By Adam B. Vary
September 21, 2009 at 04:36 AM EDT

Backstage this year at the Emmy awards, the pressroom was privy to American Idol predictions, shout outs to former Beatles, and some seriously stylish lounging by the stars of Mad Men. Here are the highlights.

Live! From the press room!

Two and a Half Men star Jon Cryer’s time backstage after his win for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy was dominated by his bit with Emmy host and category rival Neil Patrick Harris, which required a special lighting rig and some consultation with show production assistants. As he waited for the set-up to finish, Cryer explained to the press, in a high, Jewish-lady voice, “Tawk amongst yourselves.” When the bit was over, Cryer shrugged and said, “OK, that was the bit, I hope it was worth waiting for, folks.” When the actual Q&A commenced, Cryer joked that when he said to co-star Charlie Sheen, “This [Emmy] is for you,” he meant he would give a copy of his Emmy to Sheen, not the actual thing. As for how he finally won after being nominated four times? “They gave up: ‘He’s not going to leave us alone until he gets one of those things!'”

Paging McCartney and Streep to 30 Rockefeller Plaza

Most of Outstanding Actor in a Comedy winner Alec Baldwin’s time backstage was spent talking politics — no, he has no plans to run right now; yes, he’s still very connected to New York politics; no, he does not think President Obama is over-exposed — but he did manage to sneak in a plug for his personal dream guest star on 30 Rock. “McCartney! We want Paul McCartney to come on.” It isn’t just an idle wish, either — according to Baldwin, the show is “working on” getting the one-time Beatle on the show. But he might be overruled by 30 Rock‘s main matriarch, Tina Fey, who said while backstage with her cast for their Outstanding Comedy win that the official dream guest star is Meryl Streep. Meanwhile, when an Israeli journalist began seriously singing 30 Rock co-star Jane Krakowski praises, the rest of the cast began softly catcalling, and Fey leaned into the mic to announce, “Jane is in room [redacted] at the Four Seasons.” As you may have surmised, Fey was mortified to learn that she had, in fact, announced Krakowski’s actual room number. Whoops!

The Mad Men — and women — are stylish in any decade

The Mad Men cast, along with producer Matthew Weiner, arrived backstage while Outstanding Actress in a Drama winner Glenn Close was still at the mic. Rather than wait behind the door, however, they promptly and effortlessly ensconced themselves in nearby chairs and around the only bar in the room, perfectly arranged as if they were shooting an episode of their two-time Emmy-winning Outstanding Drama series. Well, okay, it was a neon-enhanced Coca-Cola bar, and the chairs were uncomfortably utilitarian white wooden fold-ups, but it didn’t matter: Bedecked in their tuxes and chic gowns, they were the picture of classy cool. Weiner even managed to slip a subtle poke at the state of network TV while ostensibly defending it. He denied that he saw a difference between cable programming — which had yet another great night at the Emmys — and network programming, noting that “You’re talking about a cord that goes into somebody’s house.” How did Weiner choose to further commend network television? By acknowledging its ability to put on a great awards show: “This network, CBS, put on an amazing Emmys. I’ve been to seven Emmys — this was the best by far. And the broadcast networks did that.”

Kristin Chenoweth sparkles — literally!

Literally sparkling in a seriously bedazzled dress, Pushing Daisies star Kristin Chenoweth was also sparkling with happiness over her unexpected win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, since her show has long since left the airwaves. “I wasn’t expecting to win,” she beamed. “I’m so thrilled the Academy remembered our show.” But since she was out of contention for next year’s Emmys, Chenoweth said she expected Glee‘s Jane Lynch would be standing in her place in 2010. Chenoweth also stood up for new American Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres: “A lot of people give Ellen a lot of guff for not being a trained singer, but Ellen represents a lot of America.” And since the new Emmy winner was herself a guest judge during the upcoming season’s auditions, she had this prediction: “I’m going to say our next American Idol will be a male.”

Jeff Probst cheers NPH, (kinda) jeers Amazing Race

When asked to compare his performance as one of last year’s Emmy co-hosts with NPH’s job this year, it was no contest for Outstanding Realty-Competition Host winner Jeff Probst. “Five people hosting a show is not a good idea,” the Survivor host said, all dimples. “It was just a failure. I’m very good friends with Neil, and I couldn’t be happier for Neil. The guy can sing, dance, do tricks!” Probst was slightly less diplomatic when asked for his feelings on The Amazing Race and its strangle-hold on the Reality-Competition category. “You can’t argue against Race — it’s well-produced, it’s a big show,” Probst began. But then he threw down this gauntlet: “Maybe Amazing Race should do what Oprah did [in the Daytime Emmys] and pull [itself] out of the competition.”

Don’t count on it, Probst

Race producer Bert Van Munster, along with Jerry Bruckheimer and a massive entourage of fellow producers, just happened to be the next winners to arrive at the backstage press room after Probst. So would Amazing Race pull itself out of contention at the Emmys, Bert? “I’m going to discuss it with my committee here,” he said, “but it’s unlikely.” Not that he had expected to continue Race‘s record-setting Emmy run. “I didn’t think we were going to win. It was very intimidating to win for the seventh time.” So who did Bert think was going to win? Nope, not Survivor. It was Dancing with the Stars.

Ellen DeGeneres on American Idol = more fun!

Hey, American Idol director and Emmy winner Bruce Gowers, how do you think the show will change with Ellen DeGeneres as a judge? “I think there will be a lot more fun on the show than there ever was before!” Ummm, so was it not fun with Paula? “No! It was wonderful to work with Paula — she was always the unexpected.” Nicely put.

No, Jessica Lange is not a cougar

Outstanding Actress in a Made for TV Movie or Miniseries winner Jessica Lange was asked about what she thinks about the term “cougar.” And the Grey Gardens star had the very best answer possible: “What does that mean? Why have I not heard that before? Where have I been?”

More Emmy Awards coverage on EW:

2009 Emmys: Best and worst red carpet fashion

Our 2009 Emmy Awards live blog

2009 Emmys: See what you missed in our backstage report

2009 Emmys: Ken Tucker’s best and worst moments

Video: Red carpet interview with True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer

Video: Emmy-winner Michael Emerson and Jorge Garcia on the next season of Lost

Video: Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski leak 30 Rock spoilers!

Video: The cast of The Office shares spoilers on the red carpet