The Academy Awards can sometimes be rather average, and that’s the way last night’s ceremony was going, until it came to the final award, which gave us the biggest gaffe in Academy history. With Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway wrongly announcing La La Land as the winner of Best Picture, the cast and crew took to the stage before the error was realized, and La La Land‘s producer, Mark Platt, was halted midway through his speech for the Oscar to be handed over to Moonlight, instead.
That moment alone is enough to ensure that the 89th Academy Awards is not one that will be forgotten in a hurry, but another huge mistake has also come to light, involving the In Memoriam section of the evening. With Broadway star Sarah Barellies singing a cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides’, the In Memoriam segment was a fitting tribute to those from the world of cinema that we lost this past year. Only, as it turns out, we didn’t exactly lose all of them.
Paying tribute to Costume Designer Janet Patterson, the Academy accidentally used a picture of producer Jan Chapman, a friend of the late Ms. Patterson, and someone who is very much alive and well. Following the mistake, Chapman emailed the following statement to Variety:
“I was devastated by the use of my image in place of my great friend and long-time collaborator Janet Patterson. I had urged her agency to check any photograph which might be used and understand that they were told that the Academy had it covered. Janet was a great beauty and four-time Oscar nominee and it is very disappointing that the error was not picked up. I am alive and well and an active producer.”
The late Patterson’s credits include Costume Design on Portrait of a Lady, Oscar and Lucinda, Bright Star and The Piano, the latter of which she worked on with Chapman. Elsewhere, people raised eyebrows over the omission of Garry Shandling from the segment; the late comic had appeared in many movies, including his last role in The Jungle Book as the voice of the Porcupine. Last night, the movie picked up the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Host Jimmy Kimmel also cited Shandling as his inspiration for hosting duties, especially when he brought unsuspecting tourists into the theater; a repeat of Shandling’s stunt when serving as host of the Emmys. Bill Paxton, whose death was announced on Sunday, was remembered by presenter Jennifer Aniston prior to the segment being shown.
For the Academy, the use of the wrong picture for Patterson is just another addition to the list of errors on the night, but there will undoubtedly be an investigation into how the error occurred. A shame for the family and friends of Patterson, that she wasn’t remembered in the correct manner.