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The Emmy Parties: Vulture’s Epic and Juicy Backstage Timeline

Every year, the biggest names in television party down in preparation for, or recovery from, what's typically a dull ceremony. This weekend, the Emmys surprised everyone by actually being pretty fun to watch — but, as usual, it was still way more exciting backstage. A team of Vulture reporters was dispatched to Los Angeles to chronicle the loose talk and boozy mayhem.

Friday 8/27: Entertainment Weekly and Women in Film Party, and Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) Performer’s Reception

8:15 p.m. At ATAS, we spy Eric Stonestreet (Cam on Modern Family) getting a couple of drinks at this low-key, TV Academy–sponsored pre-Emmys event. "Can you make sure that one is on the rocks?" he tells the bartender, then tells us that he and onscreen partner Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) have finally locked lips.

9 p.m. Cobie Smulders (Robin from How I Met Your Mother), walks into EW with her cute boyfriend, new SNL cast member Taran Killam. “I met his mother at his father’s play,” she says. “His dad is an actor. I think I nailed it.”

9:10 p.m. Every female reporter, publicist, and actress at EW freezes. Mark-Paul Gosselaar is walking the carpet. He says the only people who scream, “Zack Morris!” to him anymore are “drunk college girls.” He disappoints us by shooting down our idea for a grown-up version of Saved by the Bell."I’d probably never do it,” he says. “One of the things that made that show so successful was that it never took itself too seriously. The campiness of it all would be lost now that we’re old and evolved.”

9:15 p.m. Newlyweds Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer enter the party with huge grins, hand-in-hand. No press. They literally do not stop holding hands all night long. She’s wearing a red dress and says to a random female guest upon entering the party, “I’m SO happy someone else is wearing bright-red. Don’t you feel so hot?!!”

9:30 p.m. Elisabeth Moss keeps telling reporters that she’s wearing “Herv Leggers.” No one is correcting her. Finally, we ask, “Do you mean Hervé Léger?” She laughs at herself and says, “Oh my God, have I been mispronouncing it? Is that how you say it?”

9:32 p.m. Moss talks chirpily about everything but the dissolution of her marriage with Fred Armisen, which is, of course, what every reporter wants to know about. She admits that even though she lived in New York for ten years, she doesn’t mind L.A., having been born and raised there. “On bad days, I’ll just watch TV all day: Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, Nurse Jackie, Glee … I even watch Mad Men sometimes. It’s odd, but I get through it,” she says. She also has an excuse for looking so incredibly thin. “I’ve been working a lot this summer. I don’t have time to go to the gym,” she says. “I actually don’t really have time to eat. So apparently, that’s working for me.”

10 p.m. Future Emmy winner Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad sneaks past the carpet. At the Nominees Dinner just before the EW party, Bryan Cranston told the crowd to sing "Happy Birthday" to him. When we wish Paul a happy birthday, he slurs, “Yep, it’s my birthday! 31. Ughhh. I thought turning 30 was hard, but 31 is just as rough. My friend here is 33, which somehow sounds better than 31 … oh well, I’m still celebrating!”

10:04 p.m. James Remar (Harry on Dexter) asks us to please tell Showtime to put him in more episodes. He’s dead serious. He says Michael C. Hall is “tan and his arms are all muscles. You’d never believe he so much as had a cold.” He won’t tell us whether Julia Stiles is playing a killer on the new season, but confirms, “She’s not playing some little daisy or wallflower. She’s a badass.”

10:05 p.m. Kate Walsh walks in wearing a red Valentino skirt and high Louboutins. She says it’s nice to go to the Emmys and not officially have to work. “Our show isn’t up for any awards, so this is pretty much just fun for me,” she says. “ But when you get into a tight skirt, it’s always work, you know? And these shoes are pretty, but they’re mean. First thing when I get home, I’m taking a bath.”

10:15 p.m. For some reason, Jayma Mays of Glee and her unknown actor husband like to sing "I Believe I Can Fly” and songs from Les Mis to each other, not really as a joke.

10:30 p.m. Katrina Bowden says the gang from 30 Rock spends a lot of time drinking at Long Island City cocktails lounge Dutch Kills near their studio, but that unlike her character, the guys on the show never hit on her. “They look at me like a kid sister. Alec [Baldwin] is the most appropriate of them all. He never, ever crosses the line. Tracy [Morgan] will tell my dates to ‘Take. Care. Of. Her. Or. Else.’ Guys find that a little scary.”

