Having spent the better part of my career doing live TV I can attest to it being quite a rush. It’s amazing when it goes well and when it doesn’t, as long as the subject matter is not life or death, it’s an adventure.
Last night’s Academy Awards certainly counts as an adventure in Live TV.
First, it must be said: I loved Jimmy Kimmel hosting. Jimmy looked comfortable and prepared — I very much enjoyed his Matt Damon schtick. He seems unflappable even on that massive stage known for swallowing up even the best of the best. Full disclosure, I wasn’t much for the tour bus segment, but that’s just me. Schtick like that seems like a massive time-waster. You cannot tell me those weren’t plants….etc…etc. I thought Kimmel was on point with his Trump jabs too, they were hilarious and yet not hateful. (#merylsayshi) The candy stuff added quick whimsy.
Today, of course, no one really remembers much of that …everyone is talking about the Final Act of the Oscars 2017. Even if you didn’t watch it live, you now know how La-La Land producers were handed the Best Picture Oscar when, in fact, Moonlight had won it — on paper. What a fantastic train-wreck to witness LIVE on TV.
Everything goes still. Awestruck wonder hits. Could this happen to Hollywood royalty the likes of Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty….there to present Best Picture, on the 50th anniversary of their film Bonnie and Clyde? The golden age of Hollywood represented as the biggest award in Hollywood is presented — that’s when the train goes off the tracks?
Their introduction was classic, filled with that slow cadence saved for stars who owned the screen when silence was golden. There was Beatty’s quasi-political statement of tolerance and equality, followed by the usual produced piece introducing the nominees.
Cue the Live TV drama.
Did you see it as it was unfolding? Some suspected that Beatty might be having a bit of a “senior moment” during an, almost uncomfortable, epically long pause. Did you see the confusion? The look into the camera (to the control room) then to the wings (to stage managers) his silent cry for help? Some assumed it was a bad joke .. him stretching his time on stage, but no. His last gasp for assistance was to show Dunaway the card he’d pulled from the red envelope — unfortunately she was in the Oscars Presenter’s Moment (likely assuming that he was giving her the honour of announcing the winner.) He wasn’t — he was looking for her to HELP HIM handle a highly unusual situation.
The card read: Emma Stone – La La Land. Dunaway read: “La La Land”
Beatty appeared to be giving show producers every signal in the playbook that “something isn’t right here”. When he tilted the card to Dunaway, he was looking for an opinion – not an announcement – but how was she to know? When has their ever been a WRONG ENVELOPE at the Oscars?
You know what happened next, the Producers of La La Land rejoiced and gathered on stage. Only to notice that there was chaos ensuing behind them. The Representative from PricewaterhouseCoopers lurking with the stage manager and Kimmel… Live TV baby!
“Moonlight won”. The very eloquent Producers of La La Land made it clear, and gave us all an incredible Oscar Moment. Snatching the gilded card from Beatty’s hands and dramatically turning the official placard to camera, as proof.
Everyone in the audience had their phones out to record the moment. (as if it weren’t covered by a zillion cameras!) The Oscar Gaffe of 2017 will have folks talking Oscars for days/weeks/months/years to come. It’s now eclipsed the Snow White Open debacle from 1991!
Today it is the folks from PricewaterhouseCoopers who are in a spotlight they really don’t want. This their statement today on Twitter:
“We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred,” the accounting firm stated. “We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and [host] Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”
This is Live TV people. Anything can happen. This is why it’s such a rush to pull off a “well oiled machine” show, like say, Hockey Night In Canada. Broadcasters (indeed The Media) make this look easy, it’s not.
Hilariously off the cuff – Jimmy Kimmel blaming Steve Harvey was so defusing.. (referencing his Miss Universe debacle of a winner announcement) Warren Beatty standing tall to the microphone and being very crystal clear on what happened, and why, explaining himself immediately, the viewer along for the ride. Live TV. Don’t you love it?
We re-watched it all, did you? Are you still talking about it today?