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Freebies & fashion

Glamour and swag meet on red carpet

The most peculiar new ritual at this year’s arrivals: handing out expensive swag on the red carpet.

“ET” had some deal with Kodak where they presented five initial-engraved digital cameras, one for each best actress nominee. The “little” pieces of product placement were said to be worth $20,000.

At a time when nominees have seen just about every strange thing possible flung at them during awards race hoopla, this stopped a few of them cold. The general reaction was: “Look at that! Twenty grand right in my hand.”

Judi Dench seemed especially fascinated by the gift. Asked if she thought it odd to be receiving the gift at that particular moment, her ladyship said: “I think it’s great. I’ve never owned a digital camera before.”

The arrivals have famously become a fashion show, where designers compete to dress the actresses. What’s a bit odd is these elegant swans are accompanied by female publicists who have the no-nonsense attitude of prison matrons.

That said, the publicists have to endure some strange interviews. Staci Wolfe mentioned how Isaac Mizrahi asked Matt Dillon if “having an Oscar helps him get a date” and then rolled her eyes skyward.

For the record, the low-end of arrivals fashion was Larry McMurtry in blue jeans with a water bottle hanging out of his jacket; the mid-range was Dolly Parton, who said “They had to sew me in and they’ll have to rip me out” of her tight dress.

The high end was Jennifer Lopez, who said, “Everyone keeps asking me how much this stuff costs. That’s weird to me.”

Of course much of the couture and jewelry was loaned. Kathleen Kennedy had some impressive loaned diamonds but said they’d represent “about .05” of the “Munich” budget.

What was ironic was the fluff of all the fashion was in direct contrast to the seriousness of the nominated films.

“The Oscars reflect the mood of the country,” Warner Independent topper Mark Gill said. “And the mood of the country is pretty miserable.”

Ang Lee said he thought the country’s “social atmosphere has changed and the movies have caught up with that.”

“Crash” producer Cathy Schulman said the reason for the serious films was “the world’s a tough place and people what to hear about the experiences of the person standing next to them.”

And George Clooney said the serious phenom has happened before: “Look, ‘Marty’ won best picture and 10 people went to see it.”

And while the nominations haven’t had huge box office, AMPAS prexy Sid Ganis thought the show would draw viewers because “the public is interested in the films even if they haven’t seen them because they’ve heard so much about them.”

Aside from the worries of fashion and ratings were those of Ludacris, who said he was just enjoying “the power, the wealth and the energy” of the night. And Paul Beauregard, who wrote “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” and said he didn’t care how ABC censored the song for the telecast.

“However they play it,” said Beauregard, “just as long as they play it.”

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