10:28 p.m. Kate Walsh looks bored to death and says she’s leaving for another party. She won’t tell us which one.

10:30 p.m. Inside the party, Bryan Batt from Mad Men is telling actor friends not to worry: “Don’t worry! I’m not dead! I’m not dead!” One of the Mad Men producers scowls, “He really shouldn’t be saying so much.”

10:35 p.m. As fans scream his name, Jesse Tyler Ferguson of Modern Family marvels at his sudden fame. “I don’t feel that way! People are screaming my name and I’m assuming it’s because I have toilet paper on the back of my shoe.”

10:40 p.m. Connie Britton of Friday Night Lights destroys all illusions of Kyle Chandler’s mythic sexiness. “Kyle is the biggest dork on the planet and you can quote me on that. He wishes we all wanted him.”

11 p.m. EW editor-in-chief Jess Cagle personally escorts Sharon Stone out, notifying security that “Sharon is leaving the party.” They walk out like best friends. She’s wearing black leather pants and seems shockingly non-crazy.

11:30 p.m. Anna Paquin won’t let go of Stephen Moyer's hand as they prepare to leave the building. She calls over a security guy, “Your name is Jon, right? Well, Jon, we want to go home and we want to go home now. Thanks.” She’s a feisty little thing. Moyer doesn’t say a peep as she leads the way.

11:40 p.m. Like a true D-lister, rather than mingling outside with the actors, Kathy Griffin is sitting indoors, at a booth closest to the L'Oréal swag table, with Craig Robinson from The Office and her assistant Jessica. She’s howling in laughter as Robinson pretends to punch his friend out in slow motion.

Midnight: Only stragglers remain: Kate Flannery (Meredith from The Office), Anne Heche having a quiet conversation with her husband, and Aaron Paul, chain-smoking.


Saturday 8/28: BAFTA-L.A. Tea Party and Art of Elysium Benefit

2:45 p.m. Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan is an early arrival at BAFTA-L.A.’s Tea Party, an outdoor, very casual pre-Emmy tradition at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. No "it's an honor to be nominated" b.s. from Levitan; he would like to win, and is noticeably nervous about tomorrow's ceremony. So nervous, in fact, that he spills some iced tea on his white cotton shirt and rushes to the bar to get some seltzer. Levitan has been omnipresent in the buildup to the Emmys, giving dozens of interviews and sounding off in industry publications about the need to reconsider the unrestricted free streaming of TV shows on Hulu. "It might be time to go underground for a while after this is all over," he says.

3:15 p.m. American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, being grilled by one of Nikki Finke’s correspondents, repeats his previous position that Ellen DeGeneres was overwhelmed by Simon Cowell on Idol, and talks again about how great Elton John is. When the Deadline reporter leaves, we ask Lythgoe if he thinks he made any news. He laughs and says, "I don't think so, because we're still not talking about negotiations!" We ask if there'll be an announcement right after Labor Day, as has been reported. He says it's unlikely, and hints it could be a few more weeks into September until deals are announced. Later, after considering an array of items on display for the event's silent auction, he makes a bid on a guitar signed by members of the Yardbirds.

3:28 p.m. BAFTA board member Pam Wilson urges us to avoid the scones. "They're really not up to standards," the Brit-born publicist says.

3:32 p.m. Jesse Tyler Ferguson shows up. His jacket is pretty retro and very awesome. "It's a real Beatles jacket," he tells us.

5:10 p.m. We don't know if Lythgoe got his guitar, but as the party winds down, he's huddled deep in conversation with Damages star Glenn Close. Patty Hewes would make an excellent Simon Cowell replacement.

9:10 p.m. First guest Raven Simone arrives at the Art of Elysium’s pre-Emmys benefit at Milk Studio. It’s a vast, raw space with several bars, a performance stage, an art installation, a Paige Denim section (free jeans for all guests!), and a Coffee Bean station. Simone smiles at everyone, but as she stares at the massive video-art installation by Davida Nemeroff, she looks totally confused. The installation is a massive movie screen with black-and-white waves. If you looked at it long enough, you almost felt like you were surfing.

