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The Oscar Fan Favorite? Vote If You Dare! – Deadline

Wow, have you looked at those official rules for the Oscar Fan Favorite sweepstakes? That’s the first-time-ever contest that lets you vote 20 times each day on Twitter (or else on the official Website) for your favorite movie of the year, and maybe become one of three lucky Grand Prize winners who get flown with a guest to Los Angeles (unless you already live in Pacoima) and possibly become a presenter at the 95th Academy Awards show in 2023?

Pretty cool, huh? At least, it seems that way until you drill into the fine print—and there’s an awful lot of it, posted right here.

The good news is no purchase is necessary to enter or win. You can just dive in, and start voting.

The bad news, right out of the gate, is that you can’t vote if  you’re under the age of 18. A minimum age requirement disenfranchises about 30 percent of the U. S. population, a 17-and-under segment that accounted for fully 39 percent of ticket sales in 2020, according to the Motion Picture Association.

Foreign movie fans, too, can forget about it. Global pretensions of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences notwithstanding, this contest is designed strictly for the USA. Even Canadians (long counted in the domestic box office) can’t enter. In fact, even the undocumented had better watch their step. According to the sweepstakes rules, the contest is “open only to legal residents (emphasis added) of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”

No visa. No green card. No Hollywood.

But that’s not all. “Entrants may not have been convicted of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude”: It says so right there in the fine print. An ex-felon, once having served his, her or their time, can vote in New Jersey and a bunch of other states. But not when it comes to the Oscar Fan Favorite. And they’re serious about this. A prospective winner will have to consent to a criminal background check before collecting the prize.

And what a prize it is. The retail value, according to the rules, is estimated at all of $1,650. That includes presumed air fare for a winner and a guest (sounds like coach), ground transportation from airport to hotel and on to the Oscar venue (Lyft? Uber?), a $250 American Express gift card and two nights in a hotel of the prize administrator’s choice.

Given the relatively modest retail value, it’s a safe bet you won’t be in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Which might be a good thing, because winners have to provide tax identification information on a W9, and the cash value of the prize will be reported to the IRS on Form 1099. You’re responsible for all federal, state and local taxes. Also for tips. And for meals. And you may have to provide a valid credit card on checking in at the hotel, say the rules: The Academy won’t be picking up your mini-bar tab.

Things get even rougher when it comes to the show.  Winners are warned to behave in a “respectful and courteous manner” toward talent. You can get thrown out, advise the rules, for “harassing or insulting actors.” If you’re permitted to speak on the show, producers will write the script. Use of drugs and alcohol is prohibited before or during your moment on-stage (as if we’ve never seen a tipsy Oscar moment). Violating any of the above “may expose the winner to potential legal liability.”

But read on.

Liability, we learn, is a one-way street. The Academy and its partners get rights to promotional use of your voice, likeness, biography, and so on, around the world, in all media known or yet to be invented, without further compensation. If anything goes wrong, you agree, in advance, that said Academy and its partners are held harmless. Should you attempt to engage them in dispute, you will agree in advance to abide by arbitration, and will pay an expected $250 fee to initiate your case. Unless you live in California, where some bothersome rules apply, you will also pay the Academy group’s costs and fees if you lose.

So if you’re old enough, legal, well-behaved, sober, free of moral turpitude,  prepared for the tax hit, and can afford to feed yourself for a couple of nights in L.A., have at it.

The polls close at 11:59 p.m., Pacific Time, on March 3. The correct time will be determined by a computer maintained by the prize administrator, which is one Probability LLC of Woodstock, N.Y.



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