It's a sure sign that something big is happening when the Audi A8 L TDI sedans start to roll into West Hollywood, each one branded with the Television Academy's Emmy Awards logo. As main sponsors of the big show (and key transport to the stars that night) for the last four years, Audi loves to put on a pre-show celebration of their own, as they take over Cecconi's restaurant in West Hollywood and pull out all the stops.
Which is why the klieg lights filled the sky above the place on the corner of Robertson and Melrose and flashbulbs went into overdrive as television's favorite actors flocked to the annual Audi Celebrates Emmys Week 2014 bash held on Thursday August 21, four nights before the big Primetime Emmy Awards show on Monday August 25.
There were 2014 winners in the crowd, including Allison Janney, who won for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in “Masters of Sex” and “Scandal” star Joe Morton, who triumphed as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series; both took home those prizes back on August 16 at the Creative Emmy Awards ceremony.
“I'd be carrying my Emmy right now,” Morton joked, “but it is too big to fit in my pocket!”
Janney, who'll vie for another 2014 Emmy as the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work in “Mom” during the Primetime show (she already has five of the statues on her mantel), spent much of the party deep in conversation with MSNBC pundit Lawrence O'Donnell, hanging out in the transformed parking lot in front of the restaurant.
Turned into a vast neon-blue lit outdoor garden, that magical space was jam-packed all night long – look one way and there was lovely Michelle Dockery, a nominee for her work in “Downton Abbey,” chatting up sultry Jessica Pare of “Mad Men” fame; look another and there was a gaggle of “Modern Family” favorites, including Julie Bowen (in a fabulous Herve Leger by Max Azria metal-studded orange sheath), Ty Burrell, Sarah Hyland and Eric Stonestreet.
Rivals Aaron Paul, the “Breaking Bad” nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama, and Jon Voight (nominated in the same category for “Ray Donovan”) didn't let the coming competition stop them from enjoying some laughs along with Pooch Hall, who plays Voight's son in the Showtime hit show; Voight looked dapper in a dark suit and shared his awards show style secret with us.
“Years ago, I was going to the Oscars and my tux shirt was too small, I think the cleaners had shrunk it,” Voight recalled. “So I stopped at a shop on the way and bought a long white silk scarf, wore that and no tie with my tux. The next day, all the fashion pundits were writing about my great style! So now I always wear that scarf with my tux, it's a lucky charm.”
Considering that he owns an Oscar and four Golden Globes, his luck may hold this year and he'll be able to add an Emmy to that golden stockpile; meanwhile “Veep” funnyman Tony Hale joined in the night's revelry, too, as the reigning owner of the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series trophy from 2013. He's hoping for a repeat this year, while pretty Cat Deeley of “So You Think You Can Dance” fame (who looked adorable in a slinky hot-pink minidress) is looking for 2014 to be her charm, as it's the fourth year in a row she is nominated for Outstanding Reality Host, but has yet to win.
Everyone at the Audi party was a winner when it came to food, as Cecconi's served up their famous Truffle Flatbread Pizza, Short-Rib Sandwiches and melt-in-your-mouth Risotto Balls; and the music won everyone over, as DJ Michelle Pesce got the crowd dancing into the night.
Other famous faces that squeezed through the packed scene included a very pregnant Zoe Saldana, crowds of handsome men including Derek Hough, Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe and Kip Pardue, and gangs of gorgeous gals – Taryn Manning, Dascha Polanco, Lauren Parsekian, Padma Lakshmi, Courtney Bingham-Sixx and Vinessa Shaw, to name just a few.
And as the Audis rolled up to take the happy partygoers home, one reveler shouted out what everyone else was thinking. “This is always the best party during Emmy week!”
Follow Jenny Peters on Twitter at @jennpeters.