9:20 p.m. Oliver Hudson, a.k.a brother of Kate and star of Rules of Engagement, is with a few male friends. He says that at age 23, Emmys weekend had a whole different meaning than it does now that he has two kids. “My 3-year-old loves SpongeBob … so that’s what TV means to us,” he says. “We’re not big on the Emmys, even though I’m on a TV show. My wife will watch for the girl stuff — the dresses, who looks good, you know. And I like to see the comedians do their bit. But that’s the extent of my interest. I don’t care who wins or loses.” He also says he doesn’t watch all of his sister's movies. “Honestly,” he says. “I haven’t seen a couple of them. I never fully saw Raising Helen. I’ve seen most of Bride Wars, but not the whole thing. I NEVER saw Fool's Gold. She doesn’t care, she doesn’t even ask.“

9:30 p.m. Pink and Cary Hart enter and go straight to the bar. They order glasses of wine, and then they start rocking out to the music, with Pink doing most of the rocking out by herself.

9:40 p.m. Bryan Greenberg goes to the Paige station to get some swag jeans with his “boys.”

10 p.m. Brad Goreski, the cute crybaby stylist on The Rachel Zoe Project, enters without his signature bow tie. He says not to fret, the bow ties are just taking the night off: "I love them so much ... I like them big — and I like them puffy." When asked if there's anyone in Hollywood who does NOT need his fashion advice, he proffers that Ryan Gosling, Emma Watson, and Carey Mulligan are the only stars in town with real, inherent style.

10:45 p.m. Padma Lakshmi walks in with an unidentified date, and she clearly doesn’t want to be bothered. As for Emmys prep, she says, “I don’t do anything. I believe in a lot of sleep, and besides that, I just want to play with my daughter. She’s the best beauty elixir. She makes events like this all the better, because I don’t give a shit anymore. I don’t worry about anything superficial. I don’t care if my hair is done. I’d rather play with her than worry about my looks.”

11:15 p.m. David Arquette grabs a FatBurger from a server, realizes it’s a veggie burger, and puts it right back. He asks them to please send some “meat patties” over. We ask if anyone eats dessert at his famous Sunday-night dinners in Malibu (Jen Aniston is there every weekend). “No, hell no, no way,” he says. “We’re actors. Our job is to NOT eat dessert.”

Midnight: Nicky Hilton and David Katzenberg exit the building and paparazzi go insane. Everyone is screaming things about Paris's cocaine arrest, and Nicky remains unflappable and silent. The paparazzi shift to Jessica Lowndes from 90210, who looks genuinely pissed off that they're chasing her and her friends across the street.

Sunday 8/29: Emmy Night, featuring five after-parties: The Governors Ball, Entertainment Tonight, HBO, FOX, and Comedy Central

3:40 p.m. The Office star Craig Robinson is waiting in the Nokia lobby well before the start of the show, talking with friends near the snack bar's ketchup and mustard dispensers. We ask his thoughts about the idea that his newly promoted Darryl might end up replacing Steve Carell. "That's never going to happen!" he laughs.

6:30 p.m. It's becoming clear Lost is not going to get any final-season love from the TV Academy. Producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof commiserate in the lobby (sadly, the bars closed before the show even began — the Emmys are no Golden Globes). They don't admit it, but the disappointment can be seen in their faces. Lindelof puts the best spin on the situation: "It is what it is," he says.

8:04 p.m. We catch up with J.J. Abrams as he and the Lost crew head into the Governors Ball. We tell him how much we loved the Super 8 trailer, as well as the idea for the movie. "Now I just have to make it," he says. "We start shooting in a month."

8:07 p.m. Inside the Governors Ball, a portion of the Los Angeles Convention Center has been transformed into a galaxy of blue and gold, fitting with the "Starry Starry Night" theme. A big-band orchestra plays on a revolving stage at the center of the room.

8:17 p.m. Meanwhile Dylan Baker, an Emmy nominee for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his work on The Good Wife, shows up at HBO’s post-Emmys party at the Pacific Design Center looking like he just came from running errands, casually dressed in jeans and a tucked-in flannel shirt.

8:20 p.m. At HBO, Kathy Griffin is one of the first celebrities to arrive on the carpet. She looks at reporters' outlet name cards before deciding whether or not to grant them an interview, but ultimately stops for everyone. “I've starved myself really to the point of death to fit into this dress,” she says of her Oscar de la Renta gown. Inside the party, she says she plans to find “the table of judgment,” which is “either near the bathroom or the entrance.” And while everyone else seems to be judging January Jones's choice of dress, Griffin comes to her defense. “I loved what January Jones was wearing,” she tells reporters. “She is a beautiful, young blonde starlet. That's the time when you wear a really pushing-the-envelope outfit like that.”

