Amy Brenneman
Amy Brenneman

August 26, 2014

Emmys 2014

They snuck up on me.


Since I didn’t have to go, and since back-to-school was the same week, searching for an Emmy outfit got upstaged by picking out the right pencil case for my fourth grader.


But suddenly the weekend was upon us and suddenly I thought hey!  I want to go to that HBO after party!  That’s the fun of being on an HBO show, right?  So I got it together to have someone throw curlers in my hair while I my daughter read to me for her daily school reading log.  I threw on a sparkly top and hoped that nobody would compare me to the gals in their gowns (they didn’t) and suddenly I was on a red carpet being asked about the broadcast, which I hadn’t even seen because of the aforementioned reading log.  And I felt a little silly and a little bit like a charlatan, but then I reasoned hey!  I have every right to be at this HBO party!  I am on an HBO show!


People think walking the red carpet is really glamorous, but inside, we are all a jumble.


But here’s why I really and truly love the Emmys and the Oscars.  In our little industry family, it’s when we gather together.  It’s our High Holidays, and it’s beautiful.  Once the red carpet performance is done, and we are safely inside the party with a drink in our hands, we see people that we really, really like and really, really respect.  And maybe for the first time or maybe for the millionth, we get to say to our fellow artists:  “I love your show.”  “You do great work.”  Or even, “That show saved my life when I was going through a divorce/when I was growing up/when I was lost.”


Over the past three days, here are some things that happened to me (I get super name-droppy here, watch out):

  • I sat with Anna Chlumsky and talked about my love for Veep until I was blue in the face, quoting her lines back to her to prove my love.
  • Lea Michele told me she was going as Laurie Garvey for Halloween.
  • I caught up with my old pal Viola Davis, who I know from theater days in New York, as we commiserated over working long hours while trying to mother small children.  That, and the ins and outs of false eyelashes.
  • I brushed past Mark Ruffalo and his Emmy on a red carpet.  Both were exciting.
  • I walked past a stunningly beautiful woman, Laverne Cox, who grabbed me and told me how much she loved Judging Amy, how Tyne and I were a rock for her in troubled times, and how we gave her an image of friendship between two strong women.
  • I told Brian Baumgartner from The Office how much that show meant to me, and how much I miss it, and how I wish him well.  Then we walked together down a red carpet, with our arms around each other and maybe, just momentarily, started a rumor.

There are many facets to my business, and I’m pretty clear on what I do.   I make up stories with other kids, just like I’ve been doing since I was 7 years old.  It feels subversive, really, that in the midst of a much-hyped event like the Emmys, where the outside world is judging EVERYTHING – who won? Who lost?  Who wore the best dressed?  The worst?  — we artists, in the privacy of our own community, get to connect on a soul-level.  Creativity doesn’t judge the way the Best/Worst judgers do (who ARE those people anyway? Don’t they know that every single person on that red carpet is trying their best?)  Creativity doesn’t do hierarchy, or us/them, or who’s in/out.  Creativity craves connection and openly expresses gratitude for a job well done.


Finally, there is the sublime joy of having my partner in art, the father of my children and my best friend on my arm throughout an awards weekend.  Brad Silberling and I have been going to those parties together for 20 years now.  (One of our first big dates was to the Emmys when I got nominated for NYPD Blue.)  As I get approached, so does he, for being the amazing director, producer and writer that he is.  We had a great visit with Christine Lahti and Tommy Schlamme, whom I greatly admire together and separately, and I walked away thinking:  another long-term marriage.  A role model for us, as hopefully we are for others.


People like to think of Hollywood as cutthroat.  It’s not.  It’s a competitive business to be sure, and in any business the bottom-line rules.  But that’s about the bottom line, that’s not about the people.  Whenever creativity and collaboration are present, my experience is that folks long to make connection and speak from the heart.


Just maybe not on the red carpet.