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Emmys: Potty Humor and Red Carpet Rolling

(Posted September 16, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

A quick warning yell toward the bathroom stalls went unanswered, so five guys filed into the mirror-lined women's lounge for a chat.

Three days before Sunday's 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, executive producer Ken Ehrlich was fielding joke ideas from writers and scouting locations for a remote shot live from a Shrine Auditorium latrine.

"I want this lit for the rehearsal tomorrow. Either outside, inside, or whatever," Ehrlich told the stage manager.

Potty humor is definitely not off limits at the first big Hollywood awards show following Hurricane Katrina. Silliness, including a singing Donald Trump, is part of the point.

"Maybe this is the moment to start the healing process," said Ehrlich. "One of the ways people heal is by being distracted."

The awards show will blend lightweight distractions with heavy reminders of the tragedy and calls to help the victims a delicate mix overseen by host Ellen DeGeneres. She has experience with such things, having hosted the twice-delayed Emmycast after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. She also grew up in New Orleans.

The producer's personal set tour with The Associated Press continued through narrow passageways and past a plush dark curtain onto the main stage. The show's set, featuring a huge stylized TV camera and working video screen, was being pieced together.

Huddling again with the writers, including DeGeneres' brother Vance, Ehrlich shooed away a reporter as they decided whether the Emmy ceremony would conclude with a touch of comedy or emotion.

Few details of DeGeneres' hosting duties were deemed reportable by Ehrlich before showtime, but suffice it to say the comedian will completely redefine the traditional role of an award show host.

Ehrlich also wouldn't reveal the contents of several pages of script delivered by coordinating producer Danette Herman, which she called "powerful" and seemed to relate to the storm. He did say, however, that he's comfortable with celebrities speaking their minds about the tragedy.

"They're not rocket scientists, some of them. They're not statesmen, they're not world leaders. But people listen to what they say," he said. "I don't even care about the reason they're doing it. Because at the end of the day, it raises money, it raises awareness."

Elsewhere on the Shrine's massive stage, workers unspooled cables, mumbled into microphones and flashed a kaleidoscope of colored lights in preparation for weekend rehearsals. "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria's first presenter lines appeared on a teleprompter positioned in the seating area.

Head writer David Wild said e-mail "negotiations" with the presenters over what they would say were mostly finished. He credited Ehrlich with lending him leverage by overstuffing the three hours.

"There's so much show, if anybody has a problem (with a line), that's my punishment: to cut it out entirely," he said, smiling broadly.

Outside the auditorium, three stagehands in T-shirts and shorts rolled out the rug as news cameras caught the scene. Then they rolled it back up. Then they rolled it out again.

This is Hollywood nothing is ever done in a single take. The cameras needed a different view of the action.

One reporter looking on was Clay Aiken, the runner-up in the first "American Idol" who is now a correspondent for an infotainment show. Later he milled around inside the Shrine, where the seats were labeled with Emmy nominees' names and photos.

He tossed aside "Idol" judge Simon Cowell's placard and sat rebelliously in the seat. Then he settled dreamily into the empty second-row seat between those reserved for Longoria and "Housewives" co-star Nicolette Sheridan.

"I'm gonna do my best to try to be in this seat on Sunday night myself," Aiken told his camera, arms around the placards.

Cast members from "Desperate Housewives," "The West Wing" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" get primo seats. The producers of "Survivor" and "Amazing Race" will receive a dose of their own reality with seats in the 26th row the very back of the nominee section.

It seems scripted TV still rates at least at the Emmys.

Source: Yahoo! News

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