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Bizarre Oscars moment captured on live TV

  • Written by Joe Boyle

And the winner is…

I guess next year the Oscars will make sure those envelopes have the right winners. Either that or if the presenters think something is not right, they should speak up. Steve Harvey must be breathing a sigh of relief. He was nowhere near the Oscars. You can’t blame this one on him. If you missed it, a somewhat confused Warren Beatty, joined by Faye Dunaway, announced that “La La Land” was the Best Picture.

Since “La La Land” had won a lot of major awards, it was not surprising that they would also win Best Picture. As the producers and the writers of the movie droned on about the honor, someone was scurrying around in the background.

Suddenly, someone from La La Land said there has been a mistake. In the next instance, he said “Moonlight” won the Best Picture award.

I was just ready to use my remote to change the channel. I’m glad I waited a couple of minutes. This was live and strange television. Beatty kept stammering about what happened. He opened the letter and he saw Emma Stone’s name on it, one of the stars of “La La Land.”

So then you kind of have this surreal image in which someone presents the Oscar to the stunned crew of “Moonlight.” It was quite crowded on the stage. Finally, members of La La Land drifted off stage to make way for the technical crew and performers from “Moonlight.”

That had to be the weirdest thing I have ever seen at the Oscars. What a strange way to end the evening that again went on too long. Host Jimmy Kimmel did a good job of making jokes that did not really offend anyone. But he was also stunned at the end of the night. He did his best to use some humor to conclude the evening, blaming himself and stating that he won’t be asked back again.

Actually, Kimmel could be back. But I doubt if they will have Beatty present the Best Picture award. This was not his fault, but the Academy probably does not want to be reminded about this blunder.

That’s the great aspect of live television, even if they have a 15-second delay. The Grammy Awards has its moments of melodrama as well, like Adele cursing when the arrangement was slightly off when performing a tribute to the late George Michael last month. “Saturday Night Live” has had its outrageous moments going back to Sinead O’Connor ripping up a picture of the pope and Richard Pryor’s obscenities.

To think everybody was making a big deal about the expected references to President Trump’s immigration ban and his executive action orders since his inauguration. But is that any different than any other year? Every year an award winner will speak out on some cause or criticize political leaders for their inaction on the environment and so on. So taking verbal shots at the current president was expected and not all that surprising.

The Academy Awards has had a number of strange events over the years. The one that stands out in my mind was Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American activist, who slowly walked to the podium on behalf of Marlon Brando, who was supposed to receive the Best Actor award for “The Godfather” in 1973. Littlefeather pushed away the Oscar and said that Brando would not accept the award due to the negative treatment of American Indians by the film industry. Littlefeather, who was dressed in Native American attire, was met with a series of cheers and boos after her statement.

The 1974 Academy Awards stand out in my mind because the streaking phase was in full swing. Co-host David Niven was at the podium waiting for presenter Elizabeth Taylor. Suddenly, a naked man streaked across the stage giving the peace sign.

Niven was briefly startled but remained composed. The longtime actor then replied, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings.”

The quip received some laughs. We didn’t see most of the streaking man but noticed some bare legs racing by and could figure out what was going on. Niven proved to be an old pro capable of an ad lib on live TV. It was harmless and funny moment.

But Sunday night’s gaffe was unique. Beatty probably wanted to crawl off the stage. The only thing you can do after this is just laugh it off. But that’s the great thing about live television. It was the most memorable moment of the Academy Awards.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .