BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Some people really know how to throw a party.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The lights flash as the producer's voice comes over the loudspeaker: "One minute to live, please take your seats."
They seem intent on keeping things moving tonight. The first award winner, Christian Bale, was trying to give a shout-out to Robert De Niro at the end of his acceptance speech when the orchestra played him off the stage.
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.
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?"
"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.
AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is on Twitter: Follow her at www.twitter.com/APSandy.