At the 64th annual Golden Globes. First came the surprise arrival of Jack Nicholson, who’d been ill. Then the awards show began and, right now….

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…there’s the start of a Dreamgirls near-sweep of the Picture, Musical or Comedy category with both Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy winning Supporting Actor/Actress. And the pic’s producer David Geffen — who took the show from Broadway 25 years later to Hollywood– is getting more thanks than God or mothers.

Already there’s been a glitch: musician Prince missed his moment to accept for Best Song (“Song Of The Heart” from Happy Feet), so Justin Timberlake did it on his behalf. (Later, Hugh Grant explained that Prince had been stuck in traffic, and then asked him to take a bow – no doubt, because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and NBC didn’t want to miss having that celeb face time.)

meryl2.jpgMeryl Streep of The Devil Wears Prada won her Actress, Musical or Comedy category. Best Animated Film was Cars. Peter Morgan won Movie Screenplay for Disney/Miramax’s The Queen, and reminded in his speech that “You have to believe that public protests count for something. What are we going to have to do it when it’s really important.” Jamie Foxx introduced the Dreamgirls clip by noting the the movie was “only in 800 theaters… you do the math.” Indeed, it was a controversial decision by DreamWorks / Paramount to keep the musical in only 852 theaters for week after week after week until January 12th — even though audiences were cheering and clapping the film during every screening. Both Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg went up to accept best Foreign Language Film for Letters From Iwo Jima – and Clint, too, thanked David Geffen. Why? Because Geffen is a partner in DreamWorks who produced both Letters and Clint’s other 2006 war movie, Flags Of Our Father. This is Geffen’s last hurrah: he wants out of the movie biz.

eastwoodglobe.jpgThen came Tom Hanks to introduce Warren Beatty, who receives the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award at the NBC’s awards show. “You will all agree with me when I say: What balls this man has,” Hanks gushed. Funny was when Hanks asked for a show of hands among “Ladies” in the audience regarding Warren’s irrestistable charms. “Guys?” Hanks asked afterwards. After beginning well (“It isn’t easy being humble when you’re married to Annette Bening), Beatty went on to give a rambling speech for nearly for 10 minutes. Warren semi-seriously lectured Clint for making such wonderful movies back to back to back — “and you do the score? How do you think that makes me feel?” And, to Jack, Warren said, “You just can’t resist it. You’ve got to be great.” Beatty couldn’t help injecting politics into his speech. “I asked Arnold to become a Democrat. He did what I said.” Beatty campaigned against Scharzenegger’s gubernatorial candidacy in California’s recall election and then Arnold’s controversial referendum initiatives. Schwarzenegger then did an about-face, sounding more like a Democrat than a Republican during his successful run for re-election.) Beatty also pledged to make another movie. (He hasn’t directed since 1998′s Bulworth nor starred in a film since the disastrous 2001′s Town & Country. Beatty is in a legal fight for the rights to make a sequel to his 1990 Dick Tracy.) “By the time I make another movie, you might consider making just me the most promising newcomer in Hollywood — again,” Beatty joked. later, Dustin Hoffman came on and said he’d noticed that Ishtar was included in the movie montage “for only 0.5 seconds” and announced there would be an Ishtar 2. (Though not in his lifetime since it was a humiliating flop for both stars.)

marty-steven.jpgWhen Marty Scorsese won the Director category for The Departed, he received a standing ovation. (Scorsese has won the Globe in this category before, for Gangs Of New York. But he has yet to win a Best Directing Oscar, and is refusing to campaign for it this Academy Award season.)

Barely recognizable not in character as Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen won movie Actor, in a Musical or Comedy. Then the British comedian proceeded to tell three minutes’ worth of genitalia and fart jokes; Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) had tears running down his face because he was laughing so hard at Cohen’s acceptance speech. “Thank you to every American who has not sued me so far,” Cohen ended.

