Planning to watch the Golden Globes news conference tonight? Me neither.
Half the fun of any awards show is watching the attendees and snarking about their attire, coifs, reactions and acceptance speeches.
But while the writers' strike effectively killed the show itself this year, Hollywood swag lives.
Instead of handing out carefully packed swag bags, 2008 goodies were distributed last week at "gift suites" where celebrities could discreetly partake of myriad indulgences.
One distribution point was The Secret Room, an invitation-only event "at a private location in Brentwood, CA on January 10 and 11," according its PRNewswire announcement (printed here by Reuters).
The Secret Room sponsors handed out not only the standard jewelry, clothing and fragrance products, but also trips to resorts, cosmetic dental and surgery services, and even a year of free dining from one L.A. restaurant.
In addition, on-site services at The Secret Room included Botox, Restylane and massages provided by Bella of Beverly Hills, and lunchtime peels and Oxygen facials provided by The Treatment Room.
"Even though there's a writers' strike, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't be honoring actors for their accomplishments throughout the year," Gavin Keilly, a gift suite organizer, told the Associated Press.
Keilly, who operates GBK Productions, said that while some vendors were a bit uncomfortable, few of his clients canceled.
According to the New York Times, six companies (down from 10 last year) were still sponsoring gift events for the rich and the famous in conjunction with the Golden Globes.
"We were afraid no one was going to show up ... and we almost backed out, but it really paid off," said Cindy Lott, who was touting Xtreme Lashes eyelash extensions at another event in Beverly Hills. "There were more RSVPs because people aren't at their stylists."
What about the swag tax?
Is it because there's no consolidated, easy to evaluate gift bag to assess?
Or is it because the swag this year isn't being given out in conjunction with perceived services performed by the recipients?
When Uncle Sam cracked down on swag bags last year, blogged about last year in "IRS makes call on booty," the position was that the goodies were payments to presenters and performers for doing a job at the ceremony, ergo taxable.
But with no ceremony this year, I guess sponsors of The Secret Room and similar events are just handing out very nice gifts, not paychecks.