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Salma Hayek brings on the laughs during the National Board of Review Awards Gala, which takes place Wednesday at NYC’s Cipriani.

The actress is here on behalf of her pal Penelope Cruz, who wins best supporting actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She can’t attend because she is filming Nine.  

Penelope sent me to accept her award, which would be fine if she gave me a letter, a note, bullet points or something,” Salma says in her exotic Mexican accent. “She only gave me a dedication, which I will tell you at the end, but I think it would be appropriate to thank the caterers of the movie because the food in Spain is so fantastic. I’m sure the drinks were excellent at lunch, because they always have wine there. I also find it appropriate to say that the hair and makeup department did a fantastic job at pretending they were destroying her beauty when the character was devastated.”

She continues, “Woody Allen – when I found out they were going to be working together, I knew there was a match made in heaven because he is the only person that I know who is almost as hypochondriac as Penelope. But she is extremely grateful to Woody for creating these amazing characters. I’d like to also thank the National Board of Review for voting for her, and I’d like to congratulate you for your impeccable taste.”

Anne Hathaway
, who is here with her mom, dad, director Jonathan Demme and manager, will collect best actress for Rachel Getting Married this evening.

“I kind of expect them to say ‘all right, here’s the man behind the curtain … it’s not really real,’” Anne says.

She continues, “I have lots of confidence, but this is so far beyond the realm of normal confidence. This is like ‘kick me in my head with a sledgehammer,’ and if I wake up, then it’s real.”

The single star shrieks when she sees Slumdog Millionaire star – and winner of breakthrough performance by an actor — Dev Patel, who was just telling me how much he’d love to meet her but he’s afraid he’d be too starstruck.

Anne: “That’s my favorite performance of the season. It is so beautiful, just gorgeous. The acting was brilliant, and it was one of the most heartfelt movies I’ve ever seen. It was a glorious time at the movies.”

Dev: “That means so much to me, you don’t understand. Thank you Mrs. Hathaway.”

Anne: “Oh no, it’s Miss, Miss, Miss.”

Dev: “Oh God, I’m offending her now.”

Anne: “No, you’re not offending me, I’m just letting you know that it’s Miss.”

When Anne heads inside, I ask Dev if he’d ask Anne out on a date because she seems interested. “She’s a bit out of my league,” he tells me. “She’s beautiful. I can’t believe it. I was just talking about it. I can’t believe she came up to me and said those lovely things.”

Heather Graham slides in as Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber troll through. Ooh! Later in the evening, I catch up with them about their new baby, shedding the baby weight and their romance.

Oops, Meryl Streep misplaces an item, but finds it. (Whew!)

Is Amy Adams – who wins best ensemble cast for Doubt — hoping for Oscar gold come February?

“I don’t think about it,” she says. “I take it one day at a time. The reward of doing a film like this is the award, you know? This is the icing, and I’m just grateful to be here tonight. I try to take it one day at a time when it comes to this kind of stuff.”

Here is Clint Eastwood, who wins best actor for Gran Torino. Is he really going to retire? “I keep talking about it all the time,” he says. “But my wife doesn’t want me to hang around the house too much.”

The dinner bell rings. It’s time for steak, green beans and peppers, topped off with a dessert of tiramisu and strawberries. Mmm!

During the ceremony, volatile Josh Brolin gets annoyed during his acceptance speech after host Whoopi Goldberg pronounces his name as Josh “Brollin.” He wins best supporting actor for Milk.

The View
host apologizes. “I’m wearing Invisalign and it keeps slipping,” Whoopi says. “Josh Brolin, Josh Brolin, Josh Brolin.”

Whoops!

As for the gift bag? It includes Bvlgari’s Jasmin Noir perfume.

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