8:23 p.m. Griffin moves on to “her people” — US Weekly. “First of all, I am on the red carpet. I'm thinking Tom Hanks is over there and Al Pacino and George Clooney,” she tells the reporter. “All the carpet is about is Paris Hilton's cocaine bust and that I was seen and photographed with Vienna.”

8:40 p.m. At Entertainment Tonight’s party at Vibian, folks are gathering near the stage for when Cyndi Lauper will perform later that night. Border Grill stations serve up street tacos, as does star chef Susan Feniger. New York’s Magnolia Bakery, recently arrived in L.A., offers an assortment of treats, from banana pudding to cupcakes. (“It’s the Carrie cupcake,” a helpful staffer tells a clueless Angeleno.) Dr. Scholl’s is offering up various high-heel accessories. As usual, an early line forms for the fabled gift bag. (Bounty this year ranges from something called Hippy Chips to a two-day stay at a California oceanfront resort.)

8:42 p.m. At ET, Castle’s Nathan Fillion says that he forgot underwear when he was getting ready to go out tonight. “I’m just kidding,” he says. “I didn’t forget. I just didn’t.” He says the best part of filming the new season was working with guest star Jason Beghe. “Jason was in this movie from a long time ago, Monkey Shines,” Fillion says. “I’ll never forget it. I was dying to ask him about monkey stories. And he’s probably not too happy about this but he told me once a monkey threw a piece of poop directly into his mouth. It was meant to be a grape but it was a piece of poop at the last minute. They always say never work with kids or pets, so now I know never to work with monkeys.”

8:45 p.m. Maksim Chmerkovskiy of Dancing With the Stars says that after his great run with Erin Andrews, he wants another partner “who really wants to do it. Not just to promote something for a couple of weeks and then drop out. Someone who approaches it like an athlete.” Speaking of DWTS, Kate Gosselin was the first to arrive on the carpet for ET, with bodyguard. She took no questions and basically spent the entire night alone. She never talked to anyone and seemed to stay for the entire night.

8:50 p.m. Louise Roe, host of the CW's makeover show Plain Jane, gives us some tips for staying glam and comfortable at HBO’s party: “Don't wear a dress too tight because you won't breathe and you should be allowed to eat. Do eat. Make sure those shoes are comfy. Don't wear a lip gloss; it's too sticky.” Roe also hints that she may not be done with MTV's The City. “I'm going out for Fashion Week, so we'll see,” she says.

8:51 p.m. Emmy winner Aaron Paul is doing a walk around the Governors Ball with his new statuette. A past winner (a music supervisor from Lost, Paul tells us later) passes by and has some advice for Paul. "Be careful the first night you take it to bed," he says. "The pointy things can really hurt." We ask Paul what the first word that came to his mind was when he heard his name. “One word? ‘No way,’” he says. “But that's two. Okay, how about: ‘Yes’ with a lot of exclamation points?”

8:58 p.m. It wouldn't be a TV party without Ben Silverman, and the Vulture hero doesn't disappoint. The tux-and-sneaker-clad former NBC boss is exec producer of The Office, so he wasn't totally crashing the Governors Ball. He says he’s not planning on replacing Steve Carell with Ben Silverman. “That would be killer, but no.” Then he gives us another great Ben Silverman fun fact as fiancée Jen Cuoco comes over and gives him a big squeeze. It turns out that Ben Silverman likes to have his toenails painted. “Usually blue or black,” he says. “Only the big toes.”

8:59 p.m. The HBO party is heating up as Susan Sarandon and her daughter Eva Amurri (Californication) arrive. Kate Walsh (Private Practice), looking beautiful in a body-hugging brown mini, tries to rush down the red carpet, but her high heels seem to be preventing her from going as fast as she'd like. Still, she skips the press line.

9 p.m. The Fox after-party is at Cicada, an old-school Hollywood glam restaurant in downtown L.A., and is filled with decadent food like cheese, chocolate, wine, tuna tartare, and figs with goat cheese. There are Emmy awards everywhere. The mixologists are wearing top hats. Jason Weiner, producer of Modern Family, is the first to walk in holding an Emmy. Everyone around the entrance screams and claps. He says there are no bad feelings with Eric Stonestreet beating his onscreen husband, Jesse Tyler Ferguson. “It was only pure joy that he won. There was not a hint of jealousy between cast members. It was a moment of absolute pure joy.”

