The Frill of It All

This time, Calista covered Up while the rest of Hollywood royalty sparkled—and surprised—at the Emmys


She’s got a flatter belly,” teased Access Hollywood cohost Nancy O’Dell, comparing her own deeply tanned torso (on view courtesy of her light gray two-piece Mark Zunino gown) with that of Halle Berry (whose Versace tank top and skirt revealed her crystal-decorated navel). “Yeah,” countered a wisecracking Berry, “but hers is darker.”

Welcome to the Emmys, where dressing (not to mention belly toning) is so competitive it could qualify as an Olympic sport. But to the dismay of viewers who revel in world-class tackiness, the biggest battle at this year’s ceremony, held on Sept. 12 at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium, was over who out-glammed whom. Big winners included Jodie Foster (in Giorgio Armani’s pale pink beaded gown with a fishtail train), Sarah Michelle Gellar (in a backless turquoise number by Vera Wang) and Helen Mirren (in a crystal-beaded cut velvet Badgley Mischka). Style watchers agreed: Emmy fashions were the most colorful and sophisticated in recent memory.

No surprise, given the lengths to which some stars went to look absolutely fabulous. “I didn’t want my gown to get wrinkled on my way here,” said Ally McBeal‘s Jane Krakowski of her strapless violet silk dress by Brazilian designer Fause Haten. “So I lay down on the floor of the limo for the entire ride.”

Others shaped up just by showing up. “You wanna feel the weight of it?” Sex and the City star and best comedy actress nominee Sarah Jessica Parker asked of her yellow jewel-encrusted Anna Molinari dress. “I’m getting a back and ab workout.” Not to mention the heavy lifting required of her right hand, which bore a $500,000 21-carat canary diamond ring on loan from Martin Katz. (“I couldn’t stomach paying for this,” Parker was quick to point out.) She wasn’t the only one burdened by bijoux. “My ears are hurting!” groaned Chanel-clad Sela Ward of her eight-carat briolette diamond earrings from Fred Leighton. Declared former Chicago Hope star Christine Lahti, who sported a chunky Martin Katz diamond necklace: “I’m getting whiplash from this thing.”

Still, for several of TV’s top-tier stars, the I evening’s most eye-catching accessory was a big-screen date. Jennifer Aniston had her steady, Brad Pitt, on her arm; producer-writer David E. Kelley—twice blessed, as winner for best drama series (The Practice) and best comedy series (Ally McBeal)—brought wife Michelle Pfeiffer; and former Law & Order star Benjamin Bratt escorted girlfriend Julia Roberts. The most buzzed-about couple, however, was The Practice‘s Lara Flynn Boyle and new beau Jack Nicholson, who held hands throughout the ceremony.

To the consternation of some female attendees, virtually none of the male guests seemed to sweat it sartorially. “It’s not fair,” Will & Grace star Debra Messing mock-pouted. “The boys just put on a fabulous suit and put stuff in their hair, and they’re ready in 10 minutes.” And except for cohost David Hyde Pierce, who sported a purple unitard for the opening interpretive dance number (“So glad I put on pants,” the Frasier star said later when accepting his best supporting comedy actor award), the men mostly played it safe with black tux after black tux. “It looks like a penguin party,” sighed nominee Wendie Malick of Just Shoot Me.

It was déjà vu at the podium, too, as Mad About You‘s Helen Hunt and NYPD Blue‘s Dennis Franz each won a fourth Emmy. Still, a few first-time winners brought some Benigni-like exuberance to the proceedings. Pointing to her silver Pamela Dennis gown and Fred Leighton jewels, The Sopranos‘ Edie Falco exhorted her family watching on Long Island to “see all this glittery stuff.” Clutching her best drama actress trophy, she said, “This is the most surreal experience I could ever even have imagined. I don’t even know where I am, and I haven’t eaten since 6 this morning.”

Luckily for Falco, the ceremony clocked in at just three hours. Many revelers then dispersed to the Governor’s Ball and to parties at chic L.A. eateries—the Sex and the City cast headed to Spago, Frasier‘s Kelsey Grammer and wife Camille to Cicada—to nosh, dish and toast the winners. Or not. “We’re just happy The Sopranos are going home on the red-eye,” joked The Practice‘s Camryn Manheim, whose series beat out the Mob-themed show as best drama, “because I think they packed pistols.”

Julie K.L Dam

Ken Baker, Lorenzo Benet, Steven Cojocaru, Julie Jordan, Monica Rizzo and Ulrica Wihlborg in Los Angeles

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