Emmys 2014 Countdown: Everything You Need To Know About Tonight’s Governors Ball

Event producers reveal politics of the seating chart, their immunity to big names rushing off to other parties, hungry guests deploying their own doggie bags and why all those rainbow patterns in the ballroom are not about gay rights

Cheryl Cecchetto
Getty Images

Wondering where HBO front-running nominees Matthew McConaughey or Julia Louis-Dreyfus are sitting at the 66th Emmy Awards Governors Ball?

That insider’s secret is easy to solve, for the moment you get to your brilliantly hued table, after the show, you’ll find a complete list of attendees and their table numbers slipped in along with the official program at certain seats.

What isn’t so easy is actually seeing the top television names sitting in their seats, for the Governors Ball is all about the schmooze, as winners, losers and every one of the other 3800 guests will be working the room. Plus, while the ball is a hot ticket for some, for those on the A list it’s often just the first in a series of Emmy after parties.

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Cheryl Cecchetto taking charge of the festivities, photographed for TheWRAP by Joe Scarnici on August 16, 2014.

And therein lies the challenge for Sequoia Productions’ head Cheryl Cecchetto and Governors Ball Chairman Russ Patrick (below), the duo who spearhead the gala every year.

“Virtually everybody comes here. Was that the case years ago? No. Now, this is the must-attend party,” Patrick told TheWrap. “The challenge is: how do we keep people here?”

It’s a challenge that Cecchetto, who has produced the ball for the past 17 years, isn’t very worried about, especially since the show has shifted from Sunday to Monday night this year.

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“When I started this job, the Creative Arts and the Primetime were like 2000 and 2200 people, and now we’re looking at 3500 and 3700. We have grown over a thousand, so something is going right. I really don’t worry about people moving on,” she admits.

“What I think about is producing an event that is entertaining. One that is so fabulous, why would you want to move? And you’re all the way downtown here, too. You gotta get in your car. Moving isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. Plus, a lot of the after parties have dropped away, as this party has gotten bigger.”

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So they’re doing keeping people enthralled this year, with lasers, LED lights and Versa Tubes for starters, transforming the L.A. Convention Center West Hall into a “Kaleidoscope of Color” because, as Patrick explains, “this happens to be the 60th anniversary of the first national color telecast. It was an NBC show, the Rose Bowl Parade show, so we’re evoking the spectrum of the color television with all of the design.”

Which means that those primary color bars that used to show up on old analog televisions when the networks signed off for the night (and in the NBC peacock’s tail, too) are everywhere in the great hall, with the circular seating sections broken into pie-shaped color blocks – think red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple – making for a nice little homage to NBC, who also happens to broadcast the Emmy Awards show.

_M8Z8783 Cheryl Cecchetto Emmys Governors Ball
(Joe Scarnici)

Designed so that “it really feels like every table is important,” Cecchetto insists, there is still something of a pecking order, with top tables positioned at the front of the point in each color wheel, up close and personal to the circular central raised stage and dance floor.

But both Cecchetto and Patrick step away from the key job of seating all the stars and the network, cable and digital bigwigs; instead, that all happens behind closed doors.

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“That is in the hands of the Television Academy folks,” Patrick says with a relieved grin. “The academy makes all the seating decisions. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this stuff out.

One of the best things about this West Hall L.A. Convention Center is, that despite it’s being the size of a football field and a half, the good news is that because we do it in the round, there’s virtually not a bad table. The farthest corners in the back are closest to the chocolate dessert bars – and boy, are those popular!”

So popular, in fact, that we spotted people who had brought big Ziploc bags along to the Creative Arts Ball and were busily stuffing pounds of the Cellar Door Chocolates and other sweets piled high there into their personal to-go bags (there were plenty of smaller bags on hand, by the way).

The Creative Arts Ball was a dry-run duplicate of the Primetime Emmys Governors Ball in every way, from the Patina Group three-course meal (peach and Burrata salad, filet mignon and chocolate s’mores dessert) paired with Beaulieu Vineyards’ exemplary 2011 Georges de Latour Cabernet and their other fine wines, to the ever-evolving light and floorshow.

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“The laser show is changing every 30 seconds, which is really fun because it means we’re changing the decor every 30 seconds,” Cecchetto cheers.

“That was something we thought was very innovative and progressive and that’s what we want to be. The Television Academy is going through a facelift. They have new business cards, they have a new theater, they’ve got Maury McIntyre, the new president, and Heather Cochran, the new CFO. So it’s going through it and we need to stay with them. Television is changing. This is completely in line with the future.”

The color bars surrounding the entrance will be a popular photo spot. (Matt Sayles/Invision for Fiji Water/AP Images)
The color bars surrounding the entrance will be a popular photo spot. (Matt Sayles/Invision for Fiji Water/AP Images)

And while the whole “rainbow of colors” look is somewhat evocative of the gay rights movement sweeping across America, both Cecchetto and Patrick insist that the rainbow coalition has nothing to do with this year’s Governors Ball.

“I never used that as inspiration or thought it was connected because I have defined the color bars so distinctly,” Cecchetto asserts. “We weren’t looking at the colors for gay rights at all, because if I was going to do that, there would be a hell of a lot of other organizations that I’d have to align myself with. I won’t get really specific like that – but I will generalize, so the mind can go wherever it wants to go.”

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One place she won’t let anyone’s mind go is to getting through the doors even a minute early. Cecchetto maintains a strict policy of keeping the place tightly closed up until the very last moment of the actual awards show.

“We will not open the door until the drop of the show. I hold the door. We will be turning people away. If they’re early, we’ll say, ‘We’re so sorry.’ I would never think of starting our celebration before the show is over.”

Joe Scarnici’s original photography for TheWrap captured with a LYTRO ILLUM.