Wednesday, 1 March 2017

And The Oscar Goes To....

Yes, the Oscar Best Picture was La La Land.  For two minutes and 28 seconds.

It was like deja vĂș. It was also a Monday morning in December 2015 when Steve Harvey announced the wrong Miss Universe. Since the show was held Sunday night in the US, we saw it here Monday morning in Asia.

And just two mornings ago, it was exactly the same boo-boo on international TV.

Faye Dunaway blurted out "La La Land" while reading from the wrong envelope Warren Beatty was holding. That envelope was for Best Actress, and not for Best Picture!

"Someone screwed up", I thought.

In events involving live television, thorough planning and precise execution are what it takes to do things perfectly. I should know; I handled real-time tabulation and presentation during some award shows a few times during my career.

I remember my team and I tabulated scores straight from the judges' scoresheets during a national modeling competition in the Philippines (whose winner was sent to Europe for the finals), and that singing competition that launched the career of Sarah Geronimo. 

Yes, my team was there on the night when Sharon Cuneta read her name from the golden, glittery envelope my boss handed to her on stage as Boss Vic stood by. And who made that golden, glittery envelope? I did.  We were even there during the final rehearsals the night before where each contestant sang without an audience. Well, good for her, she's now a big star.

During the planning, I made sure the words written on the envelope would only be the ones needed to declare the winner. That's why I wondered why Steve Harvey screwed it up when he only needed to read two names: the 2nd runner up and the Miss Universe.

But when they later showed on TV the envelope he was holding, there were three names, which made it confusing for him. As I said, planning. The official tabulators should have been smart enough to realize that, since Harvey wasn't actually going to announce the name of the 1st runner-up, leaving it out from the print-out would have been logical and correct. Poor Miss Colombia. It was probably the most awkward moment on that stage with her and Miss Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach, waiting for someone to fix the boo-boo seen all over the universe.

Oh, well. I guess the Miss Universe Organization, Steve Harvey, and its official tabulators learned their lesson. And that huge mistake was forgotten until....the Oscars!

Although the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the official tabulators for the Academy Awards, already issued an apology, there was no official narration on what happened behind the scenes that lead to the biggest Oscar fiasco in recent memory.

But I think what caused this boo-boo was just simple: someone lost focus!

The two partners from PwC safeguarding the envelopes were on the wings, with the female partner standing on the stage wing left, according to the BBC News, and this meant, the male partner was standing on the stage wing right. Since they both carried identical sets of the winner's envelopes, one would just give the envelope for a specific category to the presenter/s of that category if the presenter/s were coming from his/her side of the stage.

So easy, wasn't it? Just keep track of the categories, give the envelope for the category being presented, and wait for the next one!

But as I said, someone lost focus, and the PwC partner, from whose side Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty came (probably at the stage wing right), gave the legendary stars the Best Actress envelope, the wrong envelope.

That PwC partner tweeted a photo of Emma Stone backstage after she received the Best Actress award. If you watched the show, Emma Stone walked with Leonardo di Caprio towards the stage wing right after her speech. This made me think the male PwC partner probably got starstruck and was so excited that he wanted to tweet the photo to his Twitter followers to show them that he saw Emma Stone fresh from her Oscar win.

The fact that he was busy tweeting backstage showed that he lost focus. And his tweeting probably made him forget to ditch his copy of the Best Actress envelope he was holding and retrieve from his black bag the Best Picture envelope, which was to be presented next. 

Leonardo, who presented the Best Actress award to Emma Stone came from the stage wing left (to your right if you're in the audience), and received the Best Actress envelope from the female PwC partner standing on that side. After her speech, Emma Stone, along with Leonardo di Caprio, walked towards the stage wing right, where the other male PwC partner stood. And that's how this partner was able to take a photo of Emma Stone with her trophy.

The male PwC partner probably thought he was already holding the Best Picture envelope, but I believe at this point, he was still holding the Best Actress envelope, which he then gave to Warren Beatty, who along with Faye Dunaway, was presenting the Best Picture award to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their classic, Bonnie and Clyde. 

And the rest, as they say, is Oscar history. And you can always watch the fiasco over and over on Youtube.

Well, there's always a lesson to be learned. Planning is nothing when the execution is poor. You can plan all you want, but when you lose focus and don't execute those plans, everything falls apart. 

I haven't seen Moonlight, but I trust the Academy that it is the best film for 2016. Being the last award to be given out, the best picture is the highest accolade and honor Hollywood bestows in an industry that makes hundreds of films every year.

Too bad, the producers and the team behind Moonlight weren't able to get their moment on Hollywood's biggest night, just because someone wanted to tweet.

             (Screenshot of the tweet from Twitter)

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