9:03 p.m. True Blood's hunky werewolf Joe Manganiello, who has arrived with a hunky blonde, kindly stops for every reporter. “I'm hoping Tom Hanks is here. I'd love to meet him,” he says of his first HBO Emmy party. As for his co-stars’ very naked and gory Rolling Stone cover, “It's just a typical day at the office for us,” he says. “Naked and covered in blood — it's what we do for a living.” It sounds like there'll be plenty more of that as True Blood wraps up its season. “There's a lot of blood. A lot of people die. And there's a lot of sex,” he teases.

9:10 p.m. Kevin McHale (Artie on Glee) makes a grand entrance at the Fox party with a few friends and says immediately, “Oh my God, where is the food? I was literally sitting at the Emmys with all the cast members and we had just won all these things and I turn around to everyone and say, ‘I just want a big, fat, greasy burger with avocado and crispy bacon.’ That’s all I cared about!”

9:12 p.m. Jane Lynch is standing near the Glee table, making phone calls to well-wishers on a BlackBerry. We ask her what was the first thing that came to mind when her name was called. “Jane Lynch — that's my name, right?”

9:13 p.m. True Blood's Rutina Wesley suddenly leaves the carpet, but reassures reporters, “I'll be back.” She's got an emergency — an eyelash in her eye.

9:15 p.m. Sofia Vergara enters the building at Fox with about seven people (biggest entourage of the night). She, too, is starving. She says she chose to wear a Carolina Herrera dress because the designer is Latin, “So she's just perfect for me. I tried it on, zipped it up, pulled them out,” she says, motioning to her breasts, “and go to the party.”

9:17 p.m. Chloë Sevigny shoots down our question at HBO’s party about all the drama surrounding her comments on the quality of Big Love's last season. “I already commented on that,” she says simply, but does open up about what life will be like for her character Nicki now that she's living in the public eye. “She's finding her way. I think she's going to become more of an activist. I think she's going to revel in that spotlight as a reformer,” Sevigny says.

9:20 p.m. Jessalyn Gilsig (Terri Schuester on Glee) walks into Fox alone almost unnoticed. “I usually watch the Emmys in my pajamas at home. I kept pinching myself because there I was sitting in the second row. It was surreal,“ she says. She also shoots down rumors of romance all over the Glee set. “People are living in a fantasy. None of it is true! We aren’t all sleeping together. These days if anyone so much as walks in my dressing room, you’ll read that I’m doing him. So let me just set the record straight: I’ve had ‘em all. Even Jane [Lynch].”

9:21 p.m. Cyndi Lauper arrives at the ET party, where she will later perform. We mention that “Time after Time” is one of the most popular karaoke songs ever. “When I went, I used to like to sing 'Green Green Grass of Home' by Tom Jones, and I used to sing it just a little little little bit off-key just to be annoying,” she says. “ I don’t know. I think it’s funny, but maybe it’s just me.”

9:23 p.m. Nelsan Ellis and Jim Parrack, Lafayette and Hoyt on True Blood, hit the HBO carpet together, doing their interviews jointly. Ellis is a fan of Hoyt and Jessica. “You're like the Romeo and Juliet of True Blood,” he tells Parrack. “The story with my mom is like Tom and Amanda Wingfield from Glass Menagerie,” Parrack adds.

9:25 p.m. It seems Ellis's father is not a fan of Lafayette. “Oh, no comment,” Ellis says when we ask what his religious father thinks of his flamboyant character.

9:30 p.m. Sofia Vergara has had some real food and is now attacking the dessert station. She takes a bowl of crème brûlée and spoon-feeds a few bites into her girlfriend’s mouth, then she proceeds to finish every last bite, practically licking the plate. She goes back for another one.

9:35 p.m. Rita Wilson can be heard coming down the HBO red carpet before she's seen thanks to her Prada shoes, which have dangling jewels on them that match the metal armorlike bejeweled sheath over her white dress. “Oh my God, I love these shoes. They're like my own percussion instrument,” she says.

