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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When the Emmy-nominated television stars begin their stroll up the red carpet Sunday at U.S. TV's top honors, one nominee will be on the wrong side of the line between celebrities and onlookers, Carrie Ann Inaba.
But don't think the judge of No. 2-rated U.S. TV show "Dancing With the Stars," which was nominated for 10 Emmys this year, was wronged by award organizers because Inaba is where she wants to be. She is hosting the TV Guide Network's coverage of the Emmys red carpet and asking questions of stars instead of rubbing elbows with them.
"I actually feel more comfortable doing this than walking the red carpet. There's so much pressure in walking the red carpet," Inaba told Reuters.
Alongside fellow "Dancing" judges Len Goodman (the upholder of conservative ballroom dancing) and Bruno Tonioli (the voice of brash showmanship), Inaba plays the middle of the panel, cheering daring choreography as long as it stays within the rules of ballroom dancing on the popular TV contest.
The show is seen by more than 20 million viewers weekly, and it earned Emmy nods for best reality competition, best host (Tom Bergeron) and choreography, among its nods.
As a judge on "Dancing," Inaba has become as popular among TV audiences as the stars she will question on Emmy night. Still, she thinks she will make a top-notch and inquisitive red carpet reporter because she's been a big TV fan since childhood and sees less like a nominee and more like an everyday viewer.
By blending her audience point-of-view about TV with her industry insider knowledge, she thinks she can provide special insight to viewers of the TV Guide Network on Emmy night.
"I'm not going to pretend that I'm not on a show, but I'm going to be meeting people I've never met before," she said.
The dancer and choreographer-turned TV personality said one of her goals is to bring some real-life to the red carpet filled with women in couture gowns and dripping in diamonds -- most all of which are on loan.
She does not want to dull the glamour, but she does want viewers to know that in this culture of celebrity where stars are emulated, it is more important to develop one's own sense of style and be comfortable in what one wears, more than coveting what celebrities profess to have.
"I want to be able to explain what the process is," she said, because in real life, finding the right dress is about "what you feel comfortable in and what looks good on you."
Inaba says she is no fashion maven herself, so she has already been doing some background work in her new role as a reporter. Designs she expects to see include gowns with only one shoulder strap and hair may reflect a return to the highly stylized looks of the 1970s.
After last year's understated fashion parade amid 2008's financial market meltdown, Inaba expects a bit of glitz to return for Emmy's red carpet in 2009 because "there seems to be a little more faith in our economy."
About the new season of "Dancing," which begins September 21, Inaba said a few twists and turns have been added to put some new sizzle on the ballroom floor. There are new dances -- the country two step and the sexy lambada -- and there will be some double-elimination episodes.
"I have to say, I'm excited," she said, sounding more like a fan, than the star judge of the popular TV show.
Edited by Jill Serjeant