Secrets of Emmy's It Party

HBO's annual soiree is the hot ticket year after year as its longtime event designer, Billy Butchkavitz, shares his secrets for making 50,000 square feet sizzle.

Outfitting a 50,000-square-foot space for 2,500 guests requires an intimate knowledge of the three B's of event design -- big builds, bold flourishes and bright colors -- as well as an ability to coordinate 50 delivery trucks in the Pacific Design Center's driveway and wrestle with 73 rolls of custom carpet.

For this year's HBO bash -- for years considered the party to beat -- event designer Billy Butchkavitz, who along with his brother Brian and sister Peggy have been executing fresh looks for the event since 1994, are going with a "glorious garden theme," he says, in patterns of yellow, green, blue and purple that "can look a bit overwhelming in daylight, but at night with theatrical lighting create a festive mood."

A new touch is stadium lounge seating on one side of the Pacific Design Center plaza. Says Butchkavitz: "This will enable partygoers to hang out, network and gossip while keeping an eye on the dance floor." Yellow birdcage-like forms (18 feet high) will anchor the tent, while wait-staff uniforms are designed to match drapes suspended from a 30-foot ceiling.

The designer begins planning as early as February to avoid rush fees and works with longtime vendors like Set Masters, which has built props for shows like Deadwood, and SEC, which worked on the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries wedding. Butchkavitz, who can't risk showing favor to any one series in his designs, says that, after all the stress, "you get congratulations and hugs from [HBO co-presidents] Michael Lombardo and Richard Plepler. They make me feel like part of the family."

INSIDE INTERIOR DESIGN: Over the years, Butchkavitz's inspirations have taken him around the globe and all over the Pantone color chart. For last year's party, abounding with "tangerine and raspberry circles and spheres," he built "elevated lounges on towers" to give partygoers a bird's-eye view of the party. This year's garden theme comes complete with a floral chandelier (rendering on right, along with fabric swatch) that will reign over a custom transparent yellow tent. In 2007, a 27-foot-tall golden Buddha was the centerpiece of a "grandeur of Thailand" theme. HBO's 2008 Emmy party celebrated South American art and architecture and featured a silver chandelier inspired by one hanging in Brazil's Cathedral of Brasilia built by celebrated architect Oscar Niemeyer.


EMMY PARTY CHEAT SHEET: Where and when revelers will toast one another over the long party weekend.


  • Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Party for the Nominees: Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood
  • UTA: UTA managing director Jay Sures and wife Molly Isaksen, host the agency's party at their house in Brentwood
  • WME: Milk Studios, 855 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A.
  • CAA: Bouchon, 235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills
  • Entertainment Weekly: Fig & Olive, 8490 Melrose Place, L.A.
  • Women in Film: Scarpetta, 225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills


  • ICM: Fig & Olive. Brunch.
  • BAFTA/LA: London Hotel, 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood. Afternoon tea.
  • The Motion Picture & Television Fund Evening Before Party: Avenue of the Stars and Constellation Boulevard, Century City. "I get to remind people that it's the Motion Picture & Television Fund. Most of the time they think it's only about film," says MPTF CEO Ken Scherer.
  • Showtime: Tower Bar, 8358 Sunset Blvd., L.A. With a perform- ance by John Legend.
  • NBC: Boa, 9200 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood
  • History Channel: Soho House, 9200 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood


  • Governors Ball: Nokia Theatre adjacent, 777 Chick Hearn Court, L.A.
  • Comedy Central: Cecconi's, 8764 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. Says president Michele Ganeless on why her network is having a party, "It's a lot easier to con your way into your own party than it is to get past HBO's velvet rope."
  • HBO: Pacific Design Center
  • Fox, 20TH Century Fox TV and FX: Soleto Trattoria, 801 S. Figueroa St., L.A.
  • AMC: Lure, 1439 Ivar Ave., Hollywood
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