Sometimes you need to take a break from news of rebellion, pandemic, economic devastation, and climate collapse to take a deep dive into a 3 year old oral history of a 4 year old Academy Awards broadcast. If you love a good autopsy of catastrophe and backstage drama fascinates you then you really can't do much better than this.
It's about 50-50 whether I watch the Oscars in a given year but I definitely remember being tuned in during the 2017 broadcast when La La Land was announced by Faye Dunaway after a long and confused pause by Warren Beatty. The La La Land team went on stage, there were cheers and tears, they had statues in hand and then.... everything descended into chaos as the show producers realized the wrong title had been announced and the rightful winners, from Moonlight, were brought on stage to take their rightful awards. It was a clusterf*&k of the highest order and you have to wonder how the Academy, who'd been doing this for damn near a century could have screwed up the pinnacle of their biggest event of the year in front of a global audience?
Glad you asked. Read this for the nitty gritty (it's great and has comments from Steve Harvey who felt an immense amount of relief watching the whole thing go down because it meant there was an ever bigger and more public announcing-the-wrong-winner blunder out there to take the heat off of him for his own hosting fiasco at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant.
The article is great for all of the minutiae it reveals about how the Oscars broadcast is run backstage and what a giant room full of Hollywood egos will do when someone had messed up BAD and no one wants to be blamed for it. But if you want to just cut to the chase then fine, I'll tell you: One of the agents for Price Waterhouse Cooper (the firm that has guaranteed the accuracy/secrecy/integrity of the Oscar balloting for decades) was too busy taking pics of Emma Stone backstage to realize that he'd handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty. You KNOW he felt stupid and ashamed (he also got death threats but that's a different story).
My fav line was this from Steve Harvey talking about whatever vitriol that guy had to endure being nothing compared to what he faced after Miss Universe:
HARVEY Oh nah, the dude at Pricewaterhouse — he ain't endured nothing. See, the mistake I made was against a country named Colombia. They have some people down there — they are in a different business — so when you get threats, you gotta take it a little bit differently.