career

Does an Oscar mean more money for actors?

Yoffe is the former president of the nonprofit CineWomen L.A. and current head of the True Studio Media production company, which produced the award-winning "My Big Break," a documentary on the significant effects gaining and losing fame can have on a young actor. She says major awards in themselves have become less about recognition of a stellar performance and more about adding to the coffers of the industry.

"The search for more money for studios and actors in a shrinking box office is the main reason why the Oscars increased the number of films in contention," she says. "More people will pay to see more Academy Award-nominated films, which means more revenue for Hollywood."

Yoffe says talented actors sometimes will sign up for a low-budget "indie" film if they think they can showcase their talents well enough, but it usually comes back to the money before the quality of the role.

"Johnny Depp was once the icon for aspiring actors who wanted to only do their work for 'the art,'" she says, "But as you see, even Depp finally succumbed to big, big bucks when he got used to the lifestyle."

Ahoy, terrible reviews.

An Oscar is the most valuable of the four major entertainment awards in terms of subsequent roles and income, Yoffe says. A Tony tends to be the least, though many actors are drawn to Broadway to "show their chops." She says it is generally a good career move, though the "star" types tend to struggle on stage, citing Julia Roberts' presence compared to a lamp post in the production "Three Days of Rain."

Then there's the EGOT, which sounds like the name of a giant, wish-granting bird and may be about as rare in the entertainment industry. Only 10 celebrities have reached EGOT status (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony wins) in competitive categories, not counting Tracy Jordan in TV's "30 Rock." One need look no further than the most recent member in this exclusive club to realize the "club" is more like an abandoned casting warehouse.

Whoopi Goldberg had received plenty of attention for her role in "The Color Purple," but it was her turn in "Ghost" in 1990 that won her the prestigious Oscar. In 2002, she rounded out her EGOT with Emmy and Tony wins. Prestigious roles would seem inevitable, but just a few years removed from her celebrated "Ghost" performance, Goldberg agreed to star in what must have seemed like a box office sure thing in the mid-90s. It was the role of a tough cop teaming with a talking dinosaur to stop a dino-killer and avert Armageddon. She came to her senses, but it would take a lawsuit and $7 million to keep Goldberg from backing out of the role. Theodore Rex would go on to blow $33.5 million in what was the most expensive direct-to-video title at the time. Goldberg's latest sister act is as a regular fixture on "The View," with an estimated salary of $2 million to $4 million.

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