Feb 22, 2019

Axios PM

Situational awareness:

  • Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution.
  • R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
1 big thing: Oscars surprises

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Academy Awards have gotten tons of press this year for things not going right, but there's reason to believe Sunday's show will be an all-around surprise.

The big picture: Ratings have been on the decline, there's no host and producers have taken grief for the show's 3+ hour runtime.

  • “We’re good! We’re good!” producer Donna Gigliotti told the AP yesterday. “Did we look like cadavers yesterday?”
  • “I think that the show is in very good shape,” Gigliotti said. “We feel good about the way it is flowing, looking (and) our presenters.”

Behind the intrigue:

  1. No host means more star cameos, including Barbra Streisand, Michael B. Jordan, Tina Fey, Charlize Theron and Michael Keaton, the AP notes. Expect cameos from Serena Williams, Rep. John Lewis and chef Jose Andres.
  2. And don't forget politics: Those celebrity cameos mean more opportunities for commentary on President Trump and the 2020 presidential election.
  3. There's a slew of historic nominations on the table, including "Black Panther" (first action movie nominated) vs. "Roma" (first Netflix film to get a nod) in the Best Picture race.
  4. And women have snagged a record-number of nominations this year, although Diane von Furstenberg lamented the lack of nods to female directors and cinematographers.

Between the lines:

  • This year's ratings should be better than expected because the pictures with the most nominations were box office gold, Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Axios' Sara Fischer.
  • "Black Panther," "A Star is Born" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" collectively pulled more than $1 billion in revenue at the box office.
  • "Many more people have seen this group of Oscar contenders than is typical in any given year."

P.S. "Will seven times be the charm for Glenn Close?" Variety asks.

  • "With this, her seventh nomination for a stunning turn as a long-suffering spouse in 'The Wife,' will Close finally get the recognition she deserves? Odds-makers say yes, but she faces stiff competition from Olivia Colman ('The Favourite') and Lady Gaga ('A Star is Born')."
Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Lars Baron/Getty Images

Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan jumps during the trial round of the HS130 men's ski jumping Competition of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Innsbruck, Austria.

2. What you missed
  1. Virgin Galactic made history today by sending a passenger to space aboard a commercial aircraft. Background.
  2. The Trump administration issued a rule barring Planned Parenthood and other groups that offer abortions or abortion referrals from participating in the $286 million federal family planning program. What they're saying.
  3. The pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC denounced the deal pushed by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to form a united ultra right-wing party. Details.
  4. Actor Jussie Smollett has been cut from the final 2 episodes of the fifth season of "Empire." Go deeper.
  5. The investigation that snared Robert Kraft was targeting alleged human traffickers who lured women to 10 Orlando-area massage parlors, where they were intimidated into prostitution. Details.
3. 1 fun Oscars thing

"From a $25,000 flat monthly fee to the big bonuses each win can bring, a contract obtained by The Hollywood Reporter — and verified by several sources — reveals the money that strategists can earn during awards season."

Why it matters: There's a ton of bonus cash at stake for Oscars consultants.

  • "The coveted best picture contest stands apart from all the rest. The going rate for a nomination is $25,000, and another $50,000 for a win.
  • "A nomination for best director, best actress or best actor results is rewarded by a bonus of $10,000, and another $20,000 for a victory.
  • "The bonus for a nomination [for other awards] ... is $5,000 and an additional $10,000 for a win."

Pony up.