“I look like such a fucking whore,” said Joey “Pants” Pantoliano as he posed for photographers, holding his new Polaroid camera and flashing a Cheshire-Cat grin.
He was in a suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel that is set up every year by the magalog known as Lucky as a place for actors to pick up expensive shwag.
Over at a nearby booth, the actress Bridget Moynahan had helped herself to a necklace and several oversized cocktail rings from the Lia Sophia display.
“Hey Bridget,” Mr. Pantoliano called out. “Watch out getting photographed with that stuff. The IRS will come after you!”
“I know, right?” said Ms. Moynahan.
A helpful underling intervened. “You’re OK so long as it’s under $10,000,” she said.
Leaving the Lia Sophia counter, Ms. Monayhan, who stars in the upcoming J.J. Abrams show Six Degrees, made a confession.
“I kind of feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. I just don’t think I really deserve it.” Motioning to the gift-giver behind the counter, she added, “I kind of feel like I should take her out to dinner now.”
Most of the television stars who dropped by the “Lucky Club” used words like “odd,” “weird” and “bizarre” to describe the experience of shoveling piles of expensive consumer goods worth thousands and thousands of dollars out of the displays at the Lucky Club. For most, “lucky” was not the word of choice.
David Boreanaz, star of the Vampire-themed television show Angel:
“I got a few things that are nice and picked up a few things for my wife. It’s kind of weird, events like this. I don’t like to just take something to take something.”
But some of his acquisitions did serve higher purposes.
“I’ll use this,” he said, pointing to a military-style bag made by A. Kurtz, which retails at $180 (if you’re not in the Lucky Club, get one at the high-end boutique Kitson!)
He hastened to add, “There were a couple of things that they wanted me to wear that I wouldn’t wear, so I wouldn’t take them.”
Beggars can’t be choosers. But weirdly, it’s not the TV stars begging. It’s the product pushers.
“Do I have enough stuff on me?” asked Victor Garber, who plays agent Jack Bristow on Alias. He was weighed down by several bags, and wore a new pair of sunglasses perched on his head. (The local custom dictates that celebrities wear several of the items out of the suite with them.)
“This is right out of the Sopranos, isn’t it?” he said.
You mean the episode where Christopher Moltesanti goes to the swag suite at ShoWest and ends up clocking Lauren Bacall for her bag?
Or did he mean it the way Mr. Pantoliano did when he delivered his speech about Vertical Integration, in a pair of brand new jeans he’d just tried on?
“In yesterday’s paper they announced that Coca Cola and another big advertising conglomerate weren’t coming to the affiliates, because with the advent of Tivo, to get market-share value is to vertically integrate it within the product, like they do on the Sopranos.”
“Like when Annabella Sciorra was working at the dealership and then she killed herself at the Mercedes Benz dealership, sales went up 30 percent. Or you know how Mark Bennet does it on Survivor. They pay the producers for that pleasure. In network television, advertising as we know it will be nonexistent in 10 years. Soon you’ll be able to click on your television what I’m wearing, and you’ll get a description of what it is, where you can buy it, the sizes, the colors.”
At the moment, that was a pair of boot-cut Genetic Denims, available at high-end boutiques for $220.
“That’s the future. I got a new show called Waterfront with Billy Baldwin. I’m a producer on it and I’ve been talking about vertical integration now for three years. As advertisers like Coca Cola drop out, in television I could be drinking a can of Coca Cola. Tivo’s here to stay and I see my kids go right through the commercials now. These advertisers come because it works, if it didn’t work they wouldn’t show up.”
And while vertical integration and swag suites may indeed be the future, ample reason for the nervous embarrassment was to be found just one floor up, when the Transom encountered one of its heroes, Jackie Mason, in the lobby. Would he be venturing into the den of swag, we asked.
“My personal opinion is that if you’re a celebrity you shouldn’t be such a cheap bastard … walking around collecting things. If you’re not a celebrity it’s good, because if you have no money maybe you need it. But if you have enough money, why should you go around collecting things unless you’re a cheap bastard?
“You’re implying that I’m a cheap bastard and don’t think that I don’t resent it, he said. “If you make any money off this, I want a cut.”
– Spencer Morgan