Author Topic: Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it  (Read 1824 times)

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PSMKay

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Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« on: Feb 27, 2017, 06:48 am »
So there was a bit of a mess up at the Academy Award ceremony last night. A presenter was handed the incorrect card to read for Best Picture and wound up reading off the wrong winner of the biggest award. Don't know about you guys but as a former SM I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach in sympathy for the poor SM team when I heard about the incident.

This props mishap is unfortunately going to be the first way that many people hear about stage managers.

So here's my question - how do we turn this into a teaching opportunity? For future stage managers and for the public?

Michelle R. Wood

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Re: Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« Reply #1 on: Feb 28, 2017, 08:34 am »
I was thinking the same thing. It turns out from further reading that the offending party was a member of the accounting firm and not crew per se; still, a major snafu that boils down to "wrong prop handed to performer." I definitely plan to use it as an example to my interns about the importance of checking over props backstage and staying focused throughout the whole show.

As for the public, I'd focus on the fact that this particular snafu hasn't happened before in the entire 87 year history of the Oscars. It's impressive, honestly, especially given the limited rehearsal time. Reminds me of the conversation I had with my family about the Super Bowl halftime show: there's an army of crew there who rush that field, setup an entertainment venue, run a full-fledged multimedia show, then deconstruct and cleanup, all in a very short amount of time. It has to go like clockwork, and amazingly, it does.

Gaffes happen. But not often. The fact that they're noticeable says something about how well most people do their job.
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." -- Thomas Edison (Harper's Magazine, 1932)

maximillionx

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Re: Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« Reply #2 on: Feb 28, 2017, 10:53 am »
Believe it or not, it's not the first time!

https://youtu.be/mmmi9ksOtt4

Handled a smidge better, but let's not discredit Jordan Horowitz for the graceful hand-off.

I think what peeved me most was the amount of time it took to make the correction. 2 speeches and a whole cadre of people walking to the stage is unacceptable. That's where my lesson would come from: if something is wrong onstage, don't wait and hope it resolves itself. Just make the correction and continue with the show. This could translate into someone walking on with a duck instead of a dog, or someone being given an incorrect/broken weapon. Expediency in remedying a mistake is far more impressive than improvisational flailing.

KMC

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Re: Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« Reply #3 on: Feb 28, 2017, 11:24 am »
I was thinking the same thing. It turns out from further reading that the offending party was a member of the accounting firm and not crew per se; still, a major snafu that boils down to "wrong prop handed to performer." I definitely plan to use it as an example to my interns about the importance of checking over props backstage and staying focused throughout the whole show.

The parallels to chain of custody issues relating to stage combat and weapons handling are worth noting.  Of course, in the case of an awards show it is not a literal "life or death" issue, but highlights the importance of who/when/how in handling show-critical or safety-related props. 

Boiling it down to a teachable moment at a university or amateur theatre level may be more along the lines of stressing the importance of pre-show checks and being mentally alert at all times, especially with the amount of distractions available on our phones.  That nobody is immune and if one person takes a mental break major issues can result, even at the highest levels of the industry.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

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Michelle R. Wood

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Re: Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« Reply #4 on: Mar 01, 2017, 03:35 pm »
Quote
I think what peeved me most was the amount of time it took to make the correction.

I think that speaks to the issue brought up by KMC: confusion over chain of command/ownership of this job. First the accountant had to notice that the wrong award was announced, then alert someone else, then hunt down the presenter to track down the envelope in his hand and check it, then go back to the stage and get things straightened out. Jimmy Kimmel, the host, was actually in the audience in prep for a closing joke after the Best Picture moment, so he wasn't available backstage to come out and handle it. There obviously wasn't a plan for how to handle this sort of thing (though I'm sure there will be now!)

Also, max, thanks for the clip and information on a previous gaffe. Everything I had read said it was unprecedented: interesting to find out something similar has happened before.
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." -- Thomas Edison (Harper's Magazine, 1932)

PSMKay

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Re: Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« Reply #5 on: Mar 02, 2017, 02:17 am »
So continuing on this train of thought, it appears that person who confused the envelopes was tweeting photos of winners from backstage despite being asked by his supervisors to not do so during the ceremony.

How do you guys handle social media policy or an electronics policy for your crew? Do you have one? Do you enforce it?

LexieTaylor

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Re: Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« Reply #6 on: Mar 02, 2017, 10:28 am »
Here's an interesting article to throw in to the mix. Interview with the stage manager: http://www.thewrap.com/oscar-stage-manager-pwc-accountants-incompetence/

I like that it's an honest account of what happened from his point of view. I think that it's ok that he explains that the blame lies mostly with PwC. I personally do not agree with the last sentence.

Here is the closing paragraph:
“It was very upsetting to us,” he said. “It still is. You work really hard on a show, and then something like that happens. You feel bad about it, even though it’s not your responsibility.”

I do not agree with a stage manager saying blatantly that something was not his responsibility. I would say that as a stage manager, everyone involved in a production is a part of your team, and you are the team leader. Everything that happens and how it is reacted to is partially your responsibility.

Thoughts?

KMC

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Re: Oscar Night 2017: How to teach from it
« Reply #7 on: Mar 02, 2017, 02:06 pm »
So continuing on this train of thought, it appears that person who confused the envelopes was tweeting photos of winners from backstage despite being asked by his supervisors to not do so during the ceremony.

How do you guys handle social media policy or an electronics policy for your crew? Do you have one? Do you enforce it?

I did not know this context when I made my previous comment, but I'll now go ahead and double down on my statement about mental breaks.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

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