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'La La Land' Producer Reacts To Best Picture Blunder


Actress Emma Stone summed it up nicely at the post-Academy-Awards press conference.


EMMA STONE: Is that the craziest Oscar moment of all time?

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Unintelligible).

STONE: Cool.



It was the last award of the evening - Best Picture. Presenter Warren Beatty was handed the wrong card, the one for best actress. Faye Dunaway didn't notice and read the name she saw.




CORNISH: And while the cast and crew began their acceptance speeches, Oscar producers scrambled to correct what they knew to be a colossal blunder.

SHAPIRO: Out of the nearly two dozen people on stage, "La La Land" producer Jordan Horowitz had the presence of mind to call the stage the rightful winners, director Barry Jenkins and the cast of "Moonlight."


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: You know (laughter).

JORDAN HOROWITZ: Guys, guys, I'm sorry. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: There's a mistake.

HOROWITZ: There's a mistake. "Moonlight," you guys won Best Picture.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: "Moonlight" won.

CORNISH: Now, Jordan Horowitz was kind enough to join us at our studios today. And I asked him about that moment just after he'd finished his acceptance speech.

HOROWITZ: A stage manager kind of came onto the stage, and it was clear something was going on. And at a certain point, he came up to me and took the envelope I'd been given. And when he opened it, it said Emma Stone, "La La Land." And so there was a scramble to find the correct envelope. Eventually, that envelope was found. It said Best picture on it. Opened that envelope - it said "Moonlight." And, you know, sort of - I needed to right the wrong.

CORNISH: But in your head, is that moment - on TV, are you like, my eyes widen there? (Laughter) Or, like...

HOROWITZ: You know, there's, like, a physical moment where I say I saw myself take three steps backwards. And that, for me, is the moment that I was like, oh, this is...

CORNISH: Yeah, 'cause you snatched that envelope out of Warren Beatty's hand with (laughter) purpose.

HOROWITZ: Yeah. It's funny 'cause when I went up to the mike and told everybody that "Moonlight" had won, I think there was a lot of confusion. And I think it was just needing to have sort of a physical manifestation of that. I saw it out of the corner of my...

CORNISH: So no conspiracy theories - no - none of that.

HOROWITZ: You know, just, like, that needed to end, you know? It just - it needed to be clear and decisive and clean. And he was kind of standing next to me, and I saw it out of the corner of my eye. And I just kind of - I took it and showed it. It was just kind of instinctual.

CORNISH: What does it say that people are praising you for 'cause I've thought about it, and I thought, well, like, kind of what else would he do, right? (Laughter) You couldn't skip away with the award.

HOROWITZ: I've had - I've had the same thought. I did - listen...

CORNISH: Like, people are kind of being like - it's nice of him to do a thing that probably he should have done.

HOROWITZ: I've been getting a lot of - a lot of that this morning, and it's overwhelming - like, a lot of kindness, a lot of generosity...

CORNISH: Or, like, saying you gave them the award, which is weird.

HOROWITZ: That's odd 'cause I didn't. They won the award. The spotlight needed to be on them and needs to continue to be on them. You know, we spent a lot of time with those guys. We premiered our film during the fall festivals. They did, too. We really got to know them then over the past couple of months. So to be able to right the wrong and put the spotlight on their - on their beautiful film - you know, I was - I was grateful that I got to do that.

CORNISH: Well, Jordan Horwitz, thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with us.

HOROWITZ: Thanks for having me. I appreciate having me on.

CORNISH: That's "La La Land" producer Jordan Horowitz. And a note - we at NPR did reach out to "Moonlight's" director, Barry Jenkins, and writer, Tarell Alvin McCraney, as well. We have not heard back from them. Their now award-winning film "Moonlight" is this moving portrait of a young Miami boy grappling with a drug-addicted mother and his own sexuality, one that took home the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, as well. Here's McCraney and Jenkins on stage last night. Jenkins goes first.

BARRY JENKINS: You know, I tell my students that I teach sometimes be in love with the process, not the result. But I really wanted this result 'cause a bajillion people are watching. And all you people out there who feel like there's no mirror for you, that your life is not reflected, the Academy has your back. The ACLU has your back. We have your back. And for the next four years, we will not leave you alone. We will not forget you.


TARELL ALVIN MCCRANEY: Amen, brother. I just want to echo everything you just said and all those thanks, but I also want to say thank God for my mother, who proved to me through her struggles and the struggles that Naomie Harris portrayed for all of you that we can really be here and be somebody. Two boys from Liberty City up here on this stage, representing 3-0-5...


MCCRANEY: This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender-confirming who don't see themselves. We're trying to show you - you and us, so thank you. Thank you. This is for you.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.