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A Tisket, a Tasket, a Fabulous Oscar Basket

March 24, 2000|BARBARA THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The gold statue may be the most coveted prize at the Academy Awards, but the 115 other participants who walk away with coveted Oscar gift baskets are big winners too.

Each hand-woven maple basket contains 40 expensive luxury goodies. Though no one will discuss the value of gift baskets, their contents total thousands of dollars. Consider the $850 David Yurman charm bracelet, $265 Bally men's Havana loafers, $1,700 TAG Heuer watch, $1,100 beaded pashmina shawl from Pamela Dennis, two-night getaway in a suite at any Ritz-Carlton in the world, and much more.

This year, the academy will give baskets to Oscar presenters, as well as performers, writers and a few other behind-the-scenes staff members. Presenters are typically not paid for their appearances but often receive gifts from the show's producers.

Past Oscar gifts have included jackets, hats or sweatshirts, which the academy still hands out to participants on Oscar night.

The academy began giving gift baskets 11 years ago, a tradition followed by other award shows. At the recent Grammys, for example, performers and presenters were given a $275 Tumi duffel bag stuffed with $5,000 worth of customized goodies, including a day at Santa Monica's Aqua Spa, Nicole shoes, Paul Frank pajamas, a Nokia cell phone, perfume, beauty products and shawls.

But the creme de la creme is the Oscar basket. Companies vie to have their products included for the exposure to desirable high-profile customers.

The baskets, said Susan Nicholas, president of the TAG Heuer watch company, are a sign that your product is part of an exclusive club.

"We have had a relationship with Hollywood for many years. . . . Hollywood celebrities are fantastic brand ambassadors for a brand like TAG Heuer," Nicholas said.

The watches, which retail for anywhere from $650 to $12,000, target a specific market of what Nicholas calls "young achievers." In Nicholas' view, for Hollywood to wear the watch, both socially and in movies, shows the product's understated exclusivity. "Versus shouting through advertising. It feels a little bit more like a natural club," she said.

Hundreds of companies reportedly court the academy to have products included in the baskets; this year's contributors were carefully selected by the academy and current producers Lily and Richard Zanuck. Their criteria: to be exclusive and unisex, since presenters often aren't chosen until a few weeks before the awards.

The baskets by Longaberger Co. will be packaged by Clifford Miller the Flower Shop. They will be filled with (in alphabetical order):

Absolut Vodka;

Alfred Dunhill of London silver letter opener, cuff links and the book "Longitude";

America Online VIP membership;

Baccarat crystal heart paperweight;

Bally men's and women's Havana loafers;

Bays-Brown Laboratories Re Vive Skin care products;

Blockbuster $100 VIP gift card;

Christofle Libellue silver-plated bowl;

David Yurman 18-karat gold bracelet with charm;

Eastman Kodak DC215 Zoom Digital Camera;

Ermenegildo Zegna men's silk tie;

Frederic Fekkai Beaute de Provence hair products;

Frette white cotton velour robe with enclosure cards for custom monogramming;

Garden.com gift card for a year's worth of plants or flowers;

Giorgio Armani sunglasses and new women's fragrance, Mania;

Godiva Chocolatier 30-piece deluxe truffle assortment;

House of Harry Winston sterling silver travel frame in leather case;

i2go.com eGo portable MP3 player, 64 meg;

Jimmy Choo leather accessories;

Lily-Henry-Zoe $250 gift certificate;

Louis Vuitton leather accessory pouch;

M.A.C. cosmetics gift box;

Marc Friedland/Creative Intelligence personalized stationery;

Martell Cordon Bleu Cognac;

Mastro Fine Sports Auctions' Joe DiMaggio autographed baseball in display case;

Modern Library, a division of Random House, "The Making of '2001: A Space Odyssey' ";

Montblanc Meisterstuck stainless-steel ballpoint pen;

Pamela Dennis pashmina wrap;

Peninsula Beverly Hills, two custom spa services plus hair styling or blow dry;

Quail Lodge in Carmel, weekend getaway;

Ritz-Carlton, two-night getaway in a suite at any Ritz-Carlton in the world;

Salvatore Ferragamo, millennium silk scarf;

Sephora.com, $250 gift certificate;

Sports Club/LA, one-year bicoastal health-club membership;

TAG Heuer, limited-edition 2000 Chronograph watch;

Wolfword America, Stay-hip sheer tights and men's knee socks.

*

Barbara Thomas can be reached at barbara.thomas@latimes.com.

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