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updated 1/16/2011 8:43:39 PM ET 2011-01-17T01:43:39

Some people really know how to throw a party.

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Each year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association brings the top stars from TV and film to a booze-soaked, black-tie dinner, invites them to catch up with colleagues as they collect accolades for their work, then puts the whole thing on TV as the Golden Globe Awards.

Sunday's 68th annual ceremony is unfolding at the Beverly Hilton Hotel's International Ballroom, where hundreds of stars, from Jane Fonda to Justin Bieber, are taking part in one of Hollywood's hottest parties of the year. Here's a running view from inside the festivities, where some of the most colorful moments happen off-camera.

Early-bird special
Guests at the Golden Globes eat early. A dinner of grilled beef tenderloin and sauteed sea bass was served just after 4 p.m., with barely a fraction of the ballroom filled. Among the early diners: Nominees Edie Falco and Alec Baldwin, Jenna Ushkowitz of "Glee," "Precious" director Lee Daniels and "Precious" star Gabourey Sidibe.

Don't punish the staff
A voice over the loudspeaker bellows at 4:26pm, a little more than a half hour before the show is to start: Please take your seats." Meanwhile, a waiter watches over a table, waiting to clear away plates. "If the tables aren't completely clear at five minutes to 5, we'll be punished," he says in Spanish.

Slideshow: Golden Globes red carpet (on this page)

Hockey wife
Ladies room chatter, Golden Globes style: A partygoer greets Carrie Underwood and asks the newlywed how married life is with Mike Fisher of the National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators. "It's all good. No complaints," the country music star replies.

Follow Scoop columnist Courtney Hazlett's real-time updates on Twitter

Take your places
With 10 minutes to showtime, Mark Wahlberg straightens his bow tie. Natalie Portman and her fiance hold hands as they look for their seats. A publicist leads Robert Downey Jr. and his wife to their table.

Lights, camera...
The lights flash as the producer's voice comes over the loudspeaker: "One minute to live, please take your seats."

Zip it, Christian
They seem intent on keeping things moving tonight. The first award winner, Christian Bale, was trying to give a shout-out to Robert DeNiro at the end of his acceptance speech when the orchestra played him off the stage.

Live video: Backstage at the awards

Bribe time
Host Ricky Gervais wasted no time making light of accusations that Golden Globes are bought and paid for "I'd like to quash this ridiculous rumor going around that the only reason 'The Tourist' was nominated was so the Hollywood foreign press could hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie," Gervais said during his opening monologue. "That is rubbish. That is not the only reason. They also accepted bribes." Depp, sitting in the audience, cracked a slight smile.

Vampire vice
Even handsome vampires need a smoke break at the Golden Globes. Midway through the show "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson stepped onto a veranda just outside the ballroom for his. Mark Ruffalo, after a friendly chat with Michelle Williams, was heard asking, "Is there a bar around here?"

Sea of tulle
"I'm trapped in a sea of tulle," Scarlett Johannson quipped as she attempted to navigate her way through the dining room during a commercial break. Meanwhile, Michelle Williams and Bijou Phillips chatted with Jack McBrayer as Brad Pitt gently rubbed Angelina Jolie's back as the couple sat at a table near the stage.

Dynamic duos
Power couple mash-ups: During a commercial break Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie chat with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas. Meanwhile, Emma Stone kibitzes with Julie Andrews as "Glee" nominee Matthew Morrison leads co-star Dianna Agron to the pair's seats.

Mwah! Mwah!
From the Golden Globes mutual admiration society: "You deserve it." "No, you," nominees Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter say, exchanging air kisses, as they cross paths.

More 'Tron'
Back to the smoking patio, where "Tron: Legacy" star Garrett Hedlund said he knows what film he'd like to be involved in next: a sequel to "Tron: Legacy." As for this year's Golden Globe nominees, he was partial to "The Fighter" and "The Social Network."

Parting gifts
After the Golden Globe awards, even the losers go home winners. On the way out everyone is told to grab a leather satchel. Each is stuffed with cosmetics, candy and a book of style secrets.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: 68th Golden Globe Awards

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  1. Ricky Gervais

    Back for a second year, Ricky Gervais set the tone early for the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards, recognized as much for its revelry as its prizes. "It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking," Gervais began his monologue, sipping from a glass of what looked like beer. "Or, as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast." (Handout / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Christian Bale

    The actor won the award for best supporting actor in a movie for "The Fighter." (Handout / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Katey Segal

    The star accepts the best actress in a TV drama for "'Sons of Anarchy" onstage during the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 16. (Handout / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Chris Colfer

