Monday, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. ET

Fashion at the Emmys

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Robin Givhan
Washington Post Fashion Editor
Monday, September 17, 2007; 11:00 AM

Washington Post Fashion Editor Robin Givhan was online Monday, Sept. 17, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss fashion at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, broadcast Sunday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX from the Shrine Auditorium in downtown L.A.: what people wore, the best dressed and the worst and the gowns most likely to be coming to a prom near you.

A transcript follows.

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Robin Givhan: Hi everyone,

Thanks for joining me to parse the Emmy fashion choices. I'm looking forward to it!

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N.Y., N.Y.: Dear Ms. Givhan, why do you deem such votes on best/worst dressed necessary for a fashion critic and fashion journalism in general?

Robin Givhan: Dearest New York, NY: I do not deem such votes necessary. Just as I don't deem chocolate mousse necessary or the haggling over whether Barry Bonds should be celebrated as necessary. But all of it can be supremely satisfying.

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Ely, Nev.: Men's Fashions at the Emmy Awards.

Best Dressed would be a toss up between Kelsey Grammer and Tom Selleck with the latter taking the prize home for best dressed!

The Emmy, Grammy, Academy, Tony, & all other major awards shows are "FORMAL". The "Gangsta" Suit look is NOT formal. Neither is the "Pimp" look that Jimmy Jean-Louis arrived in! Most of them looked like Mob bosses or hit men on their way to a meeting with someone on "The Sopranos." Just because it won a few awards, does not give the men an excuse to arrive looking like a character in the series!

Joey Fatone needs to either take out the earrings or put in something smaller, simpler and more tasteful like diamond studs for an awards show. This isn't "Dancing With The Stars" and the pirate look is out for formal occasions.

Eric Dane looked entirely too scruffy. Zachary Quinto looked more like an out of work and down on his luck actor!

When Neil Patrick Harris arrived, I thought he was the mortician on "The Sopranos"!

Sendhil Ramamurthy...FYI, the "Miami Vice" look went out years ago! Next year, shave before you come or grow a complete beard.

Finally, I don't care who's label is sewn in the suit, if it isn't a tux with a bow tie or ascot, it's not formal enough to wear to an awards show! Our local McDonald's manager wears the same neck ties to work at the drive through window as these guys wore!

Robin Givhan: So many opinions, so little time to respond to the all! I thought Tom Selleck looked handsome but he did not turn my head. I despise all the men who turned up in pseudo formal attire. I especially disliked Ray Romano's orange tie. If you're going to go w/a more modern four-in-hand, choose a formal color. But for my money, I thought William H. Macy looked splendid. The man wore an ascot and looked fantastic.

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Philadelphia: I see Rebecca Romijn on a lot of "best dressed" lists from last night. I thought she looked matronly and chubby in that '20's inspired, dropped-waist number she wore last night. What did you think?

Robin Givhan: Ms. Romijn is not on my best dressed list. I've got no love for that dress. And frankly, with a figure like hers, why hide it under something that dowdy?

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Washington, D.C.: Dearest Robin: what about that Kate Walsh hair? Was it half Princess Leia? What about a TV show for you, RG? An Emmy would go nicely with your Pulitzer, n'est-ce pas? D

Robin Givhan: Oh aren't you sweet! Some people belong on TV. Others do not. I do not belong on TV. I'd have one of the Broadcast News sweaty meltdowns at the thought of all those people staring at me. I"m in awe of celebs on the red carpet who don't sweat, especially last night when everyone was complaining about the heat.

There were several major hair malfunctions last night. Kate Walsh...a sexy side swipe gone awry. Such bad hair on such a pretty girl! I don't know where to begin w/Ellen Pompeo's hair. I'll be writing about that for tomorrow's paper. It rivals that Jennifer Lopez scary bouffant from several Oscars back.

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Maryland: Please celebs...leave feathers on birds where they belong!!!

Robin Givhan: Oh you're so wrong. Loved Vanessa Williams and her feathers. LOVED. And I'm sure no bird were harmed in the making of her gown.

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Annandale, Va.: What misstep did Becki Newton make in her mermaid dress?

Robin Givhan: um, wearing it?

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Alexandria, Va.: Worst-dressed for me: Hayden Panettiere and Jenna Fischer. Hayden's too petite to wear such a poofy dress, and Jenna's was just awful.