9:36 p.m. He's a big star, but Tom Hanks still stops to do a group interview at HBO with the lowly print reporters at the end of the press line. “You guys should be at the beginning of the line! Remember print media?” he greets us. Although he's been at this a long time, Hanks insists that he and Wilson still get excited at award shows. “We sit there like goofy fans,” he says. Wilson adds that their good friend Bryan Cranston winning for the third time was “one of our most giddy moments.” Hanks comments on the Emmy guest list: “Holland Taylor, an old friend. And hey, Jack Kevorkian! New friend! You get to see everybody at the Emmys!”

9:39 p.m. “Man, oh man. Let me get in,” Hanks says when we tell him there's a handsome werewolf inside the party who wants to meet him (see Joe Manganiello above). Hanks confesses his love for another Emmy favorite, Mad Men. “The world is at peace because Mad Men is on the air right now,” he says. When the idea of a guest spot is brought up, Hank replies, “Wouldn't that be fun? I do love that era.” He gives Judd Apatow a hug and chats with him briefly before heading inside the party.

9:40 p.m. Chris Colfer of Glee comes in with two older women (mom and manager?), and they refuse to let him do press. He’s trying to stop, but they’re yanking him away. We quickly ask who had more rhythm in the opening Glee number, Don Draper or Tina Fey? Says Colfer: “Who is Don Draper?!”

9:45 p.m. Matthew Morrison walks in the room with a George Clooney–like magnetism. He’s brought his high-school mentor, a man, as his date. Why not bring a hot date, being a heterosexual working on a TV show about a glee club and all? “My publicist wouldn’t let me!” he says. “She said you can only bring a woman to these things if you’re married or engaged, otherwise there’s too much talk. I don’t really care, as long as they think I’m straight, which I think is what they’re saying this week.” He adds, “Okay, I am in love with Sofia Vergara. She said she would run naked down Sunset Boulevard if Modern Family won, and I want front-row tickets. Is she in there?”

9:47 p.m. “We did them all in one day!” Community's Alison Brie says at HBO’s party of the cast's Emmys-themed Infiniti car commercials. “It was a very long day in a very tightly packed car, although the Infiniti is a great car. But when you're packing like seven or eight people on each other's laps and a green screen wrapped around us, it was about 100 degrees in the car with these bright lights. It was like being on a road trip with your friends. We all got a little zany by the end of it.”

9:49 p.m. Brie adds that she “loved, loved, loved” Joel McHale's performance during the opening musical number at the Emmys. “Joel just continues to wow me with what he's capable of. I love watching him dance. I can't wait to give him a hard time about it at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow,” she says with a laugh. “This is a secret talent that we've never known about. I'm like, 'We have to incorporate this into some Community episodes now.' I've been pushing for a musical episode for a year!”

9:55 p.m. A highlight of the evening for True Blood's Marshall Allman: “Aaron Paul winning. We were very excited for him. He's a friend of ours.” Allman explains to us that he worked with Paul on the TV show Threat Matrix, where he also met his wife, Jamie Anne Allman. Paul played her boyfriend on the show, but it all worked out because she's now his wife and Allman, who hardly looks old enough to be married, can take her to a swanky HBO Emmy party where “my wife gets to look frickin' hot.” “With palm trees,” Mrs. Allman adds. “Totally. This is like super California,” Mr. Allman responds. He also warns us that this season of True Blood ends with “a little bit of a cliffhanger” for his character. “Tommy definitely gives Sam a run for his money,” he adds.

9:58 p.m. “I'm one of those fortunate guys who gets to go back and forth. So far, it hasn't killed me yet,” Kevin Alejandro says of playing double duty on True Blood and Southland, not to mention an upcoming guest stint on Parenthood.

10 p.m. The general vibe of the ET party is, as one of the organizers explains, “the second-best party in town for people who can’t get into the HBO party.” It’s slightly lame until the NBC crew flocks in with a few Mad Men stragglers, at which point it becomes an intimate celebration of friends. Rick Sommer (Harry Crane of Mad Men) brings his mom and explains that he worked six hours on Monday and his baby was due on Tuesday.

10:01 p.m. Jane Lynch finally arrives at the Fox party with her wife, arms around each other. She says the first person she called after her win was her mom. “She was thrilled. She wasn’t, like, bawling. She’s a Swede. They don’t bawl.” How did she feel about her speech? “I don’t remember any of it. I hear I said something about Buddhism, which is so weird and random, but I have no recollection. I know I forgot to thank Fox, though, so I have to find the right people inside and make amends.”

