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No Recession at the HBO Party

With all that blood-red brocade, Hollywood’s must-attend bash felt like a party den for vampires.

It was the “No Recession Here” party at HBO after the Emmys, the pay network’s annual blow-out at the Pacific Design Center that puts every other Hollywood party to shame. One year it was giant buddhas. Another year it was cloisonee dragonflies everywhere .


This year designer Billy Butchkavitch (‘It’s Ukrainian’) was inspired by an early 20th century print by French designer Paul Poiret. It was like walking into Moulin Rouge: massive bouquets of blood-red roses matched the blood-red velvet chairs. (at left, Kathy Griffin and Jane Krakowski.)


Up on three cantelivered terraces were belly dancers, and women violin players in wigs teased high and bordello make-up. On the floor, circus performers pranced with ribbons, all on a backdrop of heavy black and taupe brocade fabrics.


Actually with all that heavy burgundy, it felt like a party den for vampires.

And recession? No thanks. There were magnums of Moet and Chandon – open – on most of the tables.


Bill Maher didn’t really look like he was having such a good time. He didn’t win an Emmy this year, and hasn’t won one yet. “Twenty-two times,” he said rather glumly. “I’ve been nominated 22 times.” Not that he’s counting. He lost to Jon Stewart this year.


Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes sat at a central table, deep in conversation with Garry Shandling, while HBO honchos Mike Lombardo and Richard Plepler rubbed elbows with their stars, current and former. (Laura Dern, in black lace; Anne Heche, at left. photo by James Tupper)


Everyone, everywhere at the party, talked about the changes at Disney, and the precipitous departure of studo chairman Dick Cook. Why? What does Bob Iger have in mind? And who will be Cook’s replacement? No answers, lots of questions.


Maher aside, other HBO shows were overlooked at the Emmys, including "Big Love," "Entourage" or "True Blood." One movie was showered with TV Academy love, “Grey Gardens,” which brought acting awards for Jessica Lange and Ken Howard. (Still, it’s hard to lose to PBS, which brought home the miniseries statue for ‘Little Dorrit.’)


Regardless, the Emmys have become HBO’s home week, the party has become where Hollywood gathers. And even this year, without the big guns, the network  took home more statues than anyone else, 21.