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Emmys 03: Partying HBO Style

It’s not just TV, it’s HBO. And when HBO throws a post-Emmy Awards party, it’s not just a party, it’s a blowout. And when HBO throws a blowout, a host of A-listers from up and down the dial turn out, including famous faces from Sex in the City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Six Feet Under and, of course, the night’s biggest winners, The Sopranos.

This year’s post-Emmys bash was held in a huge tent outside the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, and was lushly decorated in a sort of So Cal motif with banana-leaf print pillows and the most remarkable multicolored glass sculptures and matching chandeliers–big, illuminated, pastel-colored glass flower petals that created the feeling of an enchanted grove. A grove divided into sections for each of HBO’s nominated series and movies, though there was much mingling in between.

Among the earliest big-name arrivals were Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, who entered the party hand-in-hand, and admitted they hadn’t thought much about the future beyond the final season of Sarah’s show. Kristin Davis scampered in with her eye-catching purple gown calling out fashion dish to the red carpet media, followed closely by co-star Kim Cattrall (Cynthia Nixon was an apparent no-show).

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Once the ladies had arrived, the action centered squarely at the Sex and the City section, where Sarah would frequently pick up the three-tiered dessert tray and pass it around so everyone within reach got a tart or chocolate-covered strawberry–never seeming to eat anything herself, though. Hubby Matthew bowed out early but kept in close contact with his sweetie by cell phone. Kim collected many hugs and lots of compliments on her dress (which looked better in person than on TV) but skipped out of the party after an hour or so, at the height of the party, stopping on the red carpet to share a sexy kiss with new arrival Ellen DeGeneres. Sarah exited about 11 p.m., planning a rendezvous with her man, but Kristin was in it for the long haul, holding hands with Evan Handler, her TV husband, and having lengthy animated conversations with just about everyone–she may have never sat down!

The arrival of The Sopranos crew enlivened the second phase of the evening, with ever-shy Emmy winner James Gandolfini politely working the room but never stopping too long. Although tables at the show’s section were literally littered with Emmys, winner Edie Falco, who arrived with Stanley Tucci, said she left her trophy “sleeping” at a safe locale. And while he was emotional at the awards ceremony, Emmy winner Joe Pantoliano was all tough-guy machismo when he appeared, taking great glee in chastising Jay Leno’s Ross the Intern.

Only slightly less enthused was the Six Feet Under cast–despite coming empty handed, they were still ready to party. Peter Krause and Lauren Ambrose commiserated over cocktails in the showy gazebo in the party’s open-air smoking area, while Freddy Rodriguez worried about how late to stay out–he had a 7 a.m. table read for a guest spot on Scrubs the next morning. Frances Conroy mentioned that her co-star Rachel Griffiths couldn’t make the awards, as she’s nearly eight months pregnant and back home Down Under. All things aside, it was a fine Emmy night for the troupe, said series creator Alan Ball, adding slyly, “aside from the fact that our show got totally slammed and shut out! I intend to get really rip-roaring drunk and try to do something that will not only embarrass myself but also HBO, and hopefully AOL Time Warner at the same time.”

The hungry and thirsty Everybody Loves Raymond cast trickled in one right after the other, led by series creator Phil Rosenthal, clutching his Emmy and his wife, series regular Monica Horan (who plays Robert’s new wife Amy). An enthused Doris Roberts went straight to the bar as soon as she got in, while Patricia Heaton, tiny and hard to recognize in person, bummed a cigarette from a partygoer. Ray Romano, eager to get a plate of food for his wife, was thrilled by his series’ great showing. “I was not disappointed that I lost, because I felt that since the show won, that’s the better of the two,” he said. Did the big night inspire Ray to keep the show on another year? “Not so fast! We’ll figure it out.” Brad Garrett was the last to arrive and made a beeline for a far-off table, where he could chow down his full plate of food away from the main mingling area.

The Odd Couple of the evening was Thora Birch and Francis Ford Coppola, who entered hand-in-hand and sat at a table all by themselves, Thora snuggled up underneath Coppola’s arm. As they left the partygoers were more interested in meeting the legendary, 64-year-old The Godfather director than the 21-year-old Emmy-nominated actress. Others in and out of the party included Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, Michael Imperioli, David Chase, Michael C. Hall, James Woods, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, Robert Wuhl, Stockard Channing, Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, George Lopez, Bonnie Hunt and Willie Garson.

Just when it seemed to be slowing down around midnight, Phase Three began with the arrival of Jennifer Aniston (sans hubby Brad Pitt), Courteney Cox and David Arquette. (David Schwimmer was also there briefly but wasn’t spotted hanging with his co-stars). William H Macy also arrived with wife Felicity Huffman and two shining Emmys. He said he had no idea he’d be clutching one, let alone two, trophies at night’s end. “When I’m up for these things, I always lose. So who knew?” he said. “‘It’s an honor just to be nominated, blah, blah, blah’..That’s my usual line.”

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Jennifer and Courteney worked the room together, chatting with industry executives like CBS president Les Moonves, whose date was Big Brother host Julie Chen. Suddenly, in walked Garry Shandling, Mike Myers and Rob Lowe, commandeering the Friends and a table in the Sex and the City section, where they would remain until the very end of the party talking about everything from Courteney’s early morning pantyhose emergency to how much Mike was moved by the Emmys’ tribute to John Ritter. “I was happy to see my fellow actors on The West Wing win a fourth consecutive team win,” said Rob, now starring in The Lyon’s Den. “It’s been a very proud week for me, to have that and then my own show premiere in the same week. It’s very a very humbling, grateful week.”

They closed out the night and didn’t leave until after the bars had closed, the food was put away and the music ended. On her way out, a still-perky Jennifer Aniston told Hollywood.com she had a lot of fun at the party and it was a great night all around.

It should be noted, however, that lip-lockers Garry Shandling and Brad Garrett definitely did not leave together.

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