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.”
This Oscar-winning director (“Reds”) had presented on the Academy Awards three times in the past, including twice when he handed out the Best Picture prize. He flew solo in 1974 when the winner was “The Godfather, Part II” and presented with his pal Jack Nicholson in 1989 when “Driving Miss Daisy” won. Third time did not prove to be the charm as he was reunited with his “Bonnie and Clyde” leading lady on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of that landmark film.
Beatty appeared on “The Graham Norton Show” over the weekend and made merry with the mishap. After Norton characterized this snafu as “the TV moment of if not the year, the decade,” Beatty wondered if it did not qualify rather for an even higher status by asking “not the century?”
As he explained to Norton, he knew something was amiss the moment he opened the envelope and saw that it said Best Actress: Emma Stone, “La La Land.” “I thought well, maybe this is a misprint. And then, I shouldn’t foul up the show just because someone made a little error.” Beatty quickly refuted the suggestion that he had wanted Dunaway to read off this text so that he wouldn’t be the fall guy.
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.”