By: Christine, Toronto
By: Christine, Toronto
A.B. Replies: Your question spurred intriguing, sometimes even frightened, reactions across Hollywood, better known among local Dutch speakers as Gifty Von Freebietown or Der Graftengrabben. The idea of a celebrity returning a carefully marketed package of tooth whitener and custom lip color and Blahnik sandals is enough to send some professional gifters into a dead faint.
"If you haven't already posted my answer," one gifter begged this B!tch, "Please don't." It turns out the gifter hadn't even given me an answer to begin with. Your question clearly scared this person totally witless.
Most celebrities do not decline gifts, at least not right at the point of receipt. Bad form. It's much more common for celebrities to take their baskets or bags or leather suitcases stuffed with $10,000 diamond-studded aviators back to their walled compounds. Once there, in comfort and privacy, the stars pour the bulk of their freebies into a big trough, yell sooey and wait for their herd of support staff to thunder in for their daily rummage. (In the market for your own Hollywood housekeeper trough? I hear Dodd Mitchell designs killer ones.)
Sela Ward's husband once told this B!tch that their housekeeper would quit if the couple didn't bring home a steady stream of unwanted gift bags. He was only half kidding, if he was kidding at all. For your reference, Sela Ward's husband is not a comedic actor.
Some celebrities will immediately turn gifts over to the needy. This B!tch lassoed Karen Wood, head of Backstage Creations, which operates on-site gifting retreats at major awards shows. Wood dishes that two celebrities, Lili Taylor and Daryl Hannah, recently donated their Sundance freebies to a cause called Global Green, which champions the environment. However, keep in mind that those were two donations out of dozens of celebrities who blew through Sundance, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free stuff.
Another gifting guru, Lash Fary of Distinctive Assets, confirms that some stars routinely turn their gift baskets into boons for the poor.
"Ellen DeGeneres and Stockard Channing, most notably, often auction their gifts and gift bags on eBay to raise money for their favorite charities," Fary tells this B!tch.
Last Oscar season, Natalie Portman almost turned down an expensive handbag gifted to her by Revlon, because the product was leather. But Revlon quickly offered an equally decadent handbag made of cloth, and the actress accepted without qualm.
The truth is, most of the time, high-end gifts simply disappear into the void of celebrity greed without comment or ceremony. Celebrities see these gifts as a right, not a privilege. Do not expect this year's five Best Actress Oscar nominees to part with the $6,000 worth of swag delivered last month--a gift that includes a sumptuous, silver clutch bag by Lambertson Truex. Do not expect them to scoff at the diamond-studded camera being offered Oscar nominees by Kodak and Kwiat. (Each camera is customized with the nominee's initials in diamonds. Presh!) Most often, those refusals just don't happen. At least not publicly.
"I have literally gifted thousands of celebrities over the past seven years--at the Grammys, the Oscars, the Tonys, Kids' Choice Awards," Fary says. "First, you should know that celebrities are very aware that they are wealthy, and most of the ones I know donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to various charities every year. You should also know that they aren't being gifted as part of some sort of charitable outreach. Companies are clamoring to place their products into their star-studded hands in order to leverage their celebrity to help market and promote their products.
"More importantly, celebrities are being gifted as a thank-you for volunteering their time as a presenter or performer at an awards show, and you don't surrender your right to gratitude just because you're rich and famous."
Great. I'll keep that in mind when it happens.