With most of Ugly Betty’s final episodes having finished shooting on Wednesday night, cast and crew came together on Thursday for a tearful, raucous wrap party. The evening began on a somewhat somber note: America Ferrera arrived at the venue, Room Service, with her boyfriend, and saying she needed a few moments to collect herself, shooed away cameras, and went immediately to a quiet corner. A bit later, castmates Mark Indelicato and Ana Ortiz, who seemed more cheerful, joined Ferrera at the rear banquettes, forming an impromptu VIP area — impromptu because this was a private party for cast, crew, and family only; there was no one to keep out.
At one point, they screened a reel of bad takes and bloopers from the four years of Ugly Betty, which included falls, fits of uncontrollable laughter, costume malfunctions, and our favorite, an F-bomb montage of just about everyone in the cast screwing up takes and then uttering expletives like, “Fuck! Fuck! Motherfucker! Cocksucker!” Betty Suarez cursing like a truck driver! This lightened the mood in the room, but just a little.
Indeed, when the Betty cast joined executive producer Silvio Horta on the stage, we could see the tears glittering in Ferrera’s eyes from across the room. Horta tried to quiet the crowd, and Ana Ortiz grabbed the mike and said, “Shut the fuck up!” The noise didn’t die down, and Horta joked, “I’m going to start one more time, and if you keep talking, you are fired.” He said that when he was offered the project five years ago, he didn’t want to do it. “The source material was a little cheesy. I had no idea how a show about an assistant working in the fashion business could turn into a long series,” he said, before telling the Ugly Betty story.
Some of the producers choked up while addressing the crowd, and Ana Ortiz and Eric Mabius embraced the tearful Ferrera, who finally took the microphone herself and made an emotional speech, thanking everyone involved with the show.
The promise of karaoke later in the evening felt a bit flat. But Mark Indelicato kicked things off, first saying, “I just wanted to say to all of the cast that growing up on a television set would probably be hard for a lot of kids. I think if I didn’t have the cast and crew that I had it would have been that easy. I just wanted to thank all of you guys for making this such an awesome experience, and probably one that I’ll never, ever forget.” Then, accompanied by a live band, he launched into an ear-splitting rendition of Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”
Neal Bledsoe, who plays hunky Tyler on the show took the stage next and belted out “Sweet Caroline.” Bledsoe told us that he and his equally tall, equally gorgeous girlfriend live in Brooklyn Heights, a block away from Eric Mabius. Well, they used to. “The movers came today. I’m out,” Mabius told us. “I’m staying at a hotel tonight.” He and his family are moving back to L.A.; their home in Malibu has been under construction since last summer while adding an addition.
And then, Michael Urie swept into the room, fresh from the evening’s performance in The Temperamentals, and he mugged and mingled and kissed and then joined Indelicato in singing “Summer Loving” from Grease. And suddenly, Ana Ortiz and America Ferrera jumped onstage and made it a foursome. And finally, America was smiling, trying to find the right lyrics on the page and singing off-key and laughing.
They finished the song to whistles and applause, and Ortiz said into the mike, “Who is going to follow that, bitches?” Then someone handed her a list, and she said, “Oh, we are,” and the four shuffled back to center stage. “I’m Rihanna,” Indelicato informed us. “And we’re the backup singers,” Ferrara added, and they launched into “Umbrella.”
After that, the party really took off — the D.J. turned it up, and everyone was dancing, no one harder than America Ferrera. She danced on a banquette, did the jitterbug to “In the Mood,” salsa-danced on the stage with crew members, and boogied on into the night. The usually reserved Eric Mabius, dressed in a distinguished gray suit, was even dancing, sandwiched between two guys on the dance floor. We even saw the security dudes dancing.
Pretty late we spotted Vanessa Williams watching Betty clips on a screen; she had slipped into the party unnoticed. Around midnight, she joined the gang on the dance floor, mingling more than dancing as “Single Ladies” blared.
While everyone said they’ll miss their characters, a few told us what they won’t miss. Ana Ortiz won’t miss Hilda’s clothes. “Oh God, the wardrobe. If I never see another leopard print it’ll be too soon.” Michael Urie, too, will be glad to leave Mark’s wardrobe behind. “I won’t miss the uncomfortable pants,” he said.
They all took a memento or two. “I took a little plaque that says ‘Wilhelmina Slater,’ an achievement award that was in my credenza,” Vanessa Williams told us. “And I took my crystal paperweight that’s been on my desk for four years.” Indelicato took a few items from the Suarez house, and Ortiz kept the neon “Hilda’s Beautilities Plus” sign from her boutique. And the art department made bobble-head dolls of each cast member — if you look closely, you might see them in the “tube” hallway at Mode magazine in the final episode.
But the sets won’t be available to the cast because for some reason, ABC is auctioning them off, producer Horta says. “Everyone wanted to keep them, everyone’s been on these sets for, like, a few years and wanted to be able to keep or buy or have a first chance to buy stuff off it, and ABC just said we’re just going to take it and we’re going to auction it,” he said with a shrug.
At around 1:30 a.m., the room began to empty and the Betty stars finally stopped dancing and said their tearful good-byes. And this reporter, who has never missed an episode of Ugly Betty, went outside into the night.