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No rain for stars’ red carpet parade

From pooches to politics, there was plenty to talk about backstage at the Globes

The Globes’ red carpet had a tropical feel to it this year. The plastic tenting erected to keep out the rain that didn’t come until much later wound up holding in all of the hot air, hair spray and publicists’ exasperation expended during the two-hour crush of stars and showbizzers funneling into the Beverly Hilton.

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The Globes is a favorite stop on the awards season express because it is low-key, and fortified with cocktails and Champagne at the tables. But that doesn’t mean there’s no drama. One of the big moments on the carpet came early on when “Modern Family” trouper Sarah Hyland had a “zipper emergency” on her form-fitting long lacy dress. A quartet of Emergency Handler Technicians hustled her off to the side and in short order, a needle and thread were correcting the problem, which cost Hyland at least 15 minutes of prime strolling time. While she was idled, journos on the other side of the carpet kept calling her over. She made the most of the situation with good humor, replying, “I can’t! Do you want me to be naked?” Moments later, a cameraman from “Entertainment Tonight” had crossed the carpet and come over to Hyland’s side.

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Call him the 40 (plus)-year-old virgin. For as long as he’s been in the biz, Judd Apatow had never been to the Globes, even when he was nommed years ago for HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show.” (He would have gone in 2008 when “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” was nommed, but the writers strike got in the way.) And as much as he loved “Bridesmaids,” he admitted to being “shocked” (pleasantly so) by the traction helmer Paul Feig’s raunchy comedy has had in the kudos derby. “They deserve it,” he said of the “Bridesmaids” wedding party.

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Nobody rolled over for the red carpet media horde this year quite like Uggie, the adorable Jack Russell terrier featured in “The Artist.” The pooch drew big crowds as he trotted down the carpet, and squeals from admirers including Glenn Close. His handler noted that he’d also had a role in “Water for Elephants.” “He’s a busy guy,” she said. Later, Harvey Weinstein was asked if the dog’s charm offensive would be a good omen for the pic’s chances. “I hope so,” Weinstein said, smiling.

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It’s still early in the awards marathon, but people are already feeling the burn. Producer Graham King greeted George Clooney on the carpet with a hearty handshake and quipped: “I haven’t seen you for a day or so.” King’s empire was well-repped at the Globes with “Hugo,” “Rango” and “In the Land of Blood of Honey.” Of his expansion of GK Films and the GK-TV banner, King said: “We are making more movies, making TV shows. Maybe we’ll be making a few errors, but we are becoming a real and growing business.”

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Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng shook a lot of hands as they made their way down the carpet. He was happy to be in friendly territory after stirring up a hornet’s nest with his newly launched Twitter account and his recent critical comments about Google abetting piracy. He admitted the response has been “overwhelmingly hostile” from the online world. Rupe’s favorite way to tweet? “IPad,” he said, scoffing at the notion that anyone other than him would write his tweets.

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Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes wouldn’t single out Google for criticism, but he was happy to take a moment, amid the glitz and gossiping, to talk about the toll that online piracy takes on showbiz. He’s frustrated at the way many in the tech lobby have been able to frame the terms of the debate over implementing curbs on illegal online distribution of Hollywood’s wares. “When you have major companies masquerading behind free speech claims to protect illegitimate businesses — well that’s bullshit.” Can we quote you on that, Jeff? “Yes.”

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Tom Rothman was happy to be at his umpteenth Globes ceremony (with daughter Nora Rothman on his arm) in support of a type of movie that he called “precious” these days, Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants.” “Character-driven filmmaking is hard,” he said. “This is just an exceptional work — intelligent, emotional storytelling. It’s very rare nowadays.”

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Speaking of “Descendants,” Clooney was ever popular and gracious in working the press line with galpal Stacy Keibler. He’s in the happy career place where he’s working as much as a director as he is a thesp. Which does he prefer? “Obviously in infinitely more fun to direct because you’re doing more creative things.” But that doesn’t mean he’s going to pass up chances to work with other helmers he admires. “There’s no downside to it when you’re working with a guy as talented as Alexander Payne. It’s all good news.” Next up for helmer Clooney is “The Monuments Men,”a drama for Sony about art theft during WWII.

