HOLLYWOOD TURNS TO INSURERS FOR THE OSCARS CEREMONY

HOLLYWOOD TURNS TO INSURERS FOR THE OSCARS CEREMONY

Even the tinseled world of Hollywood has to think about insurance coverage sometimes.

The producers of the 60th annual Academy Awards, scheduled for broadcast before millions of television viewers tonight, have paid between $100,000 to $200,000 for event cancellation insurance.The policy is designed to insure that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is compensated if the Oscar ceremony, or its broadcast on television, is cancelled or postponed for any reason outside the academy's control.

It's a volatile time. Especially with the Democratic convention coming up and politicians running around the country. And what's happening in Israel, said LeConte Moore, a vice president of Marsh & McLennan Cos., an international brokerage firm based in New York.

It (policy) will cover anything outside the academy's control. An earthquake, rain, flash flood, said Mr. Moore, who works in the brokerage firm's entertainment division. He added that even a terrorist attack that disrupts the production would be covered.

He said the academy did not have event cancellation insurance in 1981, when an assassination attempt was made on President Reagan in Washington and the Oscar ceremony was postponed for 24 hours.

The coverage is being underwritten by Chubb Custom Market, a subsidiary of The Chubb Corp., based in Warren, N.J.

Under the policy terms, Chubb would reimburse the academy for the costs associated with staging the elaborate event - such as renting the theater, labor costs, housing and food expenses for the performers and limousine and air fare bills. The costs associated with rescheduling the ceremony are also covered. The event is scheduled to last three hours and to include 300 performers involved in four production numbers.

Mr. Moore would not specify the coverage limits, but said the insurance equals the cost of producing a major motion picture, which he estimated at between $10 million and $20 million. He said that the premium totals about 1 percent of the total coverage.

Vicki Sternfeld, an assistant vice president with the Marsh & McLennan's Los Angeles office, said the premium totaled about $100,000.

A spokesman for Capital Cities/ABC Inc., which has purchased the rights to broadcast the event, would not disclose the price of the television contract.

Otto Spoerri, the academy's controller, also declined to comment about the academy's insurance coverage or the contract with ABC.

Officials in the entertainment/media department at Chubb Custom Market also declined to specify the coverage limits.

This year, the awards are being staged in the 5,800-seat Shrine Civic Auditorium, located about five miles outside downtown Los Angeles.

Mr. Moore said he did not know what insurance coverage the academy had arranged for the 13 1/2-inch Oscar statues, which are made of britannia metal, an alloy that contains 90 percent tin.

A spokesman for the academy said he believes the academy's property insurance policy would cover the approximately 40 statues, which are given to winners in the 22 categories.

We have lots of security people. Four hundred of them. And the statues are carefully delivered to the auditorium, said Robert Werden.

The property insurance policy would cover the Oscars, as well as the elaborate props and costumes, against loss or damage for a wide range of specified perils, including fire, theft and vandalism.

The academy's general commercial liability policy, which is underwritten by American International Group, New York, will cover any liability losses that occur during the event, Mr. Moore said. He did not specify the policy limits.

If Glenn Close is sitting in the front row and a part of the production falls on her and puts her eye out, then the liability insurance would cover the academy, he added. It's volatile with so many famous people gathered in the same place in the same time. These are high earners. If they're hurt or injured, they could collect more than you or I.

Marsh and McLennan did not arrange for kidnap and ransom coverage, and Mr. Moore said he doubts the academy bought this type of coverage. He said if an individual was at risk, he or his employer would purchase the coverage.

Since the production relies on 42 actors and actresses to present the awards, the academy didn't purchase non-appearance coverage, which would provide compensation if an insured star failed to show for the event, he added.