Looking back at Oscar's biggest goof

Tue Mar 2, 2010 4:32pm EST
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By Gregg Kilday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Oscar's campaign season officially ends on Tuesday evening, when ballots are due at Academy headquarters.

But for Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman, producers of Sunday night's 82nd annual Academy Awards, the anxiety is just beginning. Although they've adopted the motto "expect the unexpected" to generate viewer interest in the broadcast, that doesn't mean they themselves want to be surprised.

But Oscar shows rarely stick to the script.

Weatherunderground.com predicts a 40% chance of showers and a chilly red-carpet. World events also can intervene. That last happened in 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq five days before the show, and the Academy shut down the red carpet altogether.

The real nightmare that haunts every Oscar producer is that the show itself turns into a globally broadcast pratfall.

The 61st Academy Awards ceremony, held March 29, 1989, at the Shrine Auditorium, stands as the great object lesson.

"Rain Man" was named best picture, and that movie's Dustin Hoffman and "The Accused's" Jodie Foster won the top awards.

But that's not why the evening is remembered. Instead, Oscarologists still shake their heads over the infamous opening production number in which Merv Griffin sang "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts!" amid an onstage re-creation of the Cocoanut Grove nightclub before turning the stage over to a high-pitched Snow White, who boogalooed with Rob Lowe to the tune of "Proud Mary."   Continued...

<p>A poster showing Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin as hosts of the 82nd annual Academy Awards is seen at the bottom of the steps to the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in the Academy's headquarters building after the nominations announcements in Beverly Hills, February 2, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>