Oscar greed -- is it out of control? Jessica Shaw says there are many people in Hollywood who'll benefit from the lavish gifts and goodie bags bestowed on Oscar nominees, and they aren't all named Kidman or Connelly
Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Connelly
Credit: Kidman & Connelly: Kevin Mazur/Wireimage.com

Oscar greed — is it out of control?

Come Sunday night around midnight, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Connelly, and the other Oscar nominees may or may not be carrying around little golden statuettes. But they will be the proud owners of La-Z-Boy gift certificate nonetheless. And you just know that win or lose, they are really going to be cashing that one in first thing Monday morning. Let’s enter the bizarre yet fascinating world of the Oscar gift basket.

A few years ago, Academy Award nominees and presenters maybe scored a bottle of champagne and some lipstick. This year, the goodie bag is filled with more than $20,000 worth of treats. $20,000! Granted, that’s just a per diem for most of the people receiving the baskets, but a price tag like that is a bit excessive for someone who simply has to utter the words, ”And the Oscar goes to….”

Oddly enough, of the $20,000 worth of items, few of them are such must-haves. Granted, some of the better loot isn’t revealed until after the show itself, but let’s go over what we know about: A CJ & Me handbag (worth $400), an Ebel watch ($1,450), a certificate to a Cabo San Lucas resort ($2,000), a teeth whitening session ($600), and a mattress voucher ($1,000). Throw in some Joy perfume, a vintage cashmere sweater, and a few more toys and the cost keeps escalating. Is Russell Crowe really going to nab that mattress? Does Kate Winslet need a new handbag? And even if the treats were awe-inspiring, could these people need the freebies any less? When you’re scoring $20 million a pic, a charge-free teeth whitening session just doesn’t seem all that enthralling.

And then, of course, there are extra gifts that go to all the nominees. One celeb gift buyer I spoke to said the studios are sinking thousands of dollars into buying presents for their nominees — regardless of whether they win or lose. In addition, all the major nominees got the new teeny tiny but definite power accessory V70 Motorola phone that won’t even appear on the market for months. (”Beautiful Mind” producer Brian Grazer was so jealous of director Ron Howard’s phone he personally called Motorola to beg for one of his own.) And the Best Actress nominees all got a diamond studded bra with 14k white gold stripes from Victoria’s Secret. Okay, at least the phone is useful.

Let’s fast forward now to Monday morning. The dresses are hung up, the diamonds are returned to Harry Winston, the hangovers are in full gear, and the statuettes are probably in bed with their new owners. And the gift baskets filled with the $20,000 of goodies? Do we really think any A-lister ? or even B- or C-lister — will have held onto those gift certificates? Guess again people. The real winners of the Oscar gift bag? Welcome to the perks of being a personal assistant.