The Academy Awards: Take the Party on the Road

Last night as I decided to watch the 82nd Academy Awards. The ceremony is the Cinderella ball of the film industry.  I don’t watch them every year nor anticipate the Best Film, Actor and Actress awards with bated breath. I have a moderate interest in red carpet regalia. However, this year I decided to watch because I adore Gabourey Sidibe. I find her personality and her personal story as stellar as her film debut in “Precious”.

Hollywood is big bucks. The millions of dollars spent for film productions are par for the course. This year’s Best Picture, “Hurt Locker” cost $11 million dollars to produce, a paltry amount compared to the blockbuster “Avatar” which had a $230 million price tag. The economic impact of award shows on Hollywood and Los Angeles is also rather significant. The Academy Awards is a $130 million boon to the local economy. Remember all the furor over the writer’s strike and the 2008 cancellation of the Golden Globes? That resulted in at least an $80 million loss.

I began to think, with local economies across the nation starving for cash and Hollywood’s willingness to spend hyper-gobs of money on ceremonial displays and related ancillaries, (e.g. designer clothes, makeup, hotels, limousines etc.) why not host the Academy Awards in a different U.S. city each year just like the Super Bowl? It is the “Super Bowl” of the film industry, right?

Think about the economic value in addition to the publicity value of this world renowned event on the local economy?

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was a nice boon to cab companies, hotels, bars, restaurants and tourist attractions in Buffalo. Twenty-five years ago, “The Natural” was filmed in Buffalo and with it came a little Hollywood spending.  Keanu Reeves was also here filming “Henry’s Crime” a few months ago. I’m sure he bought a few burgers and a couple of beers. He did his part.

Imagine the possible fiscal jolt for any city that hosts the Academy Awards? A $130 million jolt!

Hotel workers, florists, limousines, caterers, taxi drivers, waitstaff, bartenders and delivery personnel would get a brief but necessary windfall. Buffalo is full of low-wage jobs in case you have not heard.

Of course big events are not longterm solutions but local businesses do benefit from them.

I’m not advocating that hosting the Academy Awards in a different city each year is the ultimate anti-poverty measure. Poverty ain’t pretty but it sure as hell is sexy and profitable for Hollywood. I just think it might be nice if Hollywood would spread the wealth that it’s successful films generate to the good people who don’t get always get a thank you on Oscar night.

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