By Irene Lacher Posted September 8, 2008, 10:45 AM EDT
LOS ANGELES How much does HBO love Alan Ball, executive producer of its hit Six Feet Under and its trumpeted new vampire series True Blood? Enough to send the cable channel’s favorite event planner, Billy Butchkavitz, to the set to find inspiration for the after-party of True Blood’s premiere Thursday—a first in Butchkavitz’s 14-year collaboration with HBO. And enough to cover the roof of the ArcLight Hollywood parking structure with 30,000 square feet of crimson carpet, topped with banquettes, buffets, and seats covered in 2,400 yards of cut red velve to create a vast vampire-friendly landscape the color of blood.
The evening began with a Cinerama Dome screening of two hourlong episodes of the Southern Gothic series starring Anna Pacquin as a telepathic waitress. Nearly 1,200 guests ascended to the roof party, where waiters met them with jars of Tru Blood cocktails (rum, cranberry juice, and pineapple juice), named after the synthetic blood consumed by the show’s vampires. Working with HBO vice president of special events Lauren McMahon, Butchkavitz combined props from the set with Mexican relic shrines and wooden birds to create an atmosphere of creepy elegance.
Lining the walls were copies of posters decorated with devils that appear in the show’s vampire nightclub, Fangtasia. The neon sign for Merlotte’s, the local watering hole where much of the action takes place, beamed over the party, which was dotted with gazebos strung with plastic garlic. The wrought-iron-style structures sheltered headstone props (and Arclight’s firefighting equipment hidden under red velvet). Borrowing from Merlotte’s taxidermy-heavy decor, Butchkavitz topped tables with wooden birds, red Mardi Gras-style beads and cemetery lanterns holding pillar candles, embellished with tarantula magnets. Guests grazed at Along Came Mary’s Louisiana bayou buffet of ribs, sausage, cornbread pudding, cole slaw, and biscuits.
Some of True Blood’s characters may thrive in darkness, but the series also has a mischievous side, and the party had plenty of fun elements: tall glass jars filled with plastic fangs, red devil masks, and waitstaff T-shirts and boxes of mints emblazoned with “Suck on this.” The party was still going after midnight, when revelers who keep vampire hours filled up the dance floor, where they rocked to tunes spun by DJ Pesce.