Feb. 21, 2014 at 9:26 AM ET
In Hollywood, three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep holds a certain godlike status: She's revered by audiences, critics and her peers for her versatility, talent and deftness with an accent. A new study by Slate bears that out, literally: Streep has been thanked more times than God in actors' Oscar speeches over the past 12 years.
According to Slate, during that time period, 47 actors gave acceptance speeches of varying lengths during the annual ceremony, noting that Morgan Freeman's was 32 seconds long, while Halle Berry's was 4.5 minutes. But the old adage that everyone thanks mom and God during their brief time on stage is apparently not quite true: In those 47 speeches, Streep got four direct thanks, God just three. (Third place was a tie between Oprah Winfrey and Sidney Poitier.)
That said, as the Slate article noted, "It's not that God is never mentioned: Denzel Washington started with 'God is great,' and Jennifer Hudson claimed, 'Look what God can do!' ... There’s a reason for this notable lack of the divine, and it isn't the absence of religious faith. It's just that to actors, the director is God."
The subject was the source of some amusement on TODAY Friday. Quipped Savannah Guthrie, "God could not be reached for comment."
This year's Academy Awards will air on ABC on March 2 at 7 p.m. ET.