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Tom Rothman wasn’t the only exec with kind words for Clooney. Sony Corp. boss Howard Stringer made a point of praising Clooney for his strong friendship with Brad Pitt, which he said far transcends the fact that they went head to head for Globes glory this year. “These are two people who would just as soon have the other one win,” Stringer said. “They’re very gentlemanly about it. I suspect it’ll be that way at the Oscars too.”

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“My Week With Marilyn” helmer Simon Curtis was pulling double duty supporting his star, Michelle Williams, and his wife, “Downton Abbey” star Elizabeth McGovern. Not a bad showing for his feature directorial debut with a film that he “pushed at great length into production” after many years as a TV helmer.

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It was a big year for deep, rich solid colors on the carpet, particularly purples, greens and blues. Octavia Spencer was resplendent in pale violet. Laura Dern was all sparkles in green. Sofia Vergara looked like a mermaid in a skin-tight deep blue number. Among the most distinctive frocks was worn by Universal TV’s Bela Bajaria, in a chartreuse beaded gown, accented by several inches of glittery bracelets, from one of her favorite Indian designers. “I love these dresses because I know that no one else is going to have anything like it,” she said.

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“Game of Thrones” exec producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were mobbed by fans looking for tidbits about the HBO fantasy drama’s upcoming season. The duo didn’t give up much but Weiss did note that the romance factor will be higher in the second season. “We’ve been calling it ‘Dame of Thrones,'” Weiss quipped, and quickly added, “There’ll be just as much killing.”

* * *

The “Homeland” crew was in good spirits (appropriately so, it turned out) as they made their way into the Hilton. Mandy Patinkin said he’s never received such a response to anything he’s ever done in his years onstage and onscreen. “People I don’t even know are calling me about it,” he said. The actors were as eager as the show’s viewers to find out how the storyline unfolded. “We usually get the scripts emailed and wherever you were, even if you were driving, you’d pull over to the side of the road to read it,” said David Harewood. “None of us knew how it would end.”

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Backstage, the mood was typically light and frothy (“Who are you wearing?” “What makes you feel beautiful?”) but some winners brought up weighty topics. “Homeland” winner Claire Danes spoke about becoming aware of how she took national security for granted before learning about the work of intelligence officers. Laura Dern gave a shoutout to the importance of whistleblowers. George Clooney talked about gay rights as being “the last leg of the civil rights movement” and those who oppose them being “on the wrong side of history.” “Modern Family’s” Jesse Tyler Ferguson also said he and Eric Stonestreet get endless gratitude for portraying loving gay parents. “They say, ‘Thank you for be
ing on TV.'” Ferguson said. And as he spoke, Sofia Vergara snuck up behind to give him bunny ears.

* * *

Meryl Streep used her captive audience backstage to give a plug to her work on behalf of the effort to establish a national museum devoted to the history of women on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. “It’s something we should have,” she said, with conviction, spelling out the website “N-W-H-M-dot-org.” She said her involvement in the National Women’s History Musuem had led her to learn of two historical women that she’d be interested in playing: Deborah Sampson, who dressed as a man during the Revolutionary War to help fight the British, and Elizabeth Freeman, a slave who sued for her freedom in 1781.

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George Clooney closed out the backstage gabfest by critiquing (at the urging of the room) Ricky Gervais’ performance. “I thought he did a great job,” Clooney said. “Tonight is a much tougher gig for him because there was so much build-up. I think he handled it like a proper, really good host. I think people were expecting a lot of trash talk. He just did what he does. He makes me laugh.”

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As for the other highlights of the night, Clooney graciously left out the part about his winning best actor for “Descendants.” He cited the standing ovation for Sidney Poitier and “Jane Fonda in that dress. My god.”

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