The Academy Rewards
With party favors like this, who needs a gold-plated statuette?

Focus

One can never be too rich or too famous for a token of appreciation. Witness this year's Oscar presenters, who each receive about $10,000 in gifts as a thank-you from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The goodies—including a $42 box of Godiva chocolate truffles and a $1,000 spa treatment at the Peninsula Beverly Hills—are donated by firms seeking a publicity boost from the star power of presenters like Helen Hunt, John Travolta and Jack Nicholson. "This is just a way to align ourselves with them in a very exclusive, focused event," says Susan Nicholas, president of Tag Heuer USA, who treats the presenters to $1,050 watches in hopes of creating "a certain buzz about the brand." Jean-Marc Gallot, president of the Christofle tableware company, donates a pair of $84 crystal champagne flutes to the stars "in the spirit of celebrating part of an American institution—Hollywood." But he also talks of the "huge opportunity" for the Academy Awards connection to help his business.

The party favor tradition began 11 years ago; by last year, each presenter's haul was weighing in at about 60 pounds and included a Harry Winston sterling silver compass, a Baccarat crystal pendant, a JBL stereo CD system and four upgrade certificates from United Airlines. This year's booty features an Armani tie ($125), Ferragamo scarf ($255), Nikon camera ($350), Waterman fountain pen ($750) and other eye-popping trinkets. The gifts, individually wrapped in cellophane and placed in $218 baskets woven from hardwood maple veneer strips and stained a butterscotch color, are bestowed on the presenters (who aren't otherwise paid) at the Oscar dress rehearsal. Then armed guards personally escort the loot to the stars' cars.

A beau for Ms. Brown
A single rose is very romantic. And if your name is Candice Bergen, a single Rose is even more so. Bergen, 52, widowed since the 1995 death of French director Louis Malle, the father of her 13-year-old daughter, Chloe, has been seen around New York City with Manhattan developer-philanthropist Marshall Rose, 62, himself a widower since 1996. "They're very lucky to have found each other," says socialite Patricia Patterson, a friend of Rose's. "He's bright, attractive, successful. He's a real catch—but so is Candice." Rose, whose apartment is in the Fifth Avenue building where Jacqueline Onassis lived, is chairman of a giant real estate development company but does more than just make piles of money: He is also, for example, chairman of the board of trustees of the New York Public Library. While friends say that the two, visible at dinners and concerts in Manhattan, seem very happy, no one expects to get an engraved invitation any time soon. "I think she's still more interested in her career than getting married again," says producer Arthur Cantor. When popped the question about popping the question, Rose said only, "We are very fond of each other."

Attracting a Heavyweight Crowd
Prizefights are now family fare, judging by the star-stuffed crowd who watched Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis go 12 rounds (to a controversial draw) at Madison Square Garden March 13. Denzel Washington and son John David; Michael Douglas and son Cameron; Matthew Broderick and wife Sarah Jessica Parker; and Keith Richards and wife Patti Hansen saw the bout, a semi-bust. "No knockdowns, no great rallies, not nearly as exciting as everyone hoped," opined Donald Trump.

Crediting Monica's Makeover
The subdued, sophisticated coif Monica Lewinsky displayed during her 20/20 interview is raising hackles in certain circles. Richard Keogh did the do, saying he was inspired by Liz Taylor and Snow White. But Harry King says Keogh stole the look he created last December for Lewinsky's book jacket. Replies Keogh: "I don't claim ownership to the style. It's not intellectual property." Meanwhile, Lewinsky's lipstick choice for the program (Club Monaco's $13 "Glaze") became a national bestseller the morning after the show.

Famous Voices, Novel Bookings

How do you get Brad Pitt to read you a bedtime story—if you're not Jennifer Aniston? Simple: Get Random House's audio-book version of Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses, which provides three hours of beautiful prose, plot and Pitt. Other celeb readers in the hot audio-book market include Kevin Spacey (Richard Russo's Nobody's Fool) and Natasha Richardson (Philip Puttman's The Golden Compass).

Money isn't the draw: Celeb or civilian, readers receive roughly the same pay—about $1,000 for each hour of finished tape. Pitt reportedly chose Horses because he's a McCarthy fan; other readers simply cherish the chance to experience "the purest form of acting," says Bantam Doubleday Dell's Christine McNamara.

"It's an interesting field, and you get to occupy the whole stage yourself," notes Ed Asner (Michael Crichton's Sphere). The challenge of trying to "paint pictures with words," says Blair Underwood, drew him to put Ralph Ellison's Juneteenth on tape. Random House's Sherry Huber says readings also give the stars a chance to get their hands on new stories—and possible screenplay material—before the books reach the general public. John Malkovich read The Accidental Tourist on tape, for example, and also produced the film.

ON THE BLOCK

A PRINCESS PARTS WITH HER CASTLE
Writer-actor Carrie Fisher will be sending postcards from a different edge of town now that she is selling her 1920s home near Beverly Hills. The four-bedroom, 4,200-square-foot hacienda—with an asking price of $4.25 million—sits on 2.6 acres and includes two guest cottages, a pool, tennis court and Fisher's favorite—the Red Room, a writing room inspired by a photograph she took in Italy. Like Fisher (daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher), the Spanish-decor home has a Hollywood pedigree: Previous owners include actor Robert Armstrong, who had the home built, and Academy Award-winning costume designer Edith Head.

  • Contributors:
  • Larry Sutton,
  • Michael Neill,
  • Anna Lisa Raya,
  • Kelly Carter,
  • Jennifer Longley,
  • Bob Meadows,
  • Ward Morehouse III,
  • Monica Rizzo,
  • Irene Zutell.