And the Oscar goes to…

Published: March 6, 2017

By Jim Lichtman
Read More

Like the many millions around the world who tuned in to watch the Oscar telecast (Feb. 26), I was stunned by the final piece of drama that played out on stage.


By now, most everyone knows what happened when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the award for Best Picture. The audience was squirming in their seats waiting for Beatty to announce the winner. He checks the inside of the envelope, looks perplexed, ultimately handing the card to Dunaway who announced, “…‘La La Land’!”

The producers and cast of the film bounded onto the stage and, beginning with producer Jordan Horowitz, begin their litany of “thank yous.”

At that same moment, backstage, panic gripped the two PricewaterhouseCoopers representatives Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, the accounting officials not only charged with counting the ballots, but responsible for handing-out the right envelopes to the right presenters just before they walk on stage.

It was later revealed that two sets of envelopes were taken to the Oscar ceremony. Ruiz and Cullinan stand on opposite sides of the stage in order to accommodate whichever entrance is used by presenters. It appears that Cullinan mistakenly gave Beatty the envelope marked “Best Actress” instead of the one labeled “Best Picture.” This is what led to Beatty’s confused looks.

It took several minutes before Cullinan and a stage manager to run out on stage and explain the error – not to the audience – but the cast and producers of “La La Land.”

Hey, mistakes happen, and it’s not as if someone was pushing the wrong button at the stock market or missile launch. It’s an awards show, people!

However, the real story was “La La Land” producer Horowitz, who, once he was told of the error, quickly rushed back to the mic.

“Guys, guys, I’m sorry. No. There’s a mistake. “ ‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture.”

“This is not a joke,” Horowitz added.

Once the correct envelope was placed in Beatty’s hand and opened, Horowitz grabbed the real card, held it up and repeated, “ ‘Moonlight,’ Best Picture!”

Oscar Host Jimmy Kimmel tried to make a joke of the whole thing, but Horowitz wasn’t going along with it.

“I’m going to be really thrilled to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight,’ ” Horowitz said.

Just before Horowitz handed the Oscar to “Moonlight” Director Barry Jenkins, he gave him a bear hug and congratulated him.

The next day, the Twittersphere lit up with admiring messages:

“You are a real class act,” Actress Jessica Chastain wrote.

Screenwriter Justin Marks: “[Jordan Horowitz] handled that with class, grace, and genuine happiness for the winner is why he is at the pinnacle of the game.”

As Washington Post reporters, Stephanie Merry and Lindsey Bever, noted, “…what he did wasn’t exactly revolutionary. He told the truth even though it was difficult and awkward and embarrassing, because he had just stood in front of the world and thanked his friends and family for an award that wasn’t his.

“Horowitz could have slunk offstage and let Kimmel and Warren Beatty continue to fumble through an explanation.

“Instead he did the dirty work with what looked like pride, sticking around to hug his friends from ‘Moonlight.’ ”

Mistakes happen.

How you handle them often reveal character.


Leave a Comment

Read More Articles
The Latest... And Sometimes Greatest
We Need the Strength of Heroes
The Date: September 28, 1955 The Place: Yankee Stadium The Event: Dodgers/Yankees, Game 1 of the 1955 World Series Every baseball fan has seen the...
April 19, 2024
A Time of Troubles, A Time of Opportunities
It’s getting harder and harder to see the light at the end of a dark, relentless tunnel of anger and war at home and abroad....
April 16, 2024
Conscience of the Senate
Continued from Tuesday’s commentary, I offer two Senate leaders from the past. Tuesday, I spoke of the integrity of Republican John Williams. Today, I offer...
April 12, 2024
A Long Time Ago in a Washington Far, Far Away. . .
. . . two U.S. Senators, one Republican, one Democrat, showed us the meaning of duty and character. Republican John Williams, a chicken farmer and...
April 9, 2024
This is The America I Know
We Americans have many grave problems to solve, many threatening evils to fight, and many deeds to do, if, as we hope and believe, we...
April 5, 2024
We Need Moments Like This
Embed from Getty Images Let’s face it, we’re a mess. We’re living moment to moment, crisis to crisis at home and abroad. Every time you...
April 2, 2024