This year’s Oscars ending with the most shocking moment in the 89-year history of the Academy Awards: Best Picture presenter Warren Beatty was given the wrong envelope and his co-presenter, Faye Dunaway, erroneously announced that “La La Land” had won, instead of “Moonlight.”
The Oscar-winning actress (“Network”) had presented on the Academy Awards twice before, handing out the Foreign Language Film award in 1985 and 1988. Third time did not prove to be the charm as she was reunited with her “Bonnie and Clyde” leading man on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of that landmark film.
Dunaway has broken her silence about the snafu in an in-depth conversation with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt. As she explained to Holt, she knew something was amiss soon after Beatty opened the envelope. “So he took the card out, and he didn’t say anything. He paused. He looked over me, offstage. He looked around. And I finally said, ‘You’re impossible.’ I thought he was joking.” At that point, she says, “I read the name of the film on the card.”
She regrets not having paid closer attention to all the text on the card: “I was very guilty. I thought, ‘I could have done something, surely. Why didn’t I see Emma Stone’s name on the top of the card?’” But she dismisses the notion that she was upset with how the academy handled the aftermath.
On March 29, academy president Cheryl Boone Issacs emailed members to let them know the measures that were being put in place to avoid such a mistake from happening again. One of the accountants will be PwC partner Rick Rosas who had led the ballot for 12 years until 2014. The other two scrutineers will be announced in the coming months.
Issacs also made mention of “partner rehearsals for possible onstage issues” (translation: the accountants will practice running out onstage to stop the show if the wrong name is announced). And she promised “improvements to onstage envelope category verification” (in other words, no more red envelopes with red writing). Finally, don’t expect any backstage tweets from the PwC reps, as Cullinan did of the Best Actress champ as Beatty and Dunaway were about to make the wrong kind of Oscar history; Issacs confirmed “removal of electronic devices from backstage.”