Oh What A Night!

updated 02/08/1988 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/08/1988 01:00AM

It was the kind of awards evening that defines Hollyweird. Into the men's room at the black-tie ceremony rushed a frantic assistant looking for a missing presenter. "Is Kevin Bacon in here?" he shouted to the men, among them Nick Nolte, standing patiently in line. Meanwhile onstage, Sammy Davis Jr. and David Byrne shared the podium. As Davis handed the Talking Head a Best Original Score award for The Last Emperor, a bejeweled agent at one table asked, "Is that Tommy Tune?" Wait, it gets weirder: That broker of bombast, Sir Richard (Cry Freedom) Attenborough, bestowed the Cecil B. De Mille award to that master of the monosyllable, Clint Eastwood. No wonder that at this annual event even the contenders are sometimes confused. When Moonstruck's Nicolas Cage was asked for which category he had been nominated, he replied, "I don't know." (It was Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, fella, and you lost to Robin Williams of Good Morning, Vietnam.)

As an awards ceremony, the Golden Globes ranks somewhere between the Publishers Clearing House Drawing and the Miss Firecracker Contest. But as a party, it commands a celebrity turnout that Oscar might envy. After all, this is one of the few Hollywood shows at which the bar is always open. At the 45th annual edition, curious couplings attracted more attention than the hodgepodge of film and TV awards. Marlee (Children of a Lesser God) Matlin brought along the new blond in her life, MacGyver's Richard Dean Anderson, whom she met in an elevator a month ago, and L.A. Law's Corbin Bernsen escorted new gal pal Amanda (Max Headroom) Pays. Newly weds Tom Selleck and Jillie Mack wore matching tuxes, but Michael (Wall Street) Douglas avoided any fatal distractions. He brought his mother.

As an indicator of the Best Picture Academy Award (which the Golden Globes has accurately predicted for the past four years), the evening was bad news for Broadcast News. The front-runner failed to win a single prize. Instead, The Last Emperor staged a surprise sweep of four statuettes, including Best Picture. But then, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which comprises 81 journalists from nearly 50 countries who cover the industry for overseas publications, is notorious for its curious choices—and for allegedly favoring foreigners. When Rutger (Escape From Sobibor) Hauer beat a slate of Americans for Best Supporting TV actor this year, an agent snipped, "I knew the German would get it." Never mind that Hauer is Dutch.

In the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, the partygoers bestowed ad hoc awards. Best Outfit went to Tracey Ullman. "It's made of plaster of paris," she said of her provocative petticoat dress. "I've only managed to sit down in it once." Best Elizabeth Taylor Entrance: Cher. The last to arrive, she slipped into her seat exactly two seconds before show time. When she won for Moonstruck in an upset over Holly Hunter for Broadcast News, Cher thanked her longtime supporters. "My fans are like Jet fans," she said. "They've taken so much crap being my fans. You guys hung in there, and here we are." Best Acceptance: Dabney Coleman, who said, of his trophy for The Slap Maxwell Story, "Actually I thought it was a little bigger than this. I have to thank some people here—and that's not easy." Best Exit: Night Court's John Larroquette. After he lost early in the evening, he announced to his table, "Okay, time to go. I can still get home for Saturday Night Videos." With the Golden Globes, losing sometimes has the sweet smell of success. Observes thirtysomething co-star Polly Draper, whose show was beaten by L.A. Law for Best Television Series Drama: "I just have to remember that Pia Zadora once won one of these things."

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