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Guest Blogger: The secrets behind winning an Oscar

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Photo of Reba Merrill courtesy Studio 10 Online

Photo of Reba Merrill courtesy Studio 10 Online

You might be surprised to know that to win an Oscar takes much more than talent. It takes a strategic campaign. Let me translate.  Outrageous budgets go towards lavish lunch and dinner parties to win the favor of Oscar voters.  Big publicity budgets go towards new 30 second TV spots, and self-congratulatory magazine and newspaper ads.  Does this sound familiar? Could it be that the studios are running a political campaign? Why all the hoopla?  Well, every Oscar win is money in the pockets of the releasing studio and let’s face it, money is king.

The best-kept secret of an Oscar campaign is that competing studios try to destroy the competition anonymously.  The cleverest publicist who operates like a seasoned campaign manager will plant stories which ever so subtly throw shade over the successes of competing films.  For example in a Huffington Post article about “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” Leonardo DiCaprio is defending the movie for condoning the excessive behavior it depicts, instead of raving about how great it was to participate in the film.  Bringing these subtle details about the film to light can make an Oscar voter take a second look, which may in turn change their vote.

The moral of this story is you can’t just make a great film and expect it to win on its own merits, you have to spend the money, use the publicity machine and plant subliminal messages that will put the golden man in your hand.

Reba Merrill is an Oscar voter, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who spent over 20 years in the publicity trenches. In her recently released memoir, “Nearly Famous, Secrets, Lies and Addiction,” Reba pulls no punches about the hidden side of Hollywood.   More on Reba and her memoir at
Book cover "Nearly Famous: secrets, lies, and additions"

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