Yes, this story has already been done to death across all media outlets, but you know as a longtime obsessed fan (from the age of seven on!) of Faye Dunaway I just had to weigh in myself! In recent years, I have become less and less invested in the annual Academy Award ceremony to the point where I hadn't even intended to watch it live this year and was going to be content with visiting my DVR the following day and skimming through it all. Then came the announcement that the final award of the night, Best Picture, was going to be presented by Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of their famous movie Bonnie and Clyde (1967.) Well, there was no way I was going to miss that!
I recorded the pre-show, which began at 7:00pm and then the broadcast, but didn't even turn on a smidge of it until after 9:00 because I knew I was going to be fast-forwarding through a lot of the inane antics of the red carpet interviewers and commercials, commercials, commercials. The ceremony dragged on and on and on and I finally caught up with the live show only to have my DVR run out (which even included a half-hour extension!) Frantically, I darted to ABC in time for them to announce the appearance of Warren and Faye. I'd been on pins and needles over how Faye would look because there have been a few unfortunate public appearances as of late (the photos are out there) and I was terrified of a major fashion or styling misstep.
I needn't have worried. She had gotten a much- needed, highly flattering haircut, was dressed in an appropriate, clean, but not matronly, gown and was wearing some lovely understated jewelry. I am probably reaching, but it even seemed like the open button detailing on her gown was a bit of a nod to the distressed, bullet-ridden clothing of Bonnie Parker. It was terrific to see the twosome, and they were rewarded with a deserved standing ovation, even if their stroll to the stage was a bit tentative and wobbly in itself. However, there was still a bloodbath to come that would rival the one that their cinematic namesakes endured half a century ago!
As Warren went to announce the winner of Best Picture, the top prize that any filmmaker in the world can hope to achieve, he hesitated. He became speechless, befuddled, confused and left everyone hanging in awkwardness as he fidgeted around with the envelope. Faye finally began to gently chide him for waiting to speak the winner's name. With that, he still said nothing and merely placed the card in front of her seventy-six year-old eyes whereupon she, desperate to relieve the tension in the room, spotted the words "La La Land" and announced it as the winner. The ecstatic producers made their way to the stage and began to give acceptance speeches they'd likely been mentally preparing for since the nominations were announced.
Trouble is, as you can see in the above photo if you enlarge it, one of the Price-Waterhouse accountants had given Warren the wrong envelope! It was a duplicate, secondary envelope for Actress in a Leading Role! That award had been given to Emma Stone of La La Land (2016), but some dunderhead backstage didn't seem to notice that he/she still had two envelopes left, the ones for Best Picture, though the ceremony had finally reached its conclusion! A melee began on stage and it was all finally revealed as the third producer was giving his speech. Moonlight (2016) was the actual winner! I know that instantly dethroned producer Jordan Horowitz was working off adrenaline and stress, but I've never seen anyone rip something out of another person's hand the way he yanked the real card out of Warren's (who was finally about to head to the mic to explain the snafu.) You can see here how inexplicably teensy the writing is for the category on the card. At the very bottom, in italics, is says Best Picture. Why? Why is it so, so, so small?
In any case, the hand-off from the La La Land folks to the Moonlight folks was done with admirable deference and sportsmanship, but - let's face it - the moment was spoiled and the momentum seriously hobbled by this error. There is plenty of blame to pass around. Faye just blurting out the name without really reading the card (but by then she, like everyone, just wanted to know who in the hell the winner was!), Warren for stubbornly fumbling around and refusing to call someone over - even Jimmy Kimmel fer cryin' out loud - to check things out and the accounting employee who had one duty to perform and botched it. But the biggest issue for me was how no one fixed this glaring error until the "winners" had hugged their loved ones, proceeded up the aisle and onto the stage and had nearly finished their speeches!! The accountants, regardless of the envelopes, are also supposed to have the winners memorized. This was the best anyone could do?!?
Something like this happened to me once. (Yes, I realize it wasn't an OSCAR, but where I live, you strive for any crumb you can gather! LOL) I had performed in a production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as Brick Pollitt. From the start, I'd felt I ought to be Gooper, the characterization I felt most comfortable in, but the director never saw me as anyone but Brick. So it was quite a thrill to perform the role and be granted an award for Excellence in Acting by a local organization.
Thing was, a couple of months later we took a segment of the show (Big Daddy and Brick's confrontation scene) to a state-wide competition. The day of the excerpt, I tore my toe open on some stairs right before going on (on the foot that DIDN'T have a cast on it!) During the performance, as planned, my crutch gave way and I fell to the floor. Unplanned was the fact that my highball glass burst into pieces! So by the time the 30-minute segment was up, I'd churned my guts up in all the emotion and, literally, given blood, sweat and tears to the performance. Come the awards ceremony and the long, long night wears on and when the certificates have all been called, I am empty-handed. Not that I had been going in expecting to be awarded, but the response to my work had been so overwhelming that it did sting that I got no recognition at all. But, you see, something was amiss... One of the wives of the adjudicators happened to spot me at my table (and, no, I was not pig-squealing or throwing things - LOL!) and whispered to her husband that I hadn't been called up. Turns out that because my last name is near the end of the alphabet, my award was the last one on a long list and also had bumped to the final page of a print-out, which someone left on the printer, thinking it was blank!! So I DID win a Merit in Acting award. But the ceremony was over. They wanted to just hand it to me, but then my pettiness did finally kick in and, inspired by the second ceremony that had occurred recently for the Olympic Figure Skating Pairs when judging bias had resulted in an incorrect winner, I insisted on an announcement and presentation all my own! Hey, these things don't happen every day and I wanted it to be known that I won something...
But, anyway, in all this crazy Oscar hubbub, there have been many articles, news stories, blog posts and even videos which break it all down and focus on various moments in time. Yet, even with all this, I have yet to see anyone other than myself zero in on the hilarious moment when Horowitz, trying to convince the Moonlight people that they weren't being Punk'd, blurted out, "They read the wrong thing!" and the camera briefly caught a glimpse of Dunaway whirling around and sending him a patented Mommie Dearest death glare that would have brought the red juice up out of Tina's prime rib in a heartbeat! True, what she read was wrong, but she knew she didn't just conjure up the words "La La Land" out of "Moonlight." It was my favorite moment of the night. And, in true Miss D. fashion, she was the dead last person from the considerable gaggle to leave the stage (and the cameras) when the whole debacle was at last coming to its conclusion!
"To Jon-I really enjoyed your blog! Love Joan" -- Dame Joan Collins (via autographed menu supplied by a mutual friend!) Photos of Menu & Joan
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"Oh, and for those who are looking for fascinating, funny, often outré online reading about vintage, sometimes obscure, movies, TV shows and stars, try the blog, “Poseidon’s Underworld.” You’ll find everything from detailed and witty biographies to posts on how stars wore their clothes — or didn’t — as each show biz decade constricted or loosened up. Heavily illustrated and highly informative". - Liz Smith - Liz Smith - newyorksocialdiary.com
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