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'Girls' NYC Premiere Draws Brian Williams, Katie Couric, 'SNL' Stars and Comedy Titans

Lena Dunham's new show screened at the SVA Theater in New York and followed with an after-party that lasted late into the night.

Girls Premiere Cast Red Carpet - P 2012
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

It's not supposed to be this way. A 25-year old aspirant New Yorker should be standing in awe at this crowd, not in its center. But then, Lena Dunham has always done things her own way.

The premiere for Dunham’s new HBO show, Girls, brought together the biggest names in both news media and comedy on Wednesday night, first at the show’s three episode screening at the SVA Theater and then the Cinema Society-hosted after party at the Top of the Standard Hotel. And while on screen, Dunham scrounges around the city with empty pockets, feeling anonymous and confused, she was the radiant star throughout the evening.

Dunham’s co-executive producer, Judd Apatow, who as the dean of mainstream Hollywood comedy has made Dunham his latest student, held court with wife Leslie Mann amid peers and eager pupils. They ran the gamut, from Richard Dreyfuss and frequent collaborator Paul Feig (who called Girls the “new Freaks and Geeks”), to comedian Mike Birbiglia, writer/director Jorma Taccone, and current SNL stars such as Vanessa Bayer, Abby Elliot, Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan. Apatow was also seen having a conversation with Alex Karpovsky, a Girls' co-star (also Dunham's co-star in Tiny Furniture) and a writer-director with a film set to screen at the Tribeca Film Fest.

Moynihan at one point excitedly introduced himself to Tony Danza, who was commanding a corner of the room in a way that finally answered that decades old question regarding the identity of The Boss.

Other HBO stars there included Boardwalk Empire's Steve Buscemi.

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Out to support daughter Allison’s starring role in the project was NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, who stayed in his daughter’s reserved corner and greeted well wishers like a proud dad. While introducing the show at the screening, Apatow joked that it would be “the most uncomfortable evening in Brian Williams’ life,” due to the sex scene in which his daughter participated.

He wasn’t the only news media giant in attendance; later in the evening, Katie Couric made her way through the packed house (and posed for a shot with Williams), even though she would have to be up mere hours later to continue her guest-hosting run on Good Morning America.

Edward Norton spoke seriously at one of the long bars for quite some time about a new project he is scripting, while Claire Danes, the one-time embodiment of all things young and frustrated on television, quietly spoke with friends after finding out earlier in the day that her Showtime series, Homeland, had won a Peabody Award.

Kevin Bacon and wife Kyra Sedgwick made an appearance, greeting people by the large, u-shaped bar, as did radio host Ira Glass and former Mad Men star Brian Batt, while Girls co-stars Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke – who joked earlier that, thanks to having children at home, she can no longer party like her wild character in the show – congressed with friends far outside their reserved table zones.

By the end of the evening, Dunham, Apatow and the rest of the comedy crew all made their way to the more spacious dance floor, where they exchanged hugs, laughs and kind words, trading the high gloss of the swank bar for mini cupcakes and iPhone photos in a scene that, save for the formal wear, looks like it could have come straight out of the show they were celebrating.