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Awards News
September 11, 2013

Party On!

Emmy nominees celebrate their success at a series of high-flying receptions.

Libby Slate

On Saturday, September 14, Television Academy executive producer of special events Barbara Chase will arrive at Soho House in West Hollywood to oversee the start of the evening reception honoring Primetime Emmy nominees in the main title design category. Once that fête is under way, she'll head over the hill to Academy headquarters in the NoHo Arts District, where the reception for nominees in the documentary and reality programming categories will already be in full swing. The next morning, from 10 a.m. to noon, she'll be at the Montage Beverly Hills for the commercials nominee reception.

Will she be bringing a pillow to nap at any point?

"No," says Chase. "Just a caffeine IV."

She's not entirely joking. From August 25 through September 22 — the day of the 65th Primetime Emmys telecast — Chase will not have a day off. Some of the receptions occurred earlier, such as the costume design and supervision event held at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in July, and the performers' peer group cocktail reception at the Sheraton Universal August 19.

In all, there are twenty-two events, each drawing 100 to 400 attendees. That includes a reception for the peer groups whose members do not receive Emmy nominations: production executives, professional representatives, public relations and television executives. New this year is a diversity-themed reception, honoring current nominees and previous winners and nominees of various ethnicities. Another performers reception, September 20 at the Pacific Design Center, brings the official Academy nominee festivities to a close.

Chase doesn't handle the receptions alone, of course, as she's the first to point out. "It's very collaborative," she says. "There's all the preparation that goes into it before any [nomination] certificate is handed out. [Academy special events manager] Lauren Shoham Springer is amazing at putting it all together — it all works like clockwork. Our registration people [all Academy staffers] are the best ever. They keep everything moving."

Chase's primary non-Academy collaborator is Richard Lauter, president of Savore Catering, with whom she works on staging and décor. "We collaborate," she says, "but he's the one who pulls it all together." While ideas can strike at any time, the two first meet each July to discuss the year's theme and other considerations.

For the receptions held at the Academy — the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre plaza, lobby and sometimes, the theater — this year's theme is "Emmy International," a 1960s airport setting which Chase and Lauter describe as "Mad Men meets Pan Am" with touches of the film Catch Me If You Can and the Sinatra standard "Come Fly with Me." Indeed, Sinatra music mixed with the Beatles and other '60s British bands can be heard throughout most evenings.

"We were involved with the opening of the new Tom Bradley [international] terminal at LAX," Lauter explains of the idea's genesis. "We did research and came upon the Encounter restaurant, which had a cool style — Mid-Century Modern." The restaurant, designed by Walt Disney Imagineering in 1997, is located in the airport's iconic 1961 Theme Building.

Reception guests approaching the Goldenson plaza find a line of luggage trolleys bearing vintage suitcases; rows of airline seating and a lounge with a silk-screened airline-themed mural. After checking in at terminal counters with signage exhorting, "Fly Emmy International," they pass through an entryway that features clocks showing the time in eight world cities. Then, depending on the night, they can then dine on selections from "Air USA," "Island Airways," "Italian Airlines" and "Mediterranean Airlines" served from ticket counters. Bubble-patterned linoleum flooring adds a whimsical period touch.

Miniature suitcases atop the dining counters hold napkins and plastic utensils. A vintage-style departures board over the bar lists the featured offerings of Academy sponsor Grey Goose Vodka. The area where nominees receive their nomination certificates is framed by a structure representing a luggage conveyor belt, complete with suitcases. The backdrop scenes there depict a tarmac with a plane and the LAX Theme Building as well as the Hollywood sign and the Concorde.

The Goldenson lobby has been transformed into a '60s airport VIP lounge, with another eight-clock panel on the bar, furniture and lighting of the time and model airplanes on tabletops. Women in flight attendant uniforms — or stewardesses, in the era's vernacular — serve from airline food-service carts, and there's also a pilot or two in the mix.

The furniture and props were provided by Beverly Hadley of the Universal property department, Robert Greenfield of the Warner Bros. property department, Dan Needham of Green Set, Inc., and Paul Grider of Dazian Creative Fabric Environments. The stewardess uniforms came from a Halloween shop, Chase notes. The miniature suitcases were found on Amazon.

Lauter also designs the Emmy receptions held at other locales. For the September 16 producers' soirée on the elegant third-floor Terrace at the Montage Beverly Hills, for instance, "We're going to carry on the style of the Montage," he says, "with faux stone balustrades, large stone urns with lavender, wrought iron bar fronts and large mahogany tables."

And the guest reaction so far for Emmy International? "People love it," Chase says. "I've had so many compliments."

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