Oscars producer Michael De Luca praises Warren Beatty, likens Best Picture mix-up to Titanic

This was the first Oscars that Michael De Luca produced and it ended with the most memorable moment in the 89-year history of the Academy Awards: when Best Picture presenter Warren Beatty was given the wrong envelope and his co-presenter, Faye Dunaway, erroneously announced that “La La Land” had won.

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De Luca appeared on a recent edition of the KRCW radio show “The Business”  show to dish Sunday’s Oscars. “I actually think Warren Beatty is the unsung hero here, completely heroic. I think he was showing the card, like, ‘Hey, are you seeing what I’m seeing? I think a mistake’s been made here.'”

Regarding the ensuing chaos, De Luca and his producing partner Jennifer Todd were heartbroken that the the real winners were “robbed of their full moment in the sun” and equally sad for the losing team behind “La La Land.”

He readily admits that although this kind of mistake was discussed in production meeting, “even when someone brought up, ‘What if this happens?’ everyone’s like, ‘Don’t worry about it, they have protocols, it’s a foolproof system.'” As he wryly observes, “they said the same thing about the Titanic and icebergs.”

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Surprisingly, De Luca did not know that the PwC accountants Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz had memorized the winners of the two dozen categories. “I know I’m Monday-morning quarterbacking, which I detest, but I feel like if it’s my one job, if I heard the wrong name, I’d walk directly to Warren Beatty and say, ‘You got the wrong envelope, here’s the right envelope,’ and make a charming moment out of it.”

De Luca was heartened to hear from academy governor and Oscar champ Steven Spielberg, who called to say, “he watched the show and thought it was great.” For this first-time Oscarcast producer, it was “a real pep talk.”


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