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Motorola’s Rizr shut out of red carpet debut

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences-the long-winded powerhouse behind the Oscars-put one of its legal guns to use last week to dispel reports about nominees receiving Motorola Inc.’s Rizr Z3 handset as part of the device’s debut on Hollywood’s most glamorous night.
What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Well, in this case it appears the chicken took the lead. Motorola distributed a news release on Feb. 2 that touted the device’s arrival and its plans to put the cellphone in the hands of the top 25 nominees in the directing and four acting categories on Oscar night. Only one problem: Motorola apparently never informed the Academy of its plans. Crazier things have happened in Tinseltown, but it’s quite a notable snafu nonetheless.
While the cellphone manufacturer has long provided its products gratis to be included in the coveted gift bags that were well established as early as the 1970s, it seems Motorola didn’t get the memo last April when the Academy’s board of directors voted to discontinue the practice of thanking presenters and performers with gift bags due to the increasingly complex tax obligations it presented. The Academy has never given gift bags to nominees.
“Over time the thank-you gifts became more elaborate as hotels, resorts and high-end clothing lines vied to associate their services and products with Hollywood’s most famous names,” the Academy said in a release last summer.
But with all the considerable hype that grew around the device’s alleged debut at last Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, Scott Miller, assistant general counsel with the Academy, had to pen a letter to Motorola and numerous news organizations early last week to clarify the Academy’s position.
“Motorola is neither an official Academy sponsor nor provider, nor will a nominee even be allowed to carry this type of phone at the Academy Awards (guests are not allowed to bring cameras, including phones with a camera feature),” Miller wrote.
The Academy declined to elaborate on how exactly it would keep Hollywood’s elite from bringing camera-equipped phones to the event other than nicely asking them not to do so. “As part of security procedures, when guests arrive, if they are carrying cameraphones they will be asked to not bring them in,” said Leslie Unger, publicity coordinator with the Academy. “Guests of any type will not be allowed to carry camera-capable phones” inside the event.
The policy is nothing new, Unger added. “There are specific policies about what we permit people at the venue and working on the show to do if they happen to carry cellphones that have camera capability, but there is not a ban on those devices” for people working at the Oscars, she said. “There is a separate policy that applies to people working at the show.”
Motorola declined repeated requests for comment via telephone and e-mail and as of press time had not yet corrected its original announcement about the Rizr Z3’s “red carpet debut.”


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