Jeffrey Lyons to Malzberg: Oscars’ $45,000 Gift Bag Giveaway is 'Vulgar'

Friday, 22 Feb 2013 05:48 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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Veteran movie critic Jeffrey Lyons has come out swinging against the practice of bestowing gift bags worth tens of thousands of dollars on Academy Award nominees who fail to win a golden statuette — calling it “vulgar.’’

“In these times, they should give them all to charity or send them to the veterans, the troops, something like that. Make some sort of gesture,’’ Lyons told Steve Malzberg on Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show.’’

“That is kind of vulgar, I’m kind of surprised, I really am.’’

This year’s swag bag is worth in excess of $45,000.

It includes a $12,000 trip to Australia; a $5,000 face-lift procedure; a $3,000 stay at Mexico’s St. Regis Punta Mita Resort; ten personal training sessions worth $850, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In addition, there’s a certificate for circus lessons for the nominees’ kids worth $400; a $1,800 membership to Heathrow Airport’s private VIP service; a six-pack of Naked Brand condoms; and a bottle of Windex.

Also in the bag is “Portion-Control Dinnerware’’ by Slimware; hair ties that double as bracelets; The Ultimate Fuzz Remover, which gets rid of sweater pills; and a $120 bottle of high-end maple syrup.

The swag bag — put together by the public relations firm of Distinctive Assets for the past 11 years — is called the “Everyone Wins at the Oscars Nominee Gift Bag.”

It will be handed out to nominees who lose in such categories as best actress, best actor, best supporting actress, best supporting actor and best director.

Lyons — whose film reviews and features have been heard for more than 40 years on WPIX-TV, WNBC-TV and WCBS Radio — said in contrast to the Oscars, other awards shows have avoided giving out freebies.

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