Forget the quiet tributes and subtle protests. Stepping onstage at L.A.'s Shubert Theatre on Nov. 4, Celine-garbed host Ellen DeGeneres set the forthright tone: "What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?" And with that the 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were finally off and running—but with a difference. The twice-postponed ceremony featured ultratight security with limo searches. Walking the red carpet sans screaming fans "was strangely quiet," noted The West Wing's Allison Janney, who picked up her second statuette for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series. One security officer, said Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz, "was like, 'I want your autograph! But wait—I have to frisk you first!' " The fashion police had less to do. Advised by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to wear dressy business attire, the female stars resorted en masse to little black dresses. ''Kicky-cocktail," observed Debra Messing, herself done up in beaded Armani.
Afterward, the players retreated to the Century Plaza Hotel for the only official postshow bash, the Unity Dinner, where they noshed on filet of beef topped with foie gras. "Life is never going to be the same," said award-winning comedy Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall, "but I think it is time for us to celebrate again."
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