Hasta la Vista, Hors D'Ouevres!

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Who loses as the Academy and SAG move to limit awards season parties.

Hollywood's run-up  to the Oscars might be less glitzy this year. As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mulls new regulations on parties designed to win votes, the Screen Actors Guild will impose its first rule limiting the number of star-studded Q&As to three in New York and Los Angeles during the months before SAG Award noms are announced.

The moves come on the heels of an overcharged Oscar season, when champagne flowed at events such as Sony's January bash at Spago for The Social Network and Arianna Huffington's February party for the Weinstein Co.'s The King's Speech.

AMPAS sources say members complained that they were being lobbied with multiple celebrations per week hosted by studios and endorsers like Julia Roberts, whose event honored Javier Bardem's performance in Biutiful. "We were starting to feel like the HFPA," cracks one Academy member, referring to the heavily courted group that bestows the Golden Globes.

New rules must be approved by AMPAS' board of governors, but its members are likely to include limits on the frequency of receptions. Similar regulations on SAG Q&As -- which typically feature a screening of an in-contention film, followed by a chat session with the cast -- could alter campaigns because the panels allow stars to talk directly to their acting peers, who make up the largest segment of the Academy. And if Hollywood indeed cuts back on parties -- a big "if" -- event planners could feel the pain.

"Will the crackdown affect the awards-party business? Of course it will," says Jeffrey Best, who has put on Oscar soirees dating to 1996's The English Patient. "But they're not the biggest events. The loss of glamour is more important than the loss of money."

Oscar Campaign Crackdowns

  • 1996: Direct-mail ads banned as voter mailboxes overflow.
  • 2003: Ads quoting Academy members ruled out after Robert Wise touts Martin Scorsese.
  • 2004: Trash-talking of films prohibited after ads knock Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain.
  • 2007: Sending CDs, sheet music or videos is outlawed. The CD ban is reversed in 2008.