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Returning to host his second Oscars in a row, Jimmy Kimmel wasted no time addressing the “envelopegate” fiasco — in which La La Land was momentarily crowned best picture before the real winner, Moonlight, was revealed — that dominated the headlines after last year’s Academy Awards.
Kimmel, who began the ceremony by narrating black-and-white newsreel footage of the stars arriving on the red carpet and sitting in the audience, ended that bit by introducing himself as host, saying that he “presided over the most calamitous finale in Oscars history.”
Shortly into his monologue, Kimmel told the nominees, “When you hear your name called, don’t get up right away. Give us a minute. We don’t want another thing.” He also revealed that last year the Oscars producers asked him ahead of time if he wanted to do a comedy bit with the accountants and he said no, but the accountants “did comedy on their own.” The host assured the audience, though, that things should go off without a hitch, saying that the chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers said the accountants’ singular focus would be on the show and delivering the right envelopes.
Kimmel joked, “What was your focus the other 89 years?”
Later, talking about the first Oscars on the occasion of the 90th ceremony, he said, “At that Oscars they gave out two awards for best picture — kind of what we did last year.”
Presenter Mark Hamill also addressed the flub when presenting the award for best animated short, repeating to himself, “Don’t say La La Land.”
Ahead of the final commercial break before the best picture winner was unveiled, ABC aired a close-up shot of the best picture envelope.
When the show returned from the break, Kimmel resumed with “envelopegate” jokes.
“This is the home stretch,” he said. “Nothing from here out could possibly go wrong. Everything before this is waterhouse under the bridge.”
Kimmel then introduced presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, back for a do-over after erroneously presenting last year’s best picture Oscar to La La Land.
“Thank you. It’s so nice seeing you again,” Beatty told the audience, while Dunaway offered, “Presenting is lovelier the second time around.”
This time, after Beatty took a few seconds fumbling with the envelope, the Oscar went to The Shape of Water.
This year’s presentation wasn’t entirely perfect, however, as music cut off one of the winners before he could finish his speech. But Kimmel swept in and asked him to continue.
Last year, Dunaway, handing out the best picture award with her Bonnie and Clyde co-star Beatty, mistakenly announced La La Land as the winner of the Oscars’ top prize. The producers and cast of the film took the stage and made their speeches before word trickled through the group that the wrong film had been announced and, in fact, Moonlight was the real best picture winner. La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz announced that Moonlight had won, holding up the correct card and revealing the winner to the audience.
Beatty, who returned to the stage, explained that he and Dunaway received the wrong category envelope and that he paused and handed Dunaway the card after he read that it said “Emma Stone, La La Land,” indicating it was the best actress envelope as Stone had won that award just before the best picture presentation.
Later, accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is charged with tabulating the results, revealed that one of its partners, present backstage, mistakenly handed the best actress envelope to the best picture presenters. The firm announced a number of reforms to prevent such a blunder this year. The two partners who worked last year’s show won’t be backstage this year — there will be three partners at the show, two backstage and one sitting with Oscars producers in the control room — each one will have a complete set of winners’ envelopes and commit the winners to memory. They all attended rehearsals and practiced what to do if something goes wrong. And when the envelopes are handed over, both the presenters and stage manager will confirm that those handing out the awards have the right envelope. Finally, the Academy has said PwC partners are prohibited from using cellphones or social media during the show, so that their focus can stay on the tasks at hand.
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