Damian Cecere, an actor who lives in Los Angeles, plans to spend about $50 on a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for his agent this holiday season. That’s $50 more than he spent last year.
“Things are definitely on an upswing, but I’m not ready to splash out with the Cristal,” said Cecere, 36, who appeared in a Super Bowl Bud Light commercial and credits Matt Taylor of DDO Artists Agency for landing him the job.
Cecere said he’ll also cough up a buck or two on a bow. His gesture is part of rebound in year-end alcohol-giving, a Hollywood tradition that was crimped last year by the advertising slump and studio cutbacks. Growing film production and entertainment hiring are boosting sales at Los Angeles stores including Wally’s Wines & Spirits, K&L Wine Merchants and the Wine House.
“Last year, even if the budget was there, it didn’t look good to be spending money,” said Steve Wallace, owner of Wally’s, who estimated business is up 20 percent, though below pre-recession levels. “This year, everyone is feeling a little better.”
The uptick in sales reflects a rise in filming. Permits for on-location shooting climbed 11 percent this year through Oct. 12, headed for the biggest year-over-year increase since 2004, according to FilmLA Inc., which coordinates permits in the city. TV commercial production has surged 39 percent, poised for the biggest gain since FilmLA began compiling data in 1993.
The Bud Light ad, in which Cecere crashes his girlfriend’s book club to obtain his favorite brew, has netted the actor about $15,000 in residual payments. That’s about half what he earned from a television ad before the recession that began in December 2007, Cecere said.
“I made so little from acting last year I was sending out e-mails instead of gifts,” said Cecere, who also works as a deejay. “This year, I bounced back.”
Motion picture employment has risen 13 percent through October, to an average of 136,000, compared with 120,500 for all of 2009, according to Nancy Sidhu, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
Wally’s, which provided liquor for last month’s premiere of Sony Corp.’s “Burlesque,” according to Wallace, keeps a computer catalog of the favorite vintages of talent agents, managers and casting directors. Customers no longer shy away from Don Julio’s 1942 label tequila, at $125, or Dom Perignon’s $149 Andy Warhol Tribute champagne, or even an 1849 Chateau d’Yquem from Bordeaux, which Wallace said recently sold for $22,000.
Easy To Re-gift
Intoxicating beverages are standard holiday gifts in Hollywood, said David Boxerbaum, an agent with APA Talent & Literary Agency in Beverly Hills.
“Liquor is the easiest thing to give while still denoting class,” Boxerbaum said, adding that he has already received one bottle of Dom Perignon.
U.S. spirits sales rose 3.6 percent this year through Nov. 28, according to Symphony IRI Group, a Chicago-based market researcher. Wine sales are up 3.7 percent through Nov. 13, according to Nielsen Co.
Booze has a long shelf life, and recipients who don’t imbibe, or whose liquor cabinets are overflowing, can re-gift a fifth of single-malt Scotch whiskey with little guilt or chance of getting caught.
“I’m definitely seeing more gift bottles this year than last,” said independent agent Caroline Liem, former head of casting for “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC. She said she so enjoyed the bottle of Miro Petite Sirah an actor gave her that she purchased a case. “Gifts won’t guarantee you a role, but a thoughtful present can keep you on the radar.”
$15,000 Remy, Colt 45
To really make an impression, the ambitious can’t go wrong with Remy Martin’s century-old Louis XIII Rare Cask cognac, according to Larry Greifer, president of Los Angeles-based Luxury Management Group, an entertainment marketing and consulting company. One palladium-trimmed crystal bottle, which takes two weeks for Remy artisans to create, costs $15,000, less than 1 percent of what the Hollywood Reporter says Reese Witherspoon was paid for her role in “How Do You Know,” released this month by Sony Corp.
“That bottle will be on the bar forever, and your name will always come up,” Greifer said. “When you give a gift in entertainment, you are really representing yourself.”
Joel Rose’s agents shouldn’t expect the stand-up comedian to represent himself in any way that would set him back more than $10, the 32-year-old said.
“Things are looking up, but I want to maintain my salt of the earth, man from northern New Jersey image,” said Rose, a former lawyer who has performed at the Ice House and the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. “I’m giving Colt 45 and a pack of menthols this year.”