Dressed-Down Actors Rehearse Emmys Lines

LOS ANGELES (August 27, 2006) — Carrying an acoustic guitar, Conan O’Brien took the stage at the Shrine Auditorium and faced an audience filled with television’s most famous faces. But except for a few headset-wearing workers, the theater was nearly empty. The famous faces were on white seat-saving placards: Jon Stewart, Felicity Huffman, Steve Carell, Heather Locklear and scores more.

With TV’s biggest night-- the Primetime Emmy Awards-- only hours away, this was the last chance for O’Brien, the show’s host, and celebrity presenters to rehearse their roles before Sunday’s live telecast.

Candice Bergen relaxed in the green room-- really a sand-colored, Moroccan-themed enclave trimmed in red-- while comedian Howie Mandel marched on stage with a bevy of “Deal or No Deal” beauties.

Mandel, in jeans, a green T-shirt and mismatched “anti-Garanimal” sneakers, practiced his presentation of the best-direction award. Stage manager Dency Nelson, in a turn as trophy girl, emerged holding a golden Emmy statuette. A stand-in approached the stage to accept the prize.

A slightly confused Mandel asked, “Do I kiss him?”

Earlier in the day, the comedian munched on a turkey panini in the green room and chatted about the Emmy experience.

Being asked to participate in the show is “really flattering,” he said.

“TV is on 24-7, on 600 stations,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that could be here. To be asked to be part of TV’s biggest night is an honor.”

Other presenters on Saturday’s rehearsal schedule included Heidi Klum, Eva Longoria, Patrick Dempsey, Hugh Laurie, Helen Mirren and Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Hewitt, in blue jeans and a flouncy purple tank top, ran through her lines twice, trying her entrance from each side of the stage.

Mirren, looking summery in a coral sweater set and khaki skirt, stepped on stage with Laurie, her presenting partner. Even with her platform sandals, she was a foot shorter than the “House” star, who wore a face-full of stubble, gray jeans and a black T-shirt. It was almost strange to see him walk without his character’s shuffling limp.

Dennis Haysbert _ who played President David Palmer on “24” _ retained a regal air even in jeans. He strode on stage, presented a prize, and quickly disappeared down one of the Shrine’s snaking hallways.

One of them led to the Governors Ball area, where pearl-trimmed chandeliers hung from a moss-covered tree and immaculately set tables awaited Emmy celebrants.

Outside, workers meticulously readied the red carpet for famous feet.

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