10:10 p.m. Ryan Murphy comes into the Fox party with a handsome male friend, and his Emmy. He comes right over to Vulture and says: “Someone in your magazine says I need to shut the fuck up! That wasn’t nice!” (That might have been Murphy himself.) We continue to make small talk. He says Tom Ford, whom he thanked in his speech, “texted me and said, ‘Thanks for the shout-out.’” He’s gotten so many text messages, he says, “my phone kind of imploded. It literally shut off. I don’t care. I just want to get inside and have a drink with Jane Lynch.”

10:15 p.m. Ryan Eggold, who plays the teacher on 90210, complains that he has all this stuff stuck in his teeth and he wishes he could brush them. Vulture offers him floss and he proceeds to openly floss in the middle of the party. His publicist suggests sending out items about him “flossing” in public and making people wonder what it means and how scandalous it was. He is all for it.

10:15 p.m. Emily Deschanel comes into the Fox party with her mom. She breaks the news that Zooey is no longer a vegan; that she’s fallen off the vegan wagon. Emily, a vegan for seventeen years, assures us she is still the real deal.

10:18 p.m. Nigel Lythgoe comes in with his wife to the Fox party. We suggest that after tonight, he might consider hiring Jane Lynch as a new Idol judge. “No, after tonight’s show, I think we need to hire a chef as the new Idol judge,” he says. “I can’t believe Top Chef beat us. I cringed a bit over that.”

10:20 p.m. Modern Family’s Ty Burrell walks into the Fox party with his wife on his arm. He says that they have a 7-month-old, so this is the first night out they’ve had in a year. Then he makes fun of his gray suit. (“I can’t believe I get to wear these gorgeous things, I’m such a ‘fop.’ I can’t believe I didn’t turn out gay”) and his lack of female admirers despite the show’s popularity. “I’m basically like a weird, eccentric country gentleman. There’s nothing sexy about a man who wears cashmere and loves it.”

10:24 p.m. Inside the HBO party, we sit down next to Melora Walters, who plays the unpredictable Wanda on Big Love. “I'm lost,” she says, looking nearly unrecognizable without her compound clothes. She can't find the table for Big Love in the extremely packed party. We point out someone who looks like an employ, who offers a little guidance. “I'm trying to work up the courage to go,” she says. Wading through the swarm of people is indeed daunting.

10:26 p.m. Even those who have managed to get inside the HBO party are still starstruck. A group of partygoers, photo cameras at the ready, has staked out a prime spot next to the fire pit overlooking the red-carpet arrivals.

10:30 p.m. Neil Patrick Harris and his boyfriend have sneaked in and are about to sneak out of the Fox party. Almost every single person there wants to stop him for a picture, including writers and producers for Modern Family. He is gracious but obviously annoyed. He keeps telling people they have somewhere else to be.

10:45 p.m. Jane Lynch and Ryan Murphy are sitting at a booth together at the Fox party with a few other friends. Their Emmys are side-by-side. Murphy is devouring ravioli. Jane is drinking sparkling water with lime and starting to pick at desserts. Her wife is next to her and they have their arms around each other.

10:50 p.m. Eric Stonestreet comes in with his mom and a smoking-hot female date. He says he’s not worried about women thinking he’s actually gay. “Oh, don’t worry. I make it pretty clear. They know within a second what I’m interested in,” he says. His mom is telling people that he’s not really giving her the Emmy, but if he does, she’ll put it on the mantle.

10:51 p.m. Parks and Recreation co-stars Rashida Jones and Aubrey Plaza, who've stuck close to each other for the night, are standing near the Temple Grandin table at HBO. Jones bends down to chat with Emmy winner Claire Danes. Nearby, the real Temple Grandin is a star, taking photos with fans.

10:55 p.m. Cyndi Lauper, who started out the evening a blonde and is now a redhead, is singing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” at the ET party. Christine Baranski and Alan Cumming push their way to the front row. Melora Hardin is dancing and lip-synching and does a loud whistle of appreciation at the end — sans fingers in mouth. Jane Krakowski and fiancé affectionately sway to the music. They’re all in a good mood, but no sign of Baldwin or Fey.

10:55 p.m. At the HBO party, we ask Bill Maher what's good at the buffet table. “Not this,” he says, holding up his half-eaten soft-shell crab po' boy. Maher didn't watch the telecast and, thus, doesn't have a review of Jimmy Fallon's performance.

