The theme of this year's Governors Ball, held after the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Creative Arts Primetime Emmys on Sept. 20 is "Let There Be Color," with Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" ("In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure dome decree") as inspiration. And as I wind my way through traffic on Thursday on my way to the cavernous depths of the Los Angeles Convention Center, where the ball will be held, I can't help thinking about the names this theme evokes in me. I'm thinking Kenneth Anger, Orson Welles and Olivia Newton-John.
As it stands, the Anger comparison is perhaps the most apt, at least visually -- the entirety of the center's West Hall A has been steeped in a sort of candy-colored homage to MGM's "Arabian Nights" pictures, with a touch of Vegas VIP rooms for flavor. The color scheme can be best described as Decor by Life-Savers - everywhere is lime, orange, grape and tropical punch (or blue-raspberry - I'm a little colorblind). Two thousand yards of Fortuny-style patterned silk are tented above my head and those of the media streaming through the cavernous room, while 48 oversized hanging lanterns dangle like jellyfish from the ceilings.
At the center of the room, a colossal rotating dais is buttressed on every side by overstuffed purple love seats, and atop it, a pianist works through 1960s-cool renditions of "Nature Boy" and "Quiet Nights (Corcovado)." The walls are steeped in black with twinkling lights to approximate stars, while at opposite corners, seeming miles away, are lounges, stocked with a flotilla of glasses, and lighted to create the right degree of anonymity mixed with "Hey, is that who I think it is?" One half expects Cornel Wilde to knife-ride down one of the silk drapings (much to the chagrin of the workers who made them, no doubt), tumble artfully to the floor, and then perhaps do the Hustle.