Recession takes little sheen off Oscar gold

Mon Feb 16, 2009 3:17pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Whether it's the recession, the age of Obama or the fact a hopeful movie is favored to win best film, it's clear that change has come to Hollywood as Oscar week kicks off on Monday.

Movie fans and critics have escaped the gloomy economy by seeking out Academy Award front-runner "Slumdog Millionaire," a rags-to-riches romance about a poor, young Indian man on an odds-defying quest on a television game show.

"Slumdog" follows two straight years of dark crime dramas -- "No Country for Old Men" and "The Departed" -- winning the world's top film honor, the Oscar, for best motion picture.

Party planners and caterers say plans for Oscar festivities have slowed ahead of Sunday's Oscar show. Celebrity gift-getting suites are open for business but organizers say giving back seems to be more of a priority among the stars.

"Obama asked us for a day of service and we're asking for a night to make a difference," celebrity talk show hostess Leeza Gibbons said.

Gibbons and singer Olivia Newton-John's are hosting an Oscar night benefit for Gibbons' Memory Foundation and Newton-John's Cancer and Wellness Center.

"A lot of the glamour associated with the Oscars is still there but it's tempered by the economic times," Gibbons said.

Vanity Fair, which once ruled the roost of Oscar parties, will renew its annual gala but the affair will be toned down compared to previous years due, in part, to the recession.   Continued...

<p>An Oscar statue is shown using a special lens in Hollywood, California in this February 21, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Max Morse</p>