By Dr. Myra Gutin, professor of Communication and Journalism
The excitement for my family began on July 17 when my daughter, Laura Gutin Peterson, texted us that she had been nominated for an Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series for Black-ish. Laura is one of the co-executive producers and a senior writer on the show. She has been writing in Hollywood for 19 years — a few of her shows were A to Z, Outsourced and The Carmichael Show — but this was her first Emmy nomination. For me and my husband, there was even greater excitement when Laura told us that she had gotten us tickets to attend the ceremony in Los Angeles on Sept. 17.
It’s hard to describe the atmosphere at the venue; I would call it controlled chaos. Limousines and cars were dropping off their occupants; I heard the assistants who were helping people out of their cars tell one another, “Laura Dern has just arrived.” Thanks to my daughter, my husband and I were dropped off at the entrance to the red carpet, and we were able to walk up to the location where presenters and nominees enter. We almost made it to the area you see on television, when someone looked at our tickets and said politely, but firmly, that we were in the wrong location. He pointed out another area where there were hundreds of people.
That was when my husband and I learned that there is a red carpet, the one all of us see, and there is a black carpet, for the non-nominees. As we walked along our carpet, we were able to look across to the other and watch the celebrities being interviewed. There were about seven or eight magazine shows that had booths for interviews. We saw Nicole Kidman talking to “E! Entertainment,” and “E! Live” was interviewing Anthony Anderson. As we were walking, Reese Witherspoon passed us. It happened so quickly that I didn’t even get the chance to say “Hi.”
After we had run the gauntlet of the black carpet, we reached the entrance to the Microsoft Theater, which seats 7,100. Our tickets had already been checked twice, but before going into the theater, we went through metal detectors. My evening bag was opened and searched, and my husband was wanded by a security guard. Finally, we were admitted to the theater.
We had been told that we should be in our seats by 4:30 p.m., and the doors to the theater would close at 4:45 p.m. We were in the third row of our section, my daughter and her husband on the floor of the theater — my son-in-law told us later that Oprah was just 20 rows in front of him.
The show started with a monologue by host Stephen Colbert and then the awards began. The atmosphere was electric as the presenters — Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon, Allison Janney, Carol Burnett, Norman Lear and Cicely Tyson — walked on stage. During a station break, Robert DeNiro walked by me. I also realized that the lighting board was on my left, and I could see the teleprompter, so I knew if someone was following the script or ad-libbing.
Of course, I, my husband and our friends and family across the country were waiting impatiently for the Outstanding Comedy Series category. We were optimistic, but Black-ish lost to Veep. My daughter and the other writers were disappointed, but were really honored to be nominated. At the conclusion of the ceremony, they left to attend the Governor’s Ball and other parties. My husband and I had dinner at a nice nearby restaurant and toasted the cast and writers of Black-ish. We’re very proud of Laura and all that she has achieved. We don’t have a doubt that she will be back at the Microsoft Theater for other exciting evenings in the future.
Published in the 9/27/17 edition.