<EM>Ugly Betty</EM>'s America Ferrera and Salma Hayek Ugly Betty's America Ferrera and Salma Hayek

It's often said that the Golden Globes is the most fun and relaxed of all award shows, but does that prove especially true backstage, where reporters from around the world question the newly crowned winners? Indeed, unlike the red carpet, the press room is where inquiries can go beyond, "How excited are you?" But how far can the journos go? Read on to find out.

7:50 pm/ET: I have just left the red carpet, and I can't believe they are letting me meander so freely around the hotel. I see Steve Carell and his wife Nancy Walls; Naomi Watts fixing her hair; Michelle Trachtenberg coming in through the back door. It looks like the party is ready to begin.

8:14 pm: A cool, composed Jennifer Hudson, who has just won for best supporting actress, is asked what she thinks of Jake Gyllenhaal's portrayal of her Dreamgirls showstopper — complete with wig and glittery gown — on this weekend's Saturday Night Live. "I think he did a great job," she answers. Does she think she'd be here if she hadn't fared as well on American Idol? "It might have taken a little longer," she says. She then winks, "Like my award, Simon?" Hah. Take that, Scowl Cowell.

8:20 pm: Jeremy Irons (Best Supporting Actor, TV Movie/Miniseries) is asked why Brits play such good bad boys. Logically he responds, "Being a scoundrel is in our nature... because we live on an island." Though Irons' overall response to the award seems subdued, at least he's funny: He opines that Helen Mirren is a dead ringer for Elizabeth I, especially early in the morning, when she's grumpy.

8:29 pm: Kyra Sedgwick can't fathom her victory. Globe in hand, she remarks, "I am totally shocked." Why, we wonder? "Because there's Edie Falco!" A reporter opts to tread on dangerous (if not gossipy) territory, saying, "Reese [Witherspoon] and Ryan [Phillippe] split up because he couldn't handle her career. What's your [and husband Kevin Bacon's] secret?" Kyra has no secret, she just got lucky. Lucky indeed.

8:43 pm: Hugh Laurie wins for the second time in a row for his portrayal of the surly Dr. House. Has he himself ever proffered any prognoses? "I'd give medical advice when I was 12 or 13, because I sounded like my dad, who was a doctor," he shares. Then, relating his red-carpet experience of the night, Laurie says he floated in the wake of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, "like an old plastic bag." When I ask if an actor can prepare better for a second-award win, he says, "It's like a parachute jump. You can't be blasé about your second [time] and light up a cigarette on the way down. You can't prepare."

9:00 pm: The one and only Meryl Streep arrives after winning the award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy. A foreign-press reporter asks about the political implications of a movie about Afghanistan that she is doing right now. (What happened to the good ol' "Are you excited?") That is followed by the inquiry, "How did your husband feel about you in the role of [The Devil Wears Prada's] Miranda Priestly?" Apparently, it worked out great for their marriage, as Meryl got all the nasty stuff out of her system at work! At last, the true hot topic in Streep's storied career arises: her just-announced starring role in a big-screen adaptation of Broadway's Mamma Mia! "Have you learned ABBA songs yet?" she is asked. Even if so, you're not gonna hear them now, Streep says. Me, I just love the fact that Meryl is hitting the party circuit with her 15-year-old daughter. Way to go, Mom!

9:10 pm: Eddie Murphy, perhaps the happiest-looking comer thus far, is met with a rather bizarre Question No. 1: "Do you enjoy the fact that women have a shorter career span than men in Hollywood?" Looking (understandably) puzzled, the Dreamgirls star responds, "Umm, do I enjoy it? It is what it is.... " Someone wonders how Murphy felt about the conventional-wisdom shift from, "Eddie nominated for an award?" to, "Eddie's nominated —and he will win!" His quick-witted response: "They're joking about me on nighttime TV? Am I that uncool?" Hardly. Right now, we all love Eddie.

