The value of this year's bag sets a record
Israeli Ministry of Tourism offers trip to Israel worth $55,000
Pro-Palestinian group calls on nominees to refuse trip
Don’t feel bad for the losers at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony – they won’t be leaving empty-handed.
According to The Daily Beast, this year’s Oscars gift bag will contain a record $200,000 worth of swag.
Distinctive Assets, the company that puts the bags together, describes this year’s haul as “once again a blend of fabulous, fun and functional items meant to thrill and pamper those who may have everything money can buy but still savor the simple joy of a gift.”
It’s truly a mixed bag, containing high-end items such as a year of unlimited Audi car rentals from Silvercar, free stays at hotels in Italy and a $900 toilet paper dispenser. Other novelties include personalized M&Ms; a Haze Dual V3 Vaporizer, retailing at $249.99; three private training sessions with “celebrity wellness expert” and star of ABC’s “My Diet Is Better Than Yours” Jay Cardiello, valued at $1,400.
But the most expensive handout, a 10-day, first-class trip to Israel, is also perhaps the most controversial.
Valued at $55,000, the trip is courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, which hopes to bring some Hollywood cool to the Holy Land. The ministry will foot the bill for round-trip airfare, 10 days at fine hotels and sightseeing trips across Israel for the Oscar nominee and a guest.
Not everyone is impressed with the generous gift.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, which encourages boycotts of Israel, says that stars who take up the free trip will be propping up the occupation of Palestinian territories.
“We’re asking Hollywood figures as they did in the apartheid South Africa era to not give their names for Israel to whitewash the occupation and violation of human rights.”
None of the top nominees has said if they will take the trip yet, but at least one nominee is rejecting the whole swag bag. Mark Rylance, up for best supporting actor for his role in “Bridge of Spies,” has spoken out in support of Palestinian causes and signed a pledge to not travel to Israel. His rep told CNN that he “won’t be accepting any gifts.”
Other nominees contacted by CNN declined to comment on the record.
The Ministry of Tourism wants to focus on beaches and history, not on conflict.
“Hopefully, there will be sometime to achieve some kind of peace agreement, but I think that talking about occupation or talking about boycotting Israel because of the current situation is something unfair,” said Yariv Levin, Israel’s minister of tourism.
Nominees wishing to play it safe might be better off with the “Vampire Breast Lift,” described as “the new secret ‘must have’ in Hollywood.” It’s said to use “blood-derived growth factors to revive rounder cleavage without implants.”
The 88th Academy Awards will air live at 7 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC.
For the record, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nothing to do with the gift bags. The Academy does not sanction or endorse them; in past years, it has sued to prevent makers of the bags from using the “Oscars” name or brand to promote them. By and large, within Hollywood the gift bag is considered a publicity ploy for brands or marketers, and accepting one is considered tacky.
CNN’s Emanuella Grinberg contributed to this report.