It was the final ten minutes of a lengthy but somewhat entertaining Oscars show. The stars of Bonnie and Clyde, 50 years later, are presenting Best Picture. We're staring at Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, trying to figure out how old they are (he's 79 and she's 76) and if they've had any work done (she looks a lot better than he does), and then it happened. As the inimitable Howard Cosell once quipped, “Who goofed? I've got to know.”
Moonlight took home the top Academy Award of the year, but not after one of the biggest bloopers in live television history. After the montage of the nominated films, and a drum roll, Beatty opened the envelope. He pulled out a card, that we all assumed had the winner on it, placed it in his other hand, then peaked in the envelope again as if there was another card in there. Dunaway is kind of chuckling, and we are all thinking, “What the hell is this guy doing?” He peaks in the empty envelope again. Beatty then announces, “The Academy Award”, pauses, “for Best Picture”, looks in the empty envelope again, rolls his eyes and looks at Dunaway. She mutters “You're awful” at Beatty, then he shows her the what we now know to be the wrong card. Dunaway looks at the card and blurts out “La La Land.”
People cheer, the band starts playing, the producer, director, and cast come on to the stage and the speeches begin. Producer Jordan Horowitz said his thank yous, and then after the second speaker started talking, things got even weirder. You would likely have to watch it again to notice, but if you do, there is a guy wearing a headset in the middle of the stage. By the time the third speaker begins, he is virtually the only one remaining who hasn't gotten the news. You can also see Best Actress winner Emma Stone mouthing “Oh my God.” Horowitz comes back up to the microphone and says, “There's a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture.” When no one came to the stage, Horowitz motioned them up, reiterating off-mic, “This is not a joke.” He then came to the microphone, said again “This is not a joke, Moonlight has won Best Picture.” Beatty now has the real card in his hand, and, as he's preparing to show it, Horowitz snatches it out of his hands and holds it up. The camera zooms in. And everyone now knows the mistake is real.
So? Back to the Cosell question. Who goofed? Well, Beatty knew something was wrong, but didn't know what to do. Dunaway blurted out La La Land, because the wrong envelope had that picture's name on it for Stone's award, but she didn't catch that in the moment. An accountant handed the presenters the wrong envelope, and show host Jimmy Kimmel, who said in his opening monologue that he'd probably screw things up, took responsibility even though he had nothing to do with it.
We don't expect actors to be producers, but Beatty knew something was wrong and could have said something. Dunaway told reporters at a party later that she (messed) up, but the accountants are taking the hit, and PriceWaterhouse Coopers has even identified the person at fault. PriceWaterhouse U-S President Tim Ryan named associate Brian Cullinan, telling Rolling Stone magazine and the rest of the media, "[Cullinan] feels very, very terrible and horrible. He is very upset about this mistake. And it is also my mistake, our mistake, and we all feel very bad.”
There are two sets of envelopes, with one person on with one set on each side of the stage. Cullinan must have lost focus and not put the Emma Stone card at the bottom of the pile, or whatever they do with it. Kimmel, who was part of every segment in the close to four hour show, handled the whole thing well, and perhaps saving the whole thing was Horowitz. After the mix-up, Kimmel suggested that both movies get Oscars, but Horowitz said it “I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight.”
Kimmel said it was just an awards show, and he's right, but what a weird awards show it was.
Who goofed? Part two: If you noticed the guy with the headset while you were watching live, then you would have likely been the only one to catch that they showed a picture of a live person during the 'In Memoriam' segment. Australian costume designer Janet Patterson did pass away this past year as the graphic said, but the picture was of Jan Chapman who is a producer. Chapman is alive and well and living down under.
Trump talk: While there was talk of diversity, a mention of no wall being needed, and a letter from the producer from Iran who won Best Foreign Film, but didn't attend as a protest to the travel ban, most of the Donald Trump comments were left to Kimmel's monologue. “This broadcast is being watched live by millions of Americans, and around the world in more than 225 countries that now hate us.”... “I want to say thank you to President Trump. I mean remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars were racist?”...”We are very welcoming to outsiders here in Hollywood. We don't discriminate against people based on what countries they come from. We discriminate against them based on their age and weight”... To 'overrated' Meryl Streep, “Nice dress, by the way. Is that an Ivanka?”... To all the nominees, “some of you will get to come up here on the stage tonight and give a speech that the President of the United States will tweet about in all caps during his 5am bowel movement tomorrow”... and later, recognizing comic book movies, “Doctor Strange was nominated for Outstanding Visual Effects, and was also named Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.”
Last laugh?: Donald Trump, in an interview today, blamed the Best Picture mixup on politics. "I think [the Oscars] were focused so hard on politics that they didn’t get the act together at the end. It was a little sad."
Oscar Tweets: I only follow a handful of people on Twitter, but my favorite comments... A Photoshopped picture of Harry Truman with a newspaper headline that says “La La Land Wins”, from former Gold Sox pitcher now ESPN broadcaster Dallas Braden, “That stage becomes a Geraldo Rivera talk show set if that happens in reverse order”... and a text from a friend of mine, “It was literally fake news.”
I can only wonder what my Uncle Marty would have thought of this. One of the things he did every year was host a small Oscar party in Burbank. He'd cook the dinner, his guests would keep track of their ballots, and the winner would go home with a basket of goodies. Uncle Marty passed away a month ago today. Watching this show was tough, and I didn't see any of the movies this year, but while I'm still having a very difficult time dealing with his passing, I know it's a thousand times worse for my cousins. I love you all.