December 24, 1995
Web posted at: 11:50 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Jill Brooke
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The holiday season can be a real headache for the Hollywood elite. Sure they make all those millions, but now people expect them to be Santa Claus.
That's why in Hollywood, gift giving is a blood sport -- a time of excess and one-upmanship.
"It about marking your tracks in the snow, even though there isn't snow in Hollywood, and saying 'here is where I am in the food chain and this gift tells you where your place is in the food chain,'" says Bob Ickes, a writer with Vogue Magazine.
Now that Tim Allen has delivered Disney a hit film and TV series, maybe he'll receive what Robin Williams got after the success of "Aladdin" -- one of Picasso's priceless paintings.
"Lethal Weapon's" director Richard Donner gave film producer Joel Silver a customized pinball machine worth $50,000.
"He had it carefully constructed to bark obscenities and messages from Demi Moore and Arnold Schwarzenegger," Ickes explains.
Gift baskets are also popular, especially the low-fat baked goods at New York's Better Baker. The bakery's owner, Elena Castaneda, says that Yoko Ono, Gene Hackman, Steve Martin and Juliane Philips have been among this year's customers.
"In fact, producers are sending them to movie star clients," she says. "I guess they want to keep them in shape for their shows."
But status is also tallied by gift baskets. Meg Ryan has bigger hits than her husband Dennis Quaid and -- natch -- gets bigger baskets.
Only Hollywood would have specialized gift consultants, trained to know what each star collects. The business grosses $75 million a year, and they often visit New York's Zitomer's Department Store.
"They're well traveled and know what's out there and want that unique product and that's hard to find," says Zitomer's owner Sharon Sternheim.
Zitomer's Vice President Murray Shapiro pointed out some of the more popular gifts bought for and from the stars -- stars like Candace Bergen, Bette Midler, the Princess Aga Khan.
"Randy Quaid bought (an) electric chess set," Shapiro says.
And then there are the designer Moschino's for Hollywood tikes and future tycoons, or Chanel-inspired suits for little girls training to have lunch Hollywood style.
Hollywood's elite may not be needy, but don't think they don't suffer during Christmas. After all, the perfect status-gift is hard to find.
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