Otherwise, the women looked fabulous! Kate Walsh had the best of the red dresses. I do wish Katherine Heigl would wear some color. I remember her wearing a nude color dress recently too. With her coloring, she could do so many different color dresses, a la Uma Thurman. Loved Ellen Pompeo's hair!

Robin Givhan: I thought the Marc Bouwer dress on Hayden overwhelmed her. And she's only 18 for pete's sake. She's got a lifetime to hide in a big poof of taffeta. I actually love Katherine Heigl in white. I think she can pull it off. I couldn't even focus on Kate Walsh's dress -- I think it was by Pamela Dennis, but I don't have my notes right in front of me -- for that hair. It looked messy. Not sexy messy, just messy.

And as for Ellen Pompeo's hair. Yeah, well, Lisa Renna loved her hair...and have you taken a look at Lisa Renna's fashion sense?

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Let's hear it for the redheads! : Debra Messing, Marcia Cross and Kate Walsh...stunning!

I'll take Debra Messing's jewelry, Marcia Cross's dress, (I thought it was neat) and Kate Walsh just looked great. What was with Marcia's turquoise earrings though? Don't you think she should have worn diamonds with that dress? What do you think?

Robin Givhan: I liked Debra's jewelry. I despised Marcia's dress. Way, way too much was going on with it but mostly the color was hideous on her. She is a woman who listens to her dermatologist and stays out of the sun. But she is as pale as a ghost. That ivory color did her no favors. With all that was going on with the dress, I didn't think she needed big dangly earrings, but the turquoise didn't bother me. I thought it was interesting. Kate Walsh...pretty dress. Bad hair.

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Feathers: I personally think they look absolutely ridiculous on any dress, hat, etc. And that color mint was horrible. A brighter green would have been better.

Robin Givhan: Okay, clearly, you're a feather hater. I think you should recuse yourself from this vote....really, I'm just kidding.

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Vienna, Va.: I didn't think there were too many awful dresses (well except for Elizabeth Perkins). There were some odd choices like America Ferrera's dress, a lovely color but made her look wide. The gathers were too much like horizontal stripes. But overall not too bad. Now, the hair situation was appalling, who decided that bee hive, messy, frizzy puffs were in style?

Robin Givhan: Oh, this gives me an opportunity to weigh in on America. Love her. The dress was not the most flattering. I thought it was too tight...as was that red Dolce dress that Elizabeth Perkins wore. It probably fit fine in real life, but on TV, satin shows every crease, line and strain. She looked like she was going to burst from the gown.

On to America. Everyone talks about how voluptuous she is. Have you seen her on the cover of Glamour? She looks gorgeous and not at all like a "big" girl. Apparently she's a size 6. She's quite short, but still...only in Hollywood is a 6..."big".

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New York City: My Top Ten:

Eva Longoria

Minnie Driver

Julia Louis Dreyfuss

Kate Walsh

Ali Larter

America Ferrara

Heidi Klum

Kristen Bell

Mary Louise Parker

Marcia Cross

Robin Givhan: hmm, I'm with you on Eva,Ali, Julia, Heidi.

I liked Minnie's dress but I thought the color made her look green. I've said enough about my issues w/Kate Walsh. Marcia Cross's dress is, perhaps, an acquired taste. Like brussel sprouts. Didn't see Kristin Bell.

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St. Paul:

I think I liked Sandra Oh's dress best. Riff on that a bit.

Also, do you think that Emmy dresses reflect fashion trends generally? Or is fashion at these kind of events kind of its own thing? Were there any trends last night that we will be seeing in ready to wear for us in the masses?

Robin Givhan: Sandra Oh...LOVE the dress was by Bottega Veneta. I loved how stark it was. I thought it balanced her proportions. I just thought it was chic.

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Richmond, Va.: You know what struck me? No one, bar none, was absolutely, lusciously glamorous. I was nostalgic for the days when there were really beautiful people (Rita Hayworth's, Marilyn Monroe's -- you know). I saw a lot of so-called stars who just looked dull and uninteresting (hair all askew, dowdy dresses). As far as the men ... yep, as you said, tux only, but mostly I'm talking about the women -- designers gowns notwithstanding.

Robin Givhan: How old are you? Gotta go back to Rita Hayworth to find a babe?! Come on. Eva Longoria looked great. Vanessa Williams was, whether you like feathers or not, certainly not dowdy.

