The stage manager for the Oscars details the chaos that went down during the Best Picture mixup

The 2017 Oscars could easily fit into any upcoming Ryan Murphy show, whether it be American Crime Story, or American Horror Story, or even Fedu! (Sorry, but none for Glee) In the days since the huge Best Picture mixup at the Academy Awards, we’ve learned literally so much about the inner-workings of award shows, and how if one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong. Horror, crime, and feud, indeed.

But now that the dust has started to settle (and Moonlight is enjoying all sorts of spoils), an Oscar hero has finally emerged: The stage crew at the Dolby Theater. In a new interview with The Wrap, the stage manager of the show, Gary Natoli, details exactly what went wrong during the Best Picture fiasco — and how it could have been prevented.

As Gary explains, he was actually onstage with host Jimmy Kimmel and PricewaterhouseCooper partner, Martha Ruiz, when the incorrect name was announced. Martha made no indication that the incorrect movie had been named Best Picture, and “she’s supposed to have memorized the winners.”

It was then that Gary and Kimmel made their way into the audience for the last bit of the evening (a joke with Matt Damon) still unaware that something was amiss.

"I heard [stage manager] John Esposito on my headset say, ‘[PwC partner] Brian [Cullinan] says he didn’t think they said the right winner. Can you have Martha check her envelope?’ That was the first time I heard anything about it, and it was probably a minute, or a minute and 15 seconds, from the time Faye [Dunaway] announced the wrong winner.

What followed was, yes, chaos — think, like a high school production of Les Miz, but like x 1 billion.


Another stage manager needed to find Martha, and had her open the set of Oscar envelops in her possession (there are two sets of envelopes). They saw that the Best Picture winner was actually Moonlight, and tried to get the accountants onto the stage to correct the issue — and get them on stage ASAP, before anyone took to the mic. However, neither one of them would budge. There was also hella confusion over the envelopes.

“At this point I didn’t know [the presenters had] been given the wrong envelope, Gary continues. “Brian had led us to believe that Faye had just said it incorrectly. So I went looking for the envelope.

Gary himself went out onstage to get the envelope in La La Land‘s possession, and swap it out for the correct Moonlight envelope. All of this happened in about three minutes. It’s not necessarily a long time, but considering in those three minutes an entire movie took to the stage and started giving acceptance speeches, it’s like an eternity.

You can read the full interview over at The Wrap. Something tells us this still isn’t the last we’ve heard of Oscars 2017.