Crunching the Oscar numbers

Part of the 79th Academy Awards Commemorative Poster

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: This Sunday the world will be watching to see who walks away with the Oscar gold. But what about the Oscar green? You know, all the money that will be made that's directly and indirectly tied to the Academy Awards. Mike Speier is the managing editor for the Daily Variety. Welcome Mike.

MIKE SPEIER: Hi, how are you?

THOMAS: How much does it cost the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to put on the Oscars?

SPEIER: The figure is a public figure. ABC gives the academy about $50 million, anywhere between $50 and $55 million to just 'go, be free, do what you want to do.' Putting on the Oscar show can be anywhere, the range has been from about $8 or $10 million to about $20 million. So basically they get a very, very hefty chunk of change and they get to put on the show with that money, but they also get to line their coffers with it as well.

THOMAS: We often hear complaints about how long the show is and the struggle to hold viewers. How lucrative is this telecast for ABC?

SPEIER: The fact that they've had it forever, they pay $55 million and they let it go on, I mean everything points to the fact that it's a very, very lucrative show. It's always in the top five in the ratings, top three in the ratings every year. It's a big deal.

THOMAS: So how is it that CBS, HBO, nobody else ever gets to telecast this? Is this some sweetheart deal between ABC and the academy?

SPEIER: It's a contract. Unlike the Emmys, and the Emmys have to be nice to everybody because they're a TV show that covers TV so they don't want to go with one particular network because it looks like favoritism. This is just the movie business, the academy contracting with the network and they've had ABC for a long time.

THOMAS: OK those bags with the expensive tchotchkes, they're no longer tax deductible. Are they still handing them out?

SPEIER: They're not giving the presenters what we've all found out a couple years ago is what they were getting like trips to Italy and TiVo boxes and things like that. That is not happening anymore. That doesn't mean that they're not taking care of their presenters when they come in from around the world. And if you're Nicolas Cage and you're presenting an Oscar to the Best Actress or whatever, you're going to be put up nicely, you're gonna be given . . .

THOMAS: You're gonna get something more than chocolate on your pillow.

SPEIER: Of course. You're going to be given something, but you're not gonna get those boxes which appealed to everyone. I mean gift bags in general aren't going away. These particular ones are going away. They are still gonna have some gift suites which over recent years has come into effect as being a very strange but popular thing which is the weekend before the Oscars, people can go to hotel rooms and say, 'I'd like those and those and those.' There are not as many but they still happen.

THOMAS: It's a nice perk.

SPEIER: Yeah.

THOMAS: OK thanks.

SPEIER: Thanks.

THOMAS: And in Los Angeles, I'm Mark Austin Thomas. Thanks for joining us. Have a great weekend.

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