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Love the Closer: Hi! I love Kyra Sedgwick and think she always looks fab but not last night. Was the ensemble better in person? I like the two-piece idea but it looked like off the rack. She usually does well in Bottega.

Robin Givhan: I'm generally not a big Kyra fan -- sartorially speaking. I found the black gown boring. And on TV -- I was not on the red carpet, thank the good Lord Jesus -- it read like a big blob of black. Off the rack?! Are you mad?! That was Oscar de la Renta, which leads me to suspect it was much prettier in person.

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Atlanta: Two thoughts on the fashion:

1. I didn't care for all the white dresses. True white is a difficult color to wear head-to-toe and most looked washed out. I know that the "no white after Labor Day" rule no longer applies, but the all-white look just didn't seem seasonal or appropriate.

2. I can't stand to watch the coverage surrounding these types of shows b/c of all the "So who are you wearing?," "who's jewelry are you wearing?" Now, I heard this morning, E has a shoe cam to get in the footwear designer plugs! There's something so tacky about all these well-off, often loaded actresses who borrow dresses and jewelry. It seems so gauche. Give me Liz Taylor and the gals who own their own rocks any day!

Robin Givhan: Now if you're going to get all chocked full of integrity and logic...step away from the award show telecast! It's a big ole advertisement for the fashion industry. I say, if the jewelers and dressmakers are loaning merch and getting credit, then the cobblers who are making loans ought to get their merch on TV, too! I actually love that the actors no longer try to be coy. They just spell it out: shoes, dress, bag, jewelry. They'll even acknowledge their underwear.

As for the white. I'm not sure of the exact temperature in LA last night, but it was obviously boiling. I think white was perfectly fine. But not everyone looks great in it.

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Northern Va.: Glenn Close looked fabulous. Casual but elegant and what a body. That gal is not young and I thought she looked amazing.

Robin Givhan: Glenn was wearing Armani. I thought she looked great, too. Tres classy.

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Falls Church, Va.: Being a 10/12 myself, I'd say that America Ferrara looked more like an 8/10 last night. Def not a 6. A 6 is 135 lbs. I am not a hater, I love her, but she is more than that. And more power to her! I love it.

Robin Givhan: I think America is only about 5-1 or something like that. Not to get too much in the girl's business, but she's around a 10 on top and a 6 on the bottom. I think between TV and that dress, she looked a good 15 pounds heavier than she actually is.

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Columbus, Ohio: Maybe my questions is a little bit off topic, but I'm really curious about what has happened at the end of Sally Field's acceptance speech. Was there certain censorship going on, or just a technical problem.

Robin Givhan: i'm not sure what happened either. Tom Shales writes about the speech in his story today. Frankly, somebody needed to cut her off if only because she had stopped making sense.

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I loved Kyra's dress: I thought it looked edgy and classy at the same time. She very rarely misses in my opinion. I bet you if we could see that dress in person, with all the texture it looked like it had, it'd be gorgeous.

I'm with you on Ellen Pompeo's hair, but I loved her dress. I thought she looked dainty rather than scary skinny. Also loved Debra Messing's Ralph Lauren. With her red hair being the only "color" she had on, it was awesome.

Robin Givhan: You're probably right on Kyra's de la Renta. A lot of dresses that are beautiful in person do not look good on television, subtle details don't show up. That's especially a problem with black gowns.

Pompeo looked like she'd gained a few pounds and was better for it.

Thought Debra's dress was okay. Ordinarily, she's a fashion star...this one looked too much like another Ralph Lauren dress she wore a while back -- black and white horizontal stripes. And the other one was much, much better.

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Arlington, Va.: Is it ever appropriate for a man to wear an open collar with a tux? I was surprised Thomas Hayden Church was even allowed in the auditorium, let alone on TV, not wearing a tie.

And what are your thoughts on Terry O'Quinn's pink shirt?

Robin Givhan: In a word: no. Thomas Church looked like he was coming home from a business casual day at the office. Terry's pink shirt was unspeakable.

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Washington, D.C.: Did you get to see the show in Hi Def? It makes the dresses look prettier but the makeup look scarier.

Robin Givhan: I have an old TV. ...maybe The Post will upgrade me.

