Matilda To Get Heath's Oscar

If the late star wins his prize goes to his only daughter
Thursday , 19 February 2009
Matilda To Get Heath's Oscar

If the late, great HEATH LEDGER continues his awards sweep at Sunday's Academy Awards, his daughter, MATILDA, will take home the Oscar statuette.

But due to strict rules by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscar won't technically be hers until the 3-year-old turns 18 -- and even then, she must first sign a contract.

The academy admits that Ledger's nomination -- for his supporting role as the Joker in Dark Knight -- and daughter's young age has made preparations for his possible posthumous award the most difficult situation they've had to deal with.

"It's complicated, because there are two different questions that have to be answered," Bruce Davis, executive director of the academy, said to The Associated Press. "First, we have to decide who gets the job of accepting the award onstage on the night of the ceremony. And then there's the question of the eventual disposition of the posthumous statuette, which may not stay with the person who accepts it."

Typically, a posthumous statuette goes to the spouse, but because he and MICHELLE WILLIAMS were never married, it would go to the oldest child.

Because Matilda is too young to sign the winner's agreement -- a contract required of all nominees that says the recipient will not resell his or her Oscar without first offering it back to the academy -- Williams would serve as the legal custodian of the Oscar for the next 15 years, until Matilda turns 18.

"At that point, she may execute what we call an heir's agreement and keep the statuette forever -- or, if she chooses not to do that, it will return to us," Davis said.

The person who would accept the award on Ledger's behalf has been kept under wraps by the academy. Traditionally, such an Oscar acceptance would be by a close relative or an artist who was close to the nominee and can speak to the actor's talents. (Costar GARY OLDMAN, for instance, accepted Ledger's Screen Actors Guild award last month.)

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