It’s the biggest bungle in Oscars history, so it only follows that the Hollywood trades are covering it with all the intensity of a congressional hearing. And while it might not have all the sizzle of a Washington-based scandal — this one involves mishandled envelopes and tweeting — the players are high-profile, and an entire industry has been left embarrassed. In case you’re just visiting from the planet Mars, you’ll know that on Sunday night, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway‘s presentation of Best Picture was marred when “La La Land” was initially announced, only for the trophy to be taken away and given to “Moonlight” instead. The musical sensation was not the winner, but the wrong envelope wound up on stage, leading to confusion, shock, and embarrassment all around.
“Everything looked so energized, I at first thought there was some kind of prank going on,” “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle told Variety.
For host Jimmy Kimmel, it was nothing short of chaos. The original plan was for him to close off the night with one last joke at Matt Damon‘s expense, but everything unravelled pretty quickly.
“I walk up onstage and all hell is breaking loose and people are mad and confused. I mean I feel bad for them, but I can’t help but laugh because it’s such an uncomfortable situation,” he said on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” (via THR).
“I didn’t know if my mic was on. Didn’t know if people could hear me. People were very confused. It wasn’t a great moment for a joke because people wanted to know what was going on. I didn’t know what was going on,” he added.
“Nobody [on the ‘Moonlight’ team] wanted to make a speech. It was so unclear what was happening. They kind of absorbed the fact they had won but nobody took the next step of saying, like, ‘Oh I guess now we have to make a speech now that we won,’ until Denzel Washington was literally waving at me and he’s yelling ‘Barry’ at me and pointing … [Barry Jenkins,] the director of ‘Moonlight'[,] is behind me and he wanted me to get him … So I grabbed Barry and I pushed him towards to the mic,” Kimmel explained.
For the show’s producer, Michael De Luca, the flub was a disaster. “I heard [fellow producer] Jennifer Todd next to me. It was like the Hindenburg report. I literally heard, ‘Oh my God! He got the wrong envelope!’ And then it was slow motion. You perceive things slowly as the adrenaline rises and the cortisol floods your system,” he told KCRW’s The Business (via THR).
The fallout from the events that transpired are already happening, with the Academy barring the accountants from PriceWaterhouseCoopers from all future shows, and even reviewing their relationship with the firm itself. There are a variety of opinions about what should be done, but one thing is clear: no one wants this to happen again.
Listen to the full conversation with Jimmy Kimmel below.