It was one of the most awkward moments in the history of the Oscars, of television, in entertainment, heck maybe in American history.
And somehow Warren Beatty, Hollywood's ultimate smooth leading man, was at the center of it, and the accounting firm that is responsible for the integrity of Oscar voting apologized and was vowing a full investigation.
The producers of "La La Land" were nearly done with their acceptance speeches for Best Picture, the Oscar broadcast's credits sequence about to roll, when a stir of whispers began on stage. Moments later "La La Land" producer Jordan Horowitz returned to the microphone and said "Moonlight won Best Picture" and insisting that "this is not a joke."
The collective jaw of the crowd at the Dolby Theatre — and of America — remained dropped long after they became convinced it was no joke, but what academy historians later called an apparently unprecedented Oscar error. The accounting firm PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, said early Monday that Beatty and Dunaway had been given the wrong envelope.
"We sincerely apologize to 'Moonlight,' 'La La Land,' Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture," a statement from the firm said. "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 statement came several hours after the chaotic ending, which featured Beatty returning to the mic to explain that he had opened the envelope and he was confused when it read "Emma Stone, La La Land." He had shown it to co-presenter Faye Dunaway briefly, as though he wanted her to read it, which she did, apparently assuming the Emma Stone part was off but the "La La" part correct.