Everyone is going to be talking about the Oscars today, so here are a few curve balls to throw into the conversation when the debate over who deserves Best Film gets too heated. The goody bags given out to every attendee at today’s Academy Awards ceremony have an individual value of $80,000. If Oscars’ goody bags were a prime indicator of economic progress, it would be safe to assume that things were on the up and up, as this is twice as much as last year’s.
The funny thing about the goody bags is that they are handed out to very rich people who can already afford the stuff that’s in them several times over. Any folically-challenged actor may well be thrilled by the most expensive item in the bag, a $16,000 voucher for a robotic hair restoration, but truth be told, their personal hair stylist will soon discourage them from straying off to some rival salon. If they did try it out, they may come to appreciate the cheapest item in the bag, the $6.49 Drain Wig, which prevents loose hair from clogging up the shower. Same goes for another of the least expensive items, a Mace pepper gun, worth $120. Do they need that when they have their own security detail? What does a Hollywood superstar do with it? The answer – give it to an assistant.
Whether so many “O-shot procedures” will be re-gifted is another question altogether. This $2,700 treatment is a vaginal stimulation intended to reawaken sex drive. Then there’s a $4,900 system to purify home water supplies, or a $2,560 home spa installation in the unlikely event star’s homes are lacking in such basic necessities already. Further afield a $6,850 train trip through the Rockies, or a $15,000 walking tour through Japan may appeal, depending on shooting schedules and outstanding invitations for vacations on yachts and private islands.
The company who put the bags together, Distinctive Assets, is pleased with this year’s fistful of freebies. They say that companies have been falling over themselves to contribute everything from Swiss watches to herbal tea lollipops. Whilst a VIP might well have long forgotten what on earth to do with a re-useable dry-cleaning bag, they surely have someone who works for them who can figure it out.
In fact, a switched-on employee, at the event by default of being on-call, could capitalize on their earning potential for the night by doing overtime as a “seat-filler.” The organizers don’t like to see an empty stadium so will pay as much as more than $200 an hour to make the Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theater look like its full to 3,000 + capacity.
Only one person called Oscar has ever won an Oscar. That was Oscar Hammerstein II who won twice for best song. Sadly, that was before they changed the script in 1989 to “And the Oscar goes to..” It was altered from “And the winner is..” to make the losers feel better.
Winning one is not really like getting a new possession, unlike the items in the goody bags. Recipients only technically have them on loan, and should roles dry up and they need to sell Oscar, he has to be offered back to the Academy for $1. This ruling came into effect in 1950 so statues pre-dating that time can sometimes come up for sale. Steven Spielberg bought Bette Davis’s but he had to pay $578,000 for it.
Nominees who come up time and time again always get the public sympathy vote, but none more so than Kevin O’Connell, a sound re-recorder. He has been nominated 20 times since 1983 and never won once. If he had an acceptance speech all ready back then, it would likely have been shorter. The speeches have gotten so long and so tearful in recent years that the Academy now has to cut them off after 45 seconds, by getting the orchestra to strike up. This was brought in after 2002 when the event ran for nearly four and a half hours as winners sobbed and thanked everyone from God to their next-door neighbor.
12 time nominee composer Thomas Newman seems to have Oscars contention in his DNA. His score for Saving Mr. Banks is up this year, making it the 88th time someone from his family has been nominated. He still can’t better Liza Minelli though, she is still the only Oscar winner to be the child of two Oscar winners.
The length of the red carpet into the theater is 500 feet and an estimated 700 million people around the world in 225 countries will be watching as the glitterati swan up it. One of those will be Jennifer Lawrence. If she wins for American Hustle, she will be only the 6th person to win in consecutive years, and the youngest, at 23, to win twice.
American Hustle also has the distinction of being nominated in all four of the acting categories. No film has ever swept the board with all four, although Network and A Streetcar Named Desire have come close, both took three. Collectors of film facts will be on the edge of their seats to record such shifts in the data.
Last year, it cost $38.3 million to stage the event, but it paid for itself by generating $89.6 million revenue. The contributors to the Oscars 2014 goody bags are doubtless hoping for such threefold return on their investment.
Only fifty people will go home with an Oscar after today’s Academy Awards, but many more will have the swag from their goody bags as consolation prizes. The 86th Oscars ceremony will add to the ever-growing collection of fascinating trivia as this unique and compelling spectacle takes place.
By Kate Henderson