La La Land
producer Jordan Horowitz has opened up on the mortifying moment on stage at the Oscars when he realised his film had not won Best Picture, saying it was clear "something was wrong".
"Guys in headsets starting buzzing around. They took the envelope I had. It said 'Emma Stone, La La Land'. It was clear there was something wrong," he told the Hollywood Reporter after the mix-up that dominated the ceremony.
"They started looking for the Best Picture envelope. Nobody knew where it was. Then it appeared. They opened it next to me and it said 'Moonlight'. And so I grabbed it. I had to fix the situation."
The 2017 Academy Awards were moments away from finishing when the ceremony was rocked by arguably the biggest stuff-up in Oscars history: the wrong film had been awarded Best Picture.
Having given most of their impassioned thank you speeches, the cast and crew of La La Land were informed - live, on stage, in front of an audience of a billion or so - that there had been a huge error. Moonlight was in fact the winner.
Actor and presenter Faye Dunaway, who read the incorrect winner out on stage, would not elaborate on what went wrong, telling media after the ceremony: "I'm not going to speak about it," she said.
She also told the Telegraph is was "very quick".
"The card read that way. It was a very odd thing," she said before reportedly chatting
about moving house with someone backstage.
Horowitz has received praise for how he handled the situation, saying: "Look, we won six Oscars. The picture's been a critical success, a financial success," he said. "It's been a wild ride and it ended in spectacular fashion."
Moonlight filmmaker Barry Jenkins also tweeted "much respect" to the man who handed over the Oscar to him.
"I felt a million different things, but I did realise that whatever Jordan was going to say was going to be the truth because he looked over and I just wanted to hug him," he said.
Best actor winner Mahershala Ali said he was thrown by the moment, which made it difficult to enjoy.
"I didn't want to go up there and take anything from somebody. It's very hard to feel joy in a moment like that," though he added, "I feel very fortunate for all of us to have walked away with the Best Picture award. It's pretty remarkable."
Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has apologised to the actors, producers, presenters and viewers for the mistake.
"The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred," the company said.
"We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation."
How the spectacular mix-up went down
The mortifying on-stage moment was made even more awkward by the fact the producers from La La Land aborted their speeches to make the announcement, which was initially met with confusion from those in the room - was this some grand "You guys deserved this more" gesture, like Adele breaking up her Grammy to give half to Beyonce?
But no. There it was, in the envelope La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz held up to the cameras: Best Picture - Moonlight.
It was a spectacular mix-up, coming as it did after an awards season filled with debate about whether or not La La Land really lived up to the hype and its record-tying number of Oscar nominations.
On social media, viewers just about lost their minds.
The drama had the world trying to figure out what really happened. In the initial confusion, some were quick to blame Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the veteran actors tasked with presenting the Best Picture award. At 79 and 76 years old respectively. Was the mix-up due to old age? Poor eyesight?
A look at the envelope Warren Beatty is clutching while they present the award shows Beatty was holding the wrong envelope. As in, an envelope for an entirely different category: Best Actress in a Leading Role, which Leonardo DiCaprio had announced before Best Picture.
Opening the envelope, Beatty paused, apparently unsure of what to say, before Dunaway stepped in and announced the winner as La La Land.
Beatty clearly shows the confusion of a man who is holding the wrong envelope, has opened it to find a winner that doesn't even fit the category he's announcing, and isn't quite sure what he's meant to do now.
Backstage, Emma Stone contradicted Beatty's story, telling reporters that she had her Best Actress envelope in her possession "the whole time" after she'd won her award.
But two envelopes are actually prepped for each award. That means it IS possible for an unopened, "extra" Best Actress envelope to get onstage for the next award - although it doesn't explain why or how it happened.
The protocol backstage has been revealed by Brian Cullinan from
PriceWaterhouseCoopers. He and colleague Martha Ruiz stand on opposite sides backstage, envelopes at the ready.
"The producers decide what the order of the awards will be. We each have a full set. I have all 24 envelopes in my briefcase; Martha has all 24 in hers. We stand on opposite sides of the stage, right off-screen, for the entire evening, and we each hand the respective envelope to the presenter. It doesn't sound very complicated, but you have to make sure you're giving the presenter the right envelope."
USA Today, which had reporters stationed around the theatre, reported backstage chaos as those "in the know" realised the error.
"As the La La Land filmmakers take the stage to accept best picture, the accountant from PriceWaterhouseCoopers jumped up and said, "He [Beatty] took the wrong envelope!" and goes running onstage. Craziness breaks out. No one knows how Beatty got the Best Actress envelope instead of the Best Picture envelope.
"Oh, my God. Moonlight won, Moonlight won," a stagehand says, her hands on her head."
PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has overseen the ballot-counting process for more than 80 years has apologised for the error, and said will conduct an investigation into what happened.
Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain was among the celebs to ask how on earth the mistake had happened - and why it wasn't corrected more quickly.