Here's what one writer was seeing from his vantage point inside and outside the Nokia Theatre at the Emmy Awards.
Heat is on
Outside the Nokia Theatre, the red carpet is sizzling with temperatures reaching 81 degrees — but it always feels a good 10 degrees hotter on the carpet. Stars stayed cool by drinking bottled water, being fanned by their publicists and stripping off their clothes. "Survivor" host Jeff Probst ditched his tie and Ricky Gervais proclaimed he'd rather be wearing a toga.
As the show is about to begin, celebrities and audience members have slowly begun to file inside. Most are mingling in the lobby while a few have entered the house to take their seats in front of the stage, which is bathed in gold light and has the control room tucked into one corner — like being able to look in on the kitchen at a restaurant. So far it's an "Office" party. Among the first to take their seats from the NBC comedy: Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith and Ed Helms.
Scolding the kids
Minutes before the ceremony, Emmy executive producer Don Mischer comes out to play school principal, sternly instructing winners to keep their acceptance speeches brief and the audience to stay out of the aisle so people can get to their seats. "Guys, we need this aisle to settle here," Mischer urges. After he's finished, the band tries to get the crowd pumped up by playing the Cheryl Lynn disco song "Got to Be Real."
Host Neil Patrick Harris slays the crowd with his opening musical number, written specifically for him by Broadway composers Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman of "Hairspray" fame. Biggest laugh goes to a joke about the empty seat for Paula Abdul. His rapid-fire recital of network names also tickles the crowd. About 40 attendees had to watch from the sidelines, though — they were late.
Oh say, can you see?
Because the large monitors hanging over the stage aren't broadcasting the nominees for supporting actress in a comedy series, some audience members are squinting, trying to watch the flat-screen panels inside the control room on the stage to see the nominees' reactions. The nominees for supporting actor in a comedy series are later blown up on the big screens for all to watch.
Harris hangs out
Harris wasn't kidding at the beginning of the show when he said he'd be hanging out at that podium on stage for most of the night. He's barely left his post. At one point during a commercial break, he leaned into the control room, but then went right back to the podium to watch the performance from Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy of "Dancing With the Stars."
Stopping the Chase
Celebs who aren't in their seats when the show comes back from a commercial have to wait to get back inside, as Chevy Chase, toting two bottles of water, learned the hard way. He couldn't return to his seat until after the supporting-acting winners in a miniseries or TV movie were announced.
Best seat in the house
Don't let Harris' running gag fool you. A contest winner named Barbie really does have a seat at the Emmys, and it's a good one. After she was shown stuck behind a pair of Harlem Globetrotters and the show's TelePrompTer, she was escorted to an orchestra pit seat about 20 rows back with no obstructions.