Stephen Trupp/Star Max, Inc.
Liane Bonin
January 24, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

After sitting through three tense, butt-numbing hours of Golden Globe Awards glad-handing, the stars who attended the Dreamworks sponsored after-party at Trader Vics on Sunday night were ready to let loose. ”I’m just so happy I didn’t fall down or throw up on my shoes,” gushed relieved Best Screenplay winner Alan Ball (”American Beauty”). Best Actress winner Janet McTeer (”Tumbleweeds”) was simply looking forward to tying one on. ”Apparently this is THE party,” she joked. ”I shall tell you how it is when I come out, drunk and flat on my back.”

If anyone was going to be carried out on a stretcher, the appearance of Best Supporting Actor winner Tom Cruise, not martini overload, would have been the most likely cause. When the ”Magnolia” star arrived with Globe in hand, the crowd pushed to the front of the restaurant to rub shoulders with the star, only to recede when the actor slipped back into his limo moments later. Meanwhile, nominee Kevin Spacey hobnobbed with ”The Sixth Sense”’s Haley Joel Osment, his costar in the upcoming ”Play It Forward.” Matt Damon, Winona Ryder, Julianne Moore, Keri Russell, Dylan McDermott, Wes Bentley, Liev Schreiber, Warren Beatty, and Annette Bening also busily worked the crowd.

It was all a little much for Aimee Mann, whose song ”Save Me” from the ”Magnolia” soundtrack was nominated. ”It’s the most bizarre, surreal spectacle I’ve ever encountered,” she sighed. ”But the great thing about walking down the red carpet is that there are so many stars, nobody’s interested in you.”

R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, who produced Best Comedy contender ”Being John Malkovich,” took a similarly anti-glam approach by celebrating his movie’s nonstop losing streak with companion Courtney Love. ”We lost four Golden Globes. That’s brilliant!” he gushed. ”We’re the subversive losers. I love it! I kept telling [director] Spike [Jonze], ‘It’s really dignified.”’ Still, Globes newcomer Stipe found something to love about the over-the-top awards. ”Most awards shows are kind of a snore, but this one was kind of entertaining,” he said. ”The gloss and veneer start to fade after a few hours. I love that.” Stipe was equally amused by the dreaded Joan Rivers query: ”’Who are you wearing?’ That’s like a question from ‘Silence of the Lambs Act 3,”’ he joked. ”Terrifying!”

Other losers weren’t quite as enthusiastic as Stipe, but seemed content to wait for next year. ”I was rooting for myself, but I didn’t win,” admitted nominee Mia Farrow. The very pregnant Bening hardly seemed fazed that her critically praised performance didn’t win her a Globe, noting that ”nothing’s like having a baby.” And four-time loser Julianna Margulies (”ER”) happily cheered on McTeer, advising her to place her award where she would see it when she woke up in the morning in order to squeeze a little more joy out of the thrill of victory. McTeer admitted that instead of enjoying her triumph, she was kicking herself for botching her chance to give Liam Neeson a good smooch when she won. ”I kept thinking, ‘F— me, I kissed him and missed!”’ she laughed. ”I’ll have to go home and watch the video.”

The cast of ”Spin City” (only Heather Locklear was absent from the festivities) wasn’t quite sure whether to call for a celebratory toast or cry into their beers. Michael J. Fox’s win for Best Actor was clouded by the announcement that he will be leaving the show at the end of the season. ”In light of this being my last year on the show, winning is a nice period at the end of a sentence,” Fox said. ”The Golden Globes have this insanity, but at the same time, there’s a lot of love, a lot of support, and a lot of alcohol, so it’s good for something.”

”Spin” Costar Michael Boatman admitted that the celebration was bittersweet. ”It’s sad in the sense that we all love Michael, and it was the right decision, and no one would ever fault him for it, but we all love coming to work every day,” he said. As to the spin-off rumors, costar Alan Ruck said nothing was definite, but there was hope that some part of ”Spin” will live on. ”I don’t know how fluent Michael Boatman is in Chinese, but he said that the Chinese character for crisis is the same character they use for opportunity,” Ruck said. ”That’s what we’ve been talking about lately.”

What most of the party was talking about was how ”American Beauty”’s win may mark a new era in edgy cinema. ”I think this movie has really shown Hollywood that cookie-cutter, formulaic movies are not necessarily the wave of the future,” said producer Bruce Cohen, who won Best Picture for ”American Beauty.” ”This movie has exceeded everybody’s, including the studio’s, expectations.” It also blindsided director Norman Jewison, whose ”Hurricane” took home just one award (Best Actor). ”This year was a lot stronger than I thought it would be,” Jewison said. ”I mean, at the end of September there wasn’t anything to be proud of for the entire year. Then ‘American Beauty’ came along, and all of a sudden it was bing, bing, bing. We were the last ones out. We’re coming from behind, but the hurricane is blowing, so you never know.”

And if ”American Beauty” doesn’t change cinema, it at least changed the love life of Seth Green. He and girlfriend Chad Morgan met while auditioning for the movie. ”Neither of us got the movie, but we found each other,” said Green. ”I got the better end of the deal.” Golden Globes notwithstanding, sometimes even when you lose, you win.

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