Small Business Can Win at the Oscars

CHICAGO (TheStreet) -- The Academy Awards this Sunday may be the ultimate Hollywood blockbuster. Despite the acclaim for relatively small-budget films such as The King's Speech and Black Swan, it's a celebration of the multibillion-dollar U.S. entertainment industry, played out on a global stage.

Everything about the Oscars is supersized. At a time when television audiences have gotten more and more fragmented, it remains one of the few events capable of pulling in a huge audience (last year, 42 million people watched in the U.S. alone, with hundreds of millions more tuning in overseas).

Then there's the star wattage of the nominees and presenters. The people strolling glamorously across the stage include some of the best-paid entertainers in the country, representing mini-industries in themselves. (Johnny Depp, according to a recent Vanity Fair roundup of the highest-paid celebs, earned $100 million last year).

Add to that the designer gowns and diamond jewelry, and you've got a lavish celebration that seems far removed from the average American -- and to be honest, that's part of the fun of watching. But hidden behind the scenes are success stories that don't play out on stage.

These small-business Oscar winners don't get to make acceptance speeches or see their photos in People. But they're proof that even the biggest events provide opportunities for creative, talented entrepreneurs.

Here are some awards that deserve to be celebrated on Oscar night:

Best statuette: R.S. Owens

For more than 25 years, the iconic gold Oscars have been made by this Chicago-based company, which manufactures custom awards for a variety of clients. The Oscars are produced at R.S. Owens' factory, then sent to California under tight security (in 2000, the Oscar shipment was stolen; all but three statuettes were recovered). The company also makes plaques in each nominee's name; the appropriate one is attached after the ceremony.

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