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Marilyn Monroe Inspires Emmys' Expanded Governors Ball

To mark the Emmys' diamond anniversary, the Academy gave the Governors Ball a new venue, an increased guest count, and a look inspired by Marilyn Monroe.

Ball co-chair Dwight Jackson incorporated sparkling drapes and chandeliers as a nod to the ball's diamond anniversary.

Photo: Nadine Froger

Last night’s 60th annual primetime Emmy Awards celebrated excellence in television, awarding actors including Glenn Close, Tina Fey, and Jeremy Piven statuettes for their roles on the small screen. But it was a film rather than a television series that inspired the decor behind this year’s Governors Ball. Because 2008 marks the diamond anniversary of the Emmys, ball co-chair Dwight Jackson decided to incorporate diamonds into his design, and turned to Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in the classic 1958 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for creative inspiration.

Jackson, who enlisted the help of Sequoia Productions’ Cheryl Cecchetto to produce the event, created a color scheme of black and Schiaparelli pink—the shade of Monroe’s dress in the musical number. Guests found touches of the distinctive bright pink hue scattered throughout the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, where it popped up in the form of tablecloths, napkins, throw pillows, ottomans, and strips of carpeting.

Kevin Lee and his team at La Premier looked at 30 varieties of roses in an effort to find a flower that precisely matched the Schiaparelli shade, finally settling on the shocking versillia rose. The company imported 50,000 of the flowers from Colombia, Ecuador, and Holland to create 650 arrangements, displayed in vases wrapped in black velvet. Lee added rhinestone bands to the base of certain vases to mimic the appearance of a woman’s gloved arm wearing a jeweled bracelet.

The sparkling centerpiece detail was in keeping with the ball’s glittering decor, which included 312 diamond-shaped chandeliers stacked into vertical strands and strung from rafters, as well as custom black drapes adorned with diamond-like gems meant to evoke the stars that hung from the perimeter. “The [West Hall] is huge, and the drapes really helped to pull everything in visually,” Jackson said.

Slightly raised platform seating areas located at each corner of the 147,500-square-foot hall also functioned to make the vast space feel more intimate. The venue became the new home to the Governors Ball (formerly held at the Shrine’s exposition hall) because of its proximity to the new award show location at the Nokia Theater, and allowed the Academy to comfortably increase the guest count from 2,800 to 3,600. “We were able to have a lot more room around tables so you no longer felt like you’re having dinner with your elbows tucked in,” Jackson said.


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