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Washington, D.C.: Dear Robin,

Isn't it strange that America Ferrara was selected to play a not-stick-thin girl in the fashion world and that, since her success on the show, she has proceeded to whittle herself down to stick-thin size (as clearly reflected by the gown, which showed that America Ferrara has lost a lot of weight since her "Real Women Have Curves" debut)? Doesn't the fact that she's succumbed to the Hollywood pressure undercut the entire premise of Ugly Betty in which a "real" woman succeeds in the ridiculously superficial fashion world? I would love your thoughts on this!

Robin Givhan: I have lots of thoughts on this, but in the Glamour interview she discusses how so much of her fame and popularity are related to her size. And she feared that if she became fitter -- as in losing some weight -- that people would think that she had succumbed or was selling out or what have you. she has said she has no desire to be a size 2 but that any weight loss would be highly scrutinized even if it was a healthy loss.

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We polled at the office...: We decided that Katherine Heigl looked great, Joely Fisher should have decided that either she was going to show the girls or her legs but not both and that we're not fans of purple dresses with purple shoes, Ms. Louis-Dreyfus!

Robin Givhan: Joely Fisher should have given the girls more cover. I missed Julia's purple shoes. Must have turned away from the E! stiletto cam. But I thought her Narciso Rodriguez dress was a stunner.

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Fairfax, Va.: I'm a guy so excuse this stupid question, but how on earth do women get into those things? Or out of them to visit the loo? And is double backed tape really involved?

Robin Givhan: Oh dearest Fairfax,

Do you really want to have the magic taken away from fashion? Not so hard to visit the loo in a slinky little dress or even a voluminous one. not to be too graphic, but you learn how to manage these sorts of things sometime around...oh senior prom.

And yes...double-sided tape really is involved. you thought all those women were relying on perfect posture and no wind?

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Re: Richmond: As for why stars today are less "glamorous" than stars past, I'd say it's because people have a different relationship with celebrity than they once did. We like tabloid pictures of stars grocery shopping and whatnot, and want to imagine them as our BFF, not just some untouchable goddess. A few people still have that Ivory Tower quality (Angelina Jolie and Nicole Kidman come to mind) but you don't have the studio system's same control over a star's image. We've all seen photos of Eva Longoria without make-up and fake eyelashes, so it would be weird if she showed up at every single event trying to look like Grace Kelly. Why shouldn't she rock that cute, sequined number instead?

Also, in a more fashion-centric sense, there are so many more events like the Emmys where stars are not only supposed to look attractive, but eye-catching. Jennifer Aniston (who I don't think was there last night) almost always looks great, but she wears tons of black and long, straight hair and generally doesn't attract a ton of red carpet attention. Compare with Gwyneth Paltrow, who's more hit-or-miss but always talked about. A well-worn and unusual dress can catapult people into a higher stratosphere of celebrity (Elizabeth Hurley's famous Versace clothespin dress is probably the best example), so people will take more risks but are also more likely to miss the mark than when they just wear something they know to be flattering. Not that there's anything wrong with just trying to look pretty, but that's not always the game celebrities are trying to play.

Robin Givhan: I can only say that I agree.

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: What was Ellen Pompeo thinking? Her hair was a total embarrassment. She should apologize to the public.

Robin Givhan: No apology necessary. Just a shampoo. T.R. Knight's hair wasn't so great either. Weirdly dark and oddly parted down the middle.

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Falls Church, Va.: I don't know why, but when I saw actresses in dresses with a slit up to the thigh - I felt the dresses looked dated and a bit prom-ish.

Robin Givhan: Dear Falls Church,

I find your post far more disturbing for what it says about proms than about actresses....

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50+: It's easy to identify the best dressed for the 30 & under crowd. How about of those who are 50 & older?

Robin Givhan: um, I'm sorry. This is TV. Were there any actresses in the 50 plus range? Just kidding. Isn't Sally Field up there? She looked quite pretty. I was lukewarm on Helen Mirren. That dress had too much straps. She looked trussed. How old is Glenn Close? She looked fantastic. If she's the right age, she wins the 50-plus sweepstakes.

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Top Chef?: I thought Padma whats-her-name looked unbelievable.

What about Seacrest and that skinny tie. I thought it was atrocious.

Robin Givhan: Missed Padma. Seacrest was rocking Christian Dior. I too despised the skinny tie. The tux wasn't narrow enough to make it work. he just looked like his tie was too small.

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McLean, Va.: Do the people who dress these women cooperate in any way? It would seem a big deal if two women had similar dresses.

