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Oscar Odds

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," January 31, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Who will take home Oscars this year? Let's ask Johnny Avello, Wynn Las Vegas director of Race and Sports Operations who's also placing odds on this year's Oscar nominees.

Johnny, thanks a lot. Let's go to Best Picture first; we have a graphic of what you picked. You show "Brokeback Mountain" as a close favorite. Why do you think?

JOHNNY AVELLO, WYNN LAS VEGAS: Well, you know, remember that these odds are not something I just started by putting up this morning at 5:30. I have been working on these from back in October. "Brokeback" was my second choice at that time. "Munich" was the top choice. But "Brokeback" is, you know, it won the Golden Globe. It's had all the hype going for it and so it's an overwhelming favorite right now. It's going to be tough to beat. So don't bet against it or you might go broke.

GIBSON: What about the next closest one in that category, "Crash." It took another award recently that was very important. You have the odds kind of close. Could it go that way?

AVELLO: Well, I actually have it at four-to-one. It's the second choice. It did win the SAG award. It has multiple story lines, sends a good message. But we are talking Oscar now and not SAG which is, you know, we're not comparing the apples to apples here. It's really gained a lot of momentum over the last couple of weeks. It's going to be hard to overtake "Brokeback."

GIBSON: Let's go to Best Director because I think "Brokeback's" director Ang Lee is in here too and you put him at the favorite.

AVELLO: It kind of goes hand-in-hand. "Brokeback" wins and Ang Lee wins. I have him at two-to-five. You know, he won the Directors Guild and if you go back over to Directors Guild which is about 50 or 60 years, 90 percent of those winners have gone on to win Oscars. That's a pretty high percentage so he is one of my strongest favorites on the board for this year's, all the nominees for this year.

GIBSON: For Best Actor you pick as the favorite not "Brokeback" but Philip Seymour Hoffman for "Capote." Why?

AVELLO: I like Capote.

GIBSON: I think that's a dish.

AVELLO: Tremendous performance and, you know, if you look at the group behind him, Heath Ledger, Joaquin Phoenix, David Strathairn and Terrence Howard, I though it was a surprise nod Tuesday morning. Nobody is even close. I have him at one-to-two. I think he is pretty much a slam dunk here and he's won everything up to this point.

GIBSON: And Best Actress it looks like.

AVELLO: It looks close.

GIBSON: Why do you pick Reese?

AVELLO: I have Reese on top at seven-to-five, followed by Felicity Huffman at nine-to-five. The transformation, you know, of sex and then as far as Reese goes, you know, we are talking about a performance in singing which is probably 50 percent of her acting. So this is very close. I can see this one going either way but Reese is the slight favorite going in.

GIBSON: Johnny Avello, Wynn Las Vegas director of Race and Sports Operations, set these odds for us and, of course, that is for your fun at home unless you are in Vegas so we don't mean to imply that anybody should make any bets on the actual Oscars.

Johnny, thanks a lot. Appreciate it and we'll see how your results work out.

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