The Golden Globes returned on Tuesday night ready to prove that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had reformed. The live NBC broadcast—where you could catch host Jerrod Carmichael and all the winners—largely felt like a return to normal for the show, which was known for bringing the party ahead of the more serious Oscars in the spring. Vanity Fair got a first-hand look at the mood in the ballroom, backstage, and at the after parties.  

David Canfield: Well, if there’s one thing I learned from being in the Beverly Hilton ballroom for the Golden Globes on Tuesday night, it’s that a bunch of movie stars love getting dressed up, drinking champagne, and cheering each other (and themselves) winning gold trophies—shocker! This really was the vibe inside the ceremony: a mostly ebullient return to old-school awards-season glamour, as our colleague Richard Lawson put it in his review. Natalie, what was it like in the press room, where you held down the fort for us?

Natalie Jarvey: Your experience was decidedly more glamorous, David! Press covering the show who didn’t have tickets for the main ballroom, as well as attendees at the viewing party held upstairs at the Beverly Hilton, had to park off-site and shuttle to the venue. Thanks to the rain, we were treated to a muddy journey through back roads that I didn’t even know existed. The setup inside the press room was itself pretty nice. We had a buffet—including roasted veggies, lemon chicken, and vegan lasagna—and even a bar where a waiter was serving water and beer. Everyone was there to work, not to party, but things got more interesting once winners started making their way backstage. 

What was the mood like in the ballroom as the show got underway?

Canfield: Carmichael’s winding and rather scathing opening monologue landed fairly well. It felt like there was an understanding no comic could take this role on without not only addressing the elephant in the room, but also really confronting it. And then the producers wisely opened with best supporting actor, for which heavy front-runner Ke Huy Quan won and gave a rousingly earnest speech. This moment indicated, rather immediately, that these awards could carry some weight again and, in turn, that the show could proceed like the boozy and starry bash it’d had always been known for.

So that was the show side of things. Then there was the actual dinner, or lack thereof. Save two chocolates, all food was taken off the tables half an hour before showtime, as in, before most of these nominees even arrived. I was seated on an upper tier—one day press will get prime seats, Natalie, one day—which meant I had pretty close access to the bar, where a charcuterie board and chicken club sandwiches were stuffed into the same corner where I saw Glen Powell juggling three cocktails while snapping selfies with almost every person in his path. But for actual nominees close to the stage, the bar was much more of a hike. And if you didn’t get in and out in time, you’d be stuck standing next to me for a whole segment rather than eating at your seat. (I hope I was good silent company, Billy Porter.) There were giant champagne bottles on the tables and comparably little water. So Mike White wasn’t exactly wrong to imply the drunkening effect here. I knew of several publicists hearing from clients about being hungry mid-show.

Natalie, I’ve got to know if the gripe made it to the press room. What did you hear about famished stars? 

Jarvey: We didn’t hear much about the food—or lack thereof—at the beginning of the show, but by the time the last group of winners made their way backstage, you could tell they were hangry. After Abbott Elementary won the Golden Globe for Best Musical/Comedy Series, the cast filtered into the press room. The thing on their mind was where they could get a bite to eat. “Have they been feeding you?” Lisa Ann Walter asked the journalists who were still gathered in the room after the Globes broadcast had ended. “We got nothing. Anyone got a finger sandwich in their bag?” When one of the journalists mentioned the hot vegan lasagna waiting in the other room, Walter replied, “I don’t eat other people’s lasagna.” 

Not all the winners chose to come back to the press room. The night started strong, with Ke Huy Quan and Angela Bassett both making appearances. Bassett told us she hasn’t gone back to watch the acceptance speech she gave when she won her first Golden Globe, all the way back in 1994. But she did say of her younger self, “I think she was on a good path.” Quan, meanwhile, was enthusiastic about his win, though he insisted he’s not being inundated with scripts following his star turn in Everything Everywhere All at Once. “I’m not Tom Cruise, I’m not Brad Pitt, I’m not Leonardo DiCaprio,” he said. “I hope there’s a lot more filmmakers and casting directors thinking of me. I’m really excited and optimistic moving forward.” 

David Canfield, Natalie Jarvey

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