law and his mom!
Felipe’s mom, Martha, came from Bogota, Colombia, and this was half the thrill of the whole shebang! We didn’t get to spend a lot of time together, because the kids’ shows have different pre-parties and they even stay in different hotels. Our seats are across the aisle from one another, because, as you will recall, Taylor and Felipe ARE COMPETING in the Emmys writing category.
We hug and talk for a few minutes then turn to get into our seats. I nearly bump smack into an A-lister who I know happened to be on Felipe and Martha’s flight from New York. I have to bite my tongue to keep from saying “Oh, hi! I heard you had to detour through Toronto due to the midwest cold snap, etc. etc.”
I DID NOT SAY IT. I SWEAR. I did not do this Midwestern small talk thing because — and only because — this is the kind of thing that gets moms uninvited to after parties.
Speaking of moms. Two of Taylor’s teammates brought their moms, too! #momnight
Emmys Day 4:52 p.m. PA announcer strongly informs us that the LIVE Emmys show will begin in EIGHT minutes and anyone NOT in their seats will NOT be in their seats but on the other side of the guarded doors.
Then, even scarier, we hear a taped announcement from the mom of show host Anthony Anderson, telling nominees that if they don’t keep their acceptance speeches to the allotted time, there would be no gentle walk-off music. SHE will mom-yell at them from her seat in the third row. (It happened, and it was hilarious.) #momnight
Emmys Night 5:00 p.m. The show begins! “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson enters his “living room” following a title card for “Mister Anderson's Neighborhood.” It’s perfect.
Emmys Night 5:?? p.m. Arsenio Hall takes the stage. Taylor tenses. It’s her category. Deep breath.
Oh. Oh. Oh. What? Wait. Oh. Ahhhhhgh!
Yes, we heard it right!
Taylor’s coworker, Sofia, gave a newsworthy acceptance speech.
The seat next to me…and the seat in front of me…and the seat in back of me are empty because THE TEAM FROM LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER WON!!!!!!
They all go to the stage and the moms shoot video to the last second.
They’re gone. For a long time.
I know to expect this, because last year when they won (did I tell you that? The writing for the show has won the category for 8 years. This is Taylor’s second Emmy!)
Confession: while they were backstage doing interviews and signing pledges not to sell their Emmy’s to carnival barkers, moms were on our phones.
I checked my texts and socials…and maybe responded to one or two bossy ones.
I’m glad I did, because friends then sent me television snapshots with better views than I had from my seat. Thank you!
It was a fabulous awards program, packed with humor, nostalgia and throwback sketches for my generation. The new show, ‘The Bear,’ swept all of its categories, tying ‘Succession’ for most wins of the night. Christina Applegate got a standing ovation, presenting a brave, comedic front amid her MS battle, and boomers like me loved reunions for ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Ally McBeal,’ ‘Cheers’ and more.
Then, we partied like we remembered 1999.
Of the dozens of after parties, five had buzz as “the big ones” — the Governor's Ball, HBO, Disney, Netflix and Apple TV+. We went to two of them, The Governor’s Ball and the HBO After Party, back in Beverly Hills.
The Governor’s Ball was big and grand and over-the top. I could write for hours – the people, the music, the canapés that showed up just when we were worried we shouldn’t drink until we ate a little something!!!
But we must move on.
Next, we went by foot to an exclusive off-book soiree in an undisclosed location – to meet up with Taylor’s dad and my husband of 39+ years, Cary Phillips. (Our younger daughter, Tess, had been hanging and celeb-watching with Cary, but she had just come off a big day of travel, so she peeled away to her West Hollywood apartment before we arrived. She was Taylor’s plus-one last year, so it was okay that she answered the call of her jammies.)
Next, finally… H. B. Ooooh my gaaawwwwd!
This was the glittery, heady “I could get ‘COVID from an A-lister!” part of the night. Presented at the San Vicente Bungalows, it was everything I never knew an Emmys party would be.
Outside, the HBO party served the papperazi treatment – but you guessed it, no red carpet.
A lot of the big nominees and winners of the night were HBO shows, (Succession, Bear, Jury Duty), so this was a party teaming with celebs that even I recognized, thanks to my daughter’s pre-Emmy’s homework. It also had the smoothest body guards, who I at times mistook for B-listers.
The venue was a close, winding, bamboo rainforest-y place. A place where you wind up close to people without intending to. I don’t hear out of my right ear, so even though I was close enough to overhear a conversation between two A-list actors, I didn’t pick up a word. I wouldn’t tell you if I did, because 1) I worked in p.r. most of my life, so I know better, and 2) If I say anything more, I will never get to step on a red carpet.
I could have stayed ALL NIGHT at the HBO party! Friends and my designated-driver husband know this about me – I may resist going to a party, then once I settle in, I never want to leave.
But my little two-time Emmy winner is clearly exhausted. So we call it a night.
I had stayed at her hotel the night before the Emmys. But that night, I planned to stay downtown with my husband. So we said our goodbyes.
I tried not to be mom-mushy. I’m so so so so so so proud of this amazing woman. She gives us such joy.
“One last picture?” I call from the car.
She always knows how to end a story.
P.S. As we’re driving away, our driver says “I have tears in my eyes. She is a beautiful, loving spirit. You must be very proud.”
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