Robin Givhan: If two women showed up in the same dress, stylists and designers would be taken to some Hollywood back lot and slaughtered. Designers only loan one dress in each style. And generally, the dress has been specially made or altered for the actress.

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Ely, Nev.: Regarding the fashion show tonight at the Emmy Awards.

To begin with, the hoopla over Eva Longoria's dress is highly overrated. It's a cocktail dress and this is a "formal" occasion. I think she committed the "faux pas" of the evening. We need to stop letting celebrities dress themselves and get away with wearing inappropriate attire to some of these occasions. While it's a great look and she looked good in it, it's the wrong dress for an awards show.

Second, I don't mind if Ellen DeGeneres wants to dress manly. But again, this is a formal occasion. She should have worn a tux with the proper neck attire. No mixing gender in the formal attire category! Sorry Ellen! That necklace, blouse and etc...have to go! Dress manly or wear a dress, but, dress FORMAL for formal occasions!

Finally, best dressed was a toss up between Lorraine Bracco and Minnie Drive with the latter coming in first place. Minnie's dress and accessories were No. 1! Surprisingly, this year I didn't find any of the dresses too gaudy or garish with the exception of the sack that Jaime Pressly arrived in. It looked ill fitting and was not in the least flattering to her figure. The neck line and the attempt at some kind of sleeves made what could have been a smashing dress look like a frock you'd wear house cleaning. The peasant look in the neckline and sleeves doesn't work in formal wear!

Robin Givhan: I think Eva's short dress was fine. You could argue it was cocktail, but it was extremely dressy cocktail and formal does not have to mean floor length. Technically it means floor length, but I think there is room to be creative.

Thought Ellen looked terrific, too. Just because she opted not to wear a dress doesn't mean her only alternative is a an actual tuxedo. And I thought the gold necklace was a wonderful alternative to some stuffy tie or nothing.

And here, let me disagree again. I loved the color of Minnie's dress....but did not like it on her. It was bordering on chartreuse. That's a tough color to wear. And for me it didn't work on Minnie.

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Glenn Close:..is 60, according to IMDB.

Robin Givhan: Well, there you have it. She wins the AARP Emmy fashion Super Bowl!

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Falls Church, Va.: Why did Xtina look different to me? She did not look like herself - in her face. And oh, that dress was totally trying to hide the baby bump.

Robin Givhan: I think she was channeling a 50s jazz singer. I forgave the look because she was in fine, fine voice.

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Chicago: I've been following Julia Louis-Dreyfus's career since I was in junior high and she was on SNL. How is it that the older she gets, the more beautiful she gets. Is there a portrait of her rotting somewhere?

Robin Givhan: I love Julia too. Someone from E! asked how she stayed so trim and fit. She said she worked out and ate nothing good. Which I thought was very funny and honest. When asked what she had for breakfast, she said: scrambled egg whites.

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DC: I'm surprised no one has mentioned Jennifer Love-Hewitt. She's such a pretty girl, with staying power. I had almost completely forgotten about her, but she reminded me in a powerful way!

Robin Givhan: Jennifer Love- Hewitt. I just don't get the fuss.

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Mariska!: Ms. Givhan, how about Mariska Hargitay? I think she's hot (this coming from a fellow over 40 gal) and love the shorter hair do. Also I think Vanessa William always looks great. The color and cut and FEATHERS were fabulous on her.

Robin Givhan: I love Mariska with short hair. Much better than long-hair Mariska. And yea, she IS hot. Vanessa Williams' skin is just ridiculously radiant.

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Perkins: wore an ugly white printed frock; Mary-Louise Parker wore the too tight Dolce and Gabana corset dress. They are on the same show, though, so you were close.

Robin Givhan: Oh geeze. I do get them confused. Was Mary Elizabeth Mastrotonio, or whatever, there too?

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Los Angeles: Hi Robin! I read the article in yesterday's NY Times re Rachel Zoe. Very interesting. Do you think stylists are part of the problem? What happened to actors just picking out their own clothes? I mean how hard is it to buy a dress or a suit? Especially when you have lots of $$$.

Robin Givhan: BUY a red carpet dress? Oh how charming.

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Washington, D.C.: This is fun! Can you come back every week?!

Robin Givhan: This has, indeed been major fun. Thanks for all of your comments, observations and opinions. I have to go write my Emmy story now.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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