By SANDY COHEN
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Even the Emmy host needs to blow off some steam before the big show.
Neil Patrick Harris sipped a cocktail and bantered with friends at Entertainment Weekly’s pre-Emmy party, one of several events in Tinseltown Friday celebrating Emmy nominees. The sophomore Emmy host made an early exit from the gathering at Fig & Olive, which drew scores of stars and a small group of fans who were forced to stand across the street and crane for a celebrity sighting.
Kristen Chenoweth, Kaley Cuoco, Amber Riley, Aasif Mandvi, Jason Mraz and Ashlee Simpson were among the party guests, along with Raquel Welch, who held court at the back of the restaurant in a form-fitting leopard-print dress and gold stiletto cage sandals.
Just around the corner, the TV academy held its annual reception for nominated performers at the Pacific Design Center. A ballroom became a quirky library setting, with books and old knick-knacks dotting antique bookshelves. A full dinner spread of steak, salmon and an array of salads covered two large buffet tables inside, and there was more food outside on the heated patio.
The patio also held a small stage, where the nominees accepted certificates and posed for a group photo. Some actors used the opportunity to geek out on their favorite stars. As soon as Michelle Dockery of “Downton Abbey” came up, Anna Chlumsky leaned in and introduced herself, saying, “I’m a big, big fan of yours.”
Lily Tomlin, who helps lead the acting branch of the TV academy, praised her colleagues on stage.
“I’m so awed to look at you guys,” she said. “You have such great hair and everything else.”
Alfre Woodard, Scott Baklula, Elizabeth Moss and “Modern Family” stars Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen were among the night’s party-hoppers (show sponsor Audi provided car service to make it easier). Women in Film also held a nominees’ gathering, while “Mad Men” had its own affair at Chateau Marmont.
The Emmy Awards will be presented Sunday at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater and broadcast on CBS.