    The "Glee" star holds up his award for best supporting actor in a TV series for his work on the Fox musical. (Paul Buck / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Steve Buscemi

    The veteran character actor poses with his award for best actor in a TV drama for "Boardwalk Empire" in the press room at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Annette Benning

    The actress accepts her award for best actress in a movie comedy for "The Kids Are All Right." (Ho / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Al Pacino

    The legendary actor holds his award for best actor in a miniseries or TV movie for his work as Dr. Jack Kevorkian for 'You Don't Know Jack' backstage at the Golden Globe Awards. (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Jane Lynch

    The "Glee" star accepts the award for best supporting actress in a TV series. (Handout / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Robert De Niro and Matt Damon

    Presenter Matt Damon, left, strikes a pose with Cecil B. DeMille Award winner Robert De Niro in the press room at the Golden Globe Awards. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Jim Parsons

    The star of "The Big Bang Theory" shows off this award for best actor in a TV comedy in the press room. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Paul Giamatti

    The actor poses with his award for best actor in a movie comedy for his role in 'Barney's Version' in the press room at the Golden Globes. (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. 'Glee'-ful night

    The cast and crew of "Glee" pose with the award for best comedy or musical TV series at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan. 16. (Mark J. Terrill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Melissa Leo

    The actress poses with her award for best supporting actress in movie for her role in "The Fighter." (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Natalie Portman

    The "Black Swan" star accepts the award for best actress in movie drama at the 68th annual Golden Globes Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Ho / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Colin Firth

    The British star poses with his award for best actor in a movie drama for "The King's Speech." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Michael Douglas

    The star, who is recovering from treatment for cancer, presents the award for best movie drama at the Golden Globes. (Handout / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. 'Social' setting

    The producers of the "The Social Network," from left, Kevin Spacey, Cean Chaffin, Dana Brunetti, Scott Rudin, and Michael De Luca pose with their award for Best Motion Picture -- Drama on Sunday night. (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Show
    Handout / Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (17) 68th Golden Globe Awards
  2. Image: Actress Natalie Portman from the film 'Black Swan' arrives at the 68th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills
    Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
    Slideshow (52) Golden Globes red carpet

Video: Golden Globes: Where is Angelina sitting?

  1. Closed captioning of: Golden Globes: Where is Angelina sitting?

    >>> we're just hours away from one of the biggest nights in hollywood, and tonight the golden globes will be handed out. we have a sneak peek this morning. let's go live to california once again to courteney haselett. another good morning to you from us. set the scene for us, because we're just a couple of hours or so away from the big show . what's going on over there?

    >> right now all the people who are going to the golden globes , those nominees, the presenters are basically waking up to maybe one of the most picture-perfect mornings in southern california they've seen in a long time. it's gorgeous weather. 80 degrees and sunny. the red carpet will be hot and very glamorous. this is the time of day where a lot of people are starting to get their hair done for tonight's ceremony at 5:00. this doesn't happen quickly. it's a long process. all the people involved are deep in it at this point.

    >> absolutely. at scoop.todayshow.com, you posted controversy about angelina jolie and the golden globes . what's going on?

    >> that's right. go i got a sneak peek where some celebrities were seated at the golden globes . angelina is sitting up front. here's the thing. the hollywood foreign press behind the golden globes , they're not known for thinking rationally. i've spoken to many nominees that stay if "the tourist" wins anything give up basically. that's the general attitude. this is a strange pick. johnny depp is nominated for his roll in it and it's nominated for best picture . if they win, they think it will be a miscarriage of justice.

    >> the cameras will go to her table whether or not. we did move res los angeles year. let's do tv here. the nominees for best tv drama series. what do you think here?

    >> there's a lot of talk that it could be "boardwalk empire" because it's a great big grand spak tackle. however, my pick i will go with what should win here, and that's "mad men." the writing was so fantastic and solid. it's a shame not to reward the series for that.

    >> best tv comedy or musical series. 30 rock , the big bang theory , the big c , glee, modern family, and nurse jackie. where are you leaning on this?

    >> this is a tough, tough category. i think anybody who has been watching me on msnbc or "today" or go to my blog knows i can't say enough good things about "modern family." this is one of the most consistent shows i've seen. from its pilot to its second season, there's never a misstep on the show. it's so unique because it's something everybody can watch. nobody has to employ the earmuffs rule, it is what television is meant to be. that's making people laugh and bringing people together. so i think "modern family" should take it way.

    >> we'll see if you're right. you usually are. thank you so much. have a good time tonight.

Discuss: A Golden night

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