9:21 pm: Emily Blunt arrives sans her new Globe — she left it on a table in the other room — but has two others she is proud of: The Herve Leger dress she chose for the night makes her boobs look good. (Hey, she said it, not me.) Hmm, on the left side of the room is a blue curtain separating us from what clearly is a party that I am missing. Once Emily leaves, I'll investigate. Seriously, I will.

9:26 pm: But before I can, Bill Nighy arrives and shares how any reference he would make to intercourse with the opposite sex — while filming Gideon's Daughter — made Emily Blunt mortally embarrassed. I think I'd be a little disturbed, too, if Bill Nighy talked sex with me. He also confirms that he is often confused with Bill Nye the Science Guy, and as such has disappointed several kids in his lifetime.

9:30 pm: Helen Mirren wins for The Queen, and everyone in the room is excited. How is it that she plays royalty so well? Mirren says that she has no idea, because she is an Essex girl. "You know how you can tell if an Essex girl has an orgasm? She drops her fries." Helen Mirren is really funny. "Will you drop your fries if you get a big O?" asks a reporter. Loving the double entendre, she coyly answers, "I might drop my fries then."

9:37 pm: Alec Baldwin's fantasy gig is to re-create Michael Landon's role on Little House on the Prairie. Who knew?

10:00 pm: Clint Eastwood is here to talk about Letters from Iwo Jima's win for best foreign-language film. Meanwhile, on the nearby monitor, America Ferrera has apparently just won an award, and I can see her crying on the screen. Everyone who heard her acceptance speech is crying. I'm crying, too — even though I didn't hear a word she said. Clint must think I'm such a sap. Back at the microphone, Eastwood quips, "I feel like Paris Hilton," as he poses with his Globe.

10:07 pm: I try to sneak behind that aforementioned blue curtain, and I see Geena Davis. Why that scares me, I don't know. I venture out in another direction and find the food I have been looking for, but as soon as I've filled a plate, a man tells me I can't return to the press area with my plate. But America Ferrera just won! I have to go back.

10:12 pm: America Ferrera walks in with the biggest smile on her face. "Ugly is the new accessory," she claims happily. "When I jump into this character I feel very comfortable. I can throw myself into the character, I don't have to worry about how I look or if I've lost a pound or gained a pound.... What was the question? I just love being her." When someone tells Ferrera her acceptance speech was eloquent, she recalls the recent moment as being "a very out-of-body experience, and I don't remember what I said. Now I'm welling up again." When she says that she is inspired by the people she sees in the ballroom, I genuinely believe her. She then tells a reporter, in Spanish, that she is proud to represent the Latino community. She's muy, muy excited. I want to give her a hug.

Salma Hayek and the entire cast of Betty pile on stage. America says that she loves her cast. More tears. On the monitor, I see Evangeline Lilly making a point to Dominic Monaghan, waving her hands like a crashing helicopter. I'd love to hear the story she's telling.

10:26 pm: Warren Beatty enters just as Sacha Baron Cohen is seen winning. All questions are now about what Warren Beatty thinks of Borat. "It's a very witty movie with a lot of anger, which is very well done," he offers. One reporter wants Beatty to comment on why men are applauded for being good lovers while women are called sluts. Beatty says that plenty of men have been called slutty. No clarification is needed.

11:01 pm: Grey's Anatomy has won for best TV drama, and the entire happy cast gets up on stage. The reason I know they're happy is because five minutes ago they were hiding behind the mysterious blue curtain, jumping and screeching for joy. So, of course, someone in the press room brings up the rift, asking, "Have T.R. [Knight] and Isaiah [Washington] moved on?" "I did not call T.R. a f----t. Never happened," insists Washington. "Things were created in a very odd way by the press that were not necessarily true." Can't we leave this all behind? For one night? Seriously? Seriously. It's been an exciting night for all, and it's time to move to the after-parties. Apparently, that is where the fun really begins — especially if you've just scored a little golden trophy.

For much, much more coverage of this year's Golden Globes, go here.