Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bonnie and Clyde Stole My Oscar?!

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!


Gingerguy said...

Poseidon, I am glad to hear your take on this. I thought exactly the same thing about Faye's part in it. Your eye would immediately go to the movie title in a moment of tension like that. I read somewhere that Warren carried the card around with him all night (the myths and legands start quickly) as proof that he hadn't flubbed anything. It's a gaffe for the ages but didn't have anything to do with the two old timers. The photo montage of her glare is hilarious. Your own experience sounds vexing, and I would surely have followed up in the same fashion. I am shy and just stay off stages!

Ken Anderson said...

Your take and recounting of the Bonnie & Clyde massacre Is the best and most enjoyable of the many out there. I of course love that you took note of Faye's reaction to hearing that SHE may have done something wrong (she's looking more Dr. Joyce Brothers each time I see her) and in all the huge disaster of it all gave everyone something to talk about beside halle Berry's wig.
Your own tale of Award angst is really one for the ages and a perfect personal capper to the larger than life Faye & Warren show (forever locked in my mind now as the George & Gracie of my generation).
Thanks for a hilarious recap of the highlight of a loooong evening. And special tanks for that pic of Warren and Faye with the winners. I hadn't seen that one before. By the way, I know it's way too late, but congratulations on your "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" win!

Poseidon3 said...

Hi guys! Thanks for your comments and reflections on "envelopegate!"

Gingerguy, I really want a .gif of Faye turning and glaring. It was just an instant as the camera then moved on, but I loved catching it!

Ken thank Jesus I wasn't drinking anything when I read "Dr. Joyce Brothers!" I love the pic of them with the winners, too, but I can't help detecting some strain behind Faye's eyes in it, as if she's still wondering how it all went wrong and what the fallout might be. One interesting thing, though. Barry Jenkins won an Oscar for his screenplay and gave a speech. Then, when this snafu happened, he came up and gave ANOTHER speech rather than let these two producers speak?? Or did I tune out by then and they also spoke? I feel like the one guy was afforded a quick thanks and nothing else. The whole thing was just a fiasco. And thank you for your congrats about "Cat." It's never too late!!! LOL

George W. Tush said...

Thank you for those amusing screen caps of Miss Dunaway's moment of pique. Mr. Horowitz is oh so lucky that there were 3400 witnesses in the Dolby Theater and 34 million viewers around the world. How many onlookers does it take to compel Faye Dunaway to hold her famous tongue? We now have the answer. In excess of 34 million. Without them, it all could have ended differently.

When Miss Dunaway decided, inexplicably, to wear earrings that look like little wire hangers, the fate of the lot of them was sealed.

Again, thank you!

Poseidon3 said...

"When Miss Dunaway decided, inexplicably, to wear earrings that look like little wire hangers, the fate of the lot of them was sealed."

Now THAT is funny...! They almost look like wire hangers that have been tugged in the middle, like we used to do to slip them through the top of a car window and open the lock with them when we locked the car with our keys still in! LOL Maybe she and "Clyde" were breaking and entering earlier in the night. (And now I wish I'd have title this "Bonnie and Clod" after watching more of Warren's bumbling around prior the incorrect announcement.)

Rick Gould said...

Poseidon, Thanks for the blow by blow take-down of the "wrong winner" saga.

I too, am no longer one of Oscar's "faaaaaans!" I've been just checking out the highlights that interest me the next day in a matter of minutes instead of suffering for hours : )

I love everything you said about Faye and I'm sure this will be added to that ever-increasing list of things she doesn't want to talk about!


Poseidon3 said...

Thanks, Rick! Glad you enjoyed this. How rotten that her return to the Oscars after many years of not presenting was messed up.

One thing I totally forgot to mention in this post, but meant to, was that one year the Academy (or, rather, the producers of the broadcast) brought back Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor - stars of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" - to present together! That went a hell of a lot better than this did and got me hoping for more couples reunions in the future (which really didn't happen much... Prior to that James Stewart and Kim Novak had also been reunited as well as the delightful time Fred and Ginger were paired again! That was really fun.)

Musicals. Rock. said...

As a fan of Musicals I did root for La La Land, but Moonlight was the better film. The best film of the year? That’s up for discussion but I think they made the correct choice out of the nominees.
But in the name of all things holy, that blunder was unforgivable. I actually don’t blame Warren Beatty and Faye Dunway. They could hardly have done anything else, though I kinda feel annoyed at the way Beatty pushed the envelope and responsibility to Dunway.
Mistakes do happen and i think the real issue is why they didn’t correct it sooner. Like the accountants and the responsible parties must have realized what was wrong the second they Heard ‘La la land’ and we’ll probably never know why there was a delay.
Okay my second grievance is how it was left to the producers of La La Land and the actors to announce the mistake and invite the moonlight team on stage. Jordan Hurwitz was humble and gentlemanly.
I guess this really is the worst mix up in Oscar history!
Here’s to the fool’s who dream of making more and more great musicals in the coming years! At least La La Land rekindled the trend again. With Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins and Wicked to look forward to I think we’re good.

Poseidon3 said...

Musicals.Rock, thanks for sharing your take on the whole melee. You are SO right on both counts, the horrid delay in catching the error and the horrible way it was (not) handled once it was caught. Just unreal...