Dreamgirls won best Picture, Musical or Comedy, and the camera immediately went to David Geffen seated next to Paramount chairman/CEO Brad Grey, who acquired the movie when he acquired DreamWorks. But Geffen didn’t accept the award: his long-time friend, the film’s producer Laurence “Larry” Mark did, and was cut off after just a few words. In reference to Jamie Foxx’s comment above, I always thought Paramount waited for the pic to go wide only when it could enjoy a Golden Globes bounce at the box office. So I heard for months that the studio was romancing the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

mirren2.jpgIn these last moments of the Golden Globes broadcast, the big winners are being given only 30-seconds apiece and then rushed offstage, partly because Warren Beatty spoke for so long. Hellen Mirren snagged a second Golden Globe for Actress, Drama, for her bravura performance in The Queen, as expected. Also anticipated was Forest Whitaker’s Actor, Drama, win for his portrayal of dictator Idi Amin in The Last King Of Scotland. (Both Mirren and Whitaker are expected shoo-ins for the Oscars.) Stunned that his name was called, Whitaker’s expression, and especially his stammering “Thank you’s” and moments of silence, were moving.

Arnold Schwarzenegger presented the best Picture, Drama, award. And the winner was … Babel. You could see the jaws drop in the audience, but Paramount and its indieprod division Paramount vantage campaigned long and hard for awards for this Brad Pitt / Cate Blanchett starrer directed by inaritu.jpgAlejandro González Iñárritu, a Mexican native who turned to Schwarzenegger and said, “I swear I have my papers in order, Governor, I swear.” Babel received good critical reviews but has not been a box office favorite since it opened October 27th; its cumulative gross is only $23.1 million at U.S. theaters through today. On the other hand, the HFPA award meant that mega-stars Brangelina were assured of attending the broadcast. (I’ve always heard from celebrity and studio publicists that the press organization — which doesn’t include correspondents for major newspapers like Le Monde and the Daily Mail despite its misleading moniker — tips off the celebrities in advance if they’re winners.)

In the end, the movie awards were dominated by Paramount — a studio flack even emailed me “All Paramount Grand Prix” (and to a lesser extent Fox and Disney’s Miramax). But it’s the rule rather than the exception for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to be susceptible to studio campaigning (all that attention, all that money, all those perks and freebies, showered on only 85 people who can barely call themselves legitimate journalists). Still, the HFPA wanted to spread around the awards to as many Big Names as possible to glam up the show and NBC’s ratings.

baldwinglobe.jpgIn the TV categories, wins for TV Actress/Actor in a Drama went to Kyra Sedgwick for TNT’s The Closer and Hugh Laurie for Fox’s House. There was low laughter when Laurie thanked Jeff Zucker, the NBC Universal honcho. But that’s because, even though the series airs on Fox, it’s actually produced by NBC Universal, so clearly all the audience of insiders didn’t know that. Helen Mirren won Actress/TV Miniseries or TV Movie, joined later by Jeremy Irons in the Supporting Actor in the winner’s corner, for HBO’s Elizabeth I, which also won best TV Miniseries or TV Movie. Big surprise was when Alec Baldwin won Actor, TV Musical or TV Comedy, for NBC’s 30 Rock. (Then again, there usually is a HFPA sop to NBC because it broadcasts the awards show.) He thanked the foreign press ‘for remembering your old pal in the autumn of my career here.” Adorable is the only word to describe America Ferrera’s acceptance speech for Actress, TV Musical or TV Comedy, for ABC’s Ugly Betty. She praised “this character who is trying to bring a new face to TV. I hear from young girls on a regular basis who thank me.” Expectedly, best Series, TV Musical or Comedy went to ABC’s Ugly Betty and best Series, TV Drama, to ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. The entire Grey’s cast went onstage — more star wattage for the HFPA and NBC since this is America’s favorite show — while exec producer & creator Shonda Rhimes shouted into the microphone, “I’m staring at Jack Nicholson. This is surreal!”

jack.jpgARRIVALS: Jack Nicholson showed up at the Golden Globes (he’s a 7-time Globe winner, and was nominated again tonight but did not win) despite reports that he’s been sick for months. But his pals “hope the worst is over,” I’m told, and he’s shooting the Bucket List with Morgan Freeman, so he must be all better. Best, he was photographed on the red carpet standing alongside his daughter Lorraine, Miss Golden Globes 2007. The 69-year-old Nicholson has been very tight-lipped about his illness, even to his friends. Back in mid-September, a news report had him checked into a Los Angeles-area hospital with “an infection.” Since then, he’s cancelled many personal dates and publicity events. He’s nominated by the Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, as well touted as an Oscar nominee, for his role as the gangland paterfamilias in Marty Scorsese’s The Departed. Tonight, at the Golden Globes, he has the best seat at the dinner and is next to Warren Beatty, who receives the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award at NBC’s awards show. But Tom Hanks, not best friend Jack, is slated to present the Globe to Warren.

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.