11:05 p.m. Lauper gives a shout-out to Steve Carell, who apparently is somewhere in the crowd. She sings “Time After Time.” Neil Patrick Harris and partner David move up to the front, where David stands behind NPH nuzzling his shoulder.

11:07 p.m. Jim Parsons enters the HBO party and is immediately mobbed by people wanting to congratulate him. Bill Maher comes over to introduce himself as a fan of the show. Parsons is an equally big fan, declaring, “I love your show!” Before long, there's talk of arranging a Big Bang Theory set visit for Maher. As for the surprise Emmy award, which seems to weigh more than Parsons, “It's too happy to be uncomfortable,” he tells us. “It's pointy and heavy, but it's great.” There's a place for it on a bookcase or a piano, Parsons says, but he won't be bringing it to set “because I'm afraid it'll get stolen.”

11:10 p.m. Anna Paquin, who's changed into a black minidress, gets a smoke from a friend as she chats with Malin Akerman at the HBO party. Five minutes later, she puts it out and says, “I only smoke half a cigarette every once in a while, thanks.” Paquin then introduces her True Blood co-star Todd Lowe to Akerman before describing her wedding. Her mother did the father-of-the-bride speech, while her brother walked her down the aisle.

11:20 p.m. At Fox, Ty Burrel’s mom is fixing his bow tie in a dark corner.

11:20 p.m. A Diana Ross look-alike performer, singing classics like “Young Hearts Run Free,” “Don't Leave Me This Way,” and “Last Dance,” finally gets some of the partygoers at HBO dancing. Big Love's Doug Smith hits the dance floor with his date, showing off some charmingly awkward moves.

11:30 p.m. John Benjamin Hickey (the dirty brother on The C Word) is there at Fox with his partner, a writer on Modern Family. They are talking about buying another country house in Connecticut.

11:37 p.m. Bryan Cranston calls his win “sweet and surprising” and has high praise for host Jimmy Fallon. “I thought he was great,” he tells us while chowing down on some food. “He really kept the show moving. When I came in, they said your category is at 6:15. I said, 'That can't be right.'”

11:45 p.m. Jonathan Keltz, who plays Ari's assistant on Entourage, informs us that the amazing Diana Ross look-alike singer is actually a receptionist at HBO, who moonlights as a singer at night.

11:45 p.m. The younger Gleeks are all sitting together and dancing in their seats to music at Fox. It’s like they’re all restraining themselves from busting out into full dance mode. Kevin McHale and Chris Colfer are eating chocolate and moving to the beat.

Midnight: Vulture reluctantly leaves the Fox party to head over to Comedy Central’s bash at the Colony, a trendy nightclub in Hollywood. But all the joyous Daily Show winners except for Olivia Munn (who wasn’t on the show last year and therefore isn’t technically a winner) seem to have left by the time we get there. Stephen Colbert is surrounded by writers clutching their Emmys. He tries leaving the party with his wife several times, and keeps getting pulled aside by staffers. Someone is trying to convince him to promote someone else. The party smells of sushi and pot, the former of which was being served, the latter of which was offered to Vulture by three different people.

12:09 a.m. Was Matt Czuchry surprised that his Good Wife co-star Julianna Margulies, who was considered a lock by many, didn't win? “You never go into these things assuming anything,” he says. In a bit of perfect timing, his phone rings. It's Archie Panjabi, his other Emmy-winning co-star.

12:15 a.m. Within a mob of gawking admirers, we spot True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård, who's a good foot or two taller than everyone around him. He's being bombarded from all sides for photo requests and never turns down one. He tells us that he and his co-stars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer really were naked for their Rolling Stone cover. “It would have been even more awkward if we had little bags."

12:05 a.m. In a borderline Dorian Grey/Narcissus moment at the ET party, Christopher Meloni of Law & Order: SVU stares at one of two outdoor flat-screen TVs and watches himself present Emmys with Mariska Hargitay. One onlooker comes up and gives him a fist bump, yelling, “You killed it, man! You killed it!” Another person comes up and says, “That’s you, right?” To which Meloni responds, “That’s someone else.”

12:20 a.m. Nathan Fillion walks by the buffet table at HBO, gives it a once-over, and then keeps on walking. Guess Bill Maher was right.

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images