Sitting in front of the television as Hollywood was handing out its annual Oscars, I wondered something.
Who decides who steps to the microphone to acknowledge and receive these coveted awards?
When a movie’s name is called as the winner of “best picture” or some other category in which a number of people have collaborated, who decides which member of that crowd stands, walks to the front, accepts the kiss from Penelope Cruz, and addresses the billion people who are tuned in?
Do they work this out in advance? Is it spontaneous? Do people get their feelings hurt when the wrong person steps up and takes credit?
Michael Curtiz directed “Casablanca,” the incredible movie which took home several Oscars from the 1944 prom. He was named best director and the movie best picture of the year. The film was done by Warner Brothers.
There were three Warner Brothers–Albert, Harry, and Jack. It seems to be the universal assessment that Jack was the rascal in the bunch. Once Jack talked his brothers into selling the studio to a Boston firm, then the next day repurchased it so it would belong exclusively to himself. The rest of the family never forgave and never forgot.
An executive who worked on “Casablanca”–I’ve forgotten his name–tells what happened at the awards ceremony when “Casablanca” was announced as best picture of the year. “I was rising to my feet when I noticed Jack Warner already on his way to the front. He accepted the Oscar like he had had anything to do with this movie. It was my movie. I’m the one who made ‘Casablanca’ happen!”
A generation later, the man still had not forgotten the offense or forgiven Jack Warner.
A line attributed to Ronald Reagan says, “There is no limit to what can be accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit.” (Other people, including Walt Disney, also get credit for saying that.)