Academy defends in memoriam segment after backlash from actors excluded from Oscars tribute
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has defended its in memoriam tribute to deceased actors and artists which aired during the Oscars on Sunday after facing backlash for leaving some big names off the list.
Before the segment began, John Travolta gave a brief introduction and a nod to his “Grease” co-star and friend, Olivia Newton-John, who died in August at the age of 73. Lenny Kravitz then performed the song “Calling All Angels”.
The tribute paid tribute to a number of stars, including Newton-John, Ray Liotta, Kirstie Alley, Robbie Coltrane and others. But the segment left some viewers wanting more.
Actor Lydia Cornell tweeted in response to the segment: “Can someone explain why this happens every year?”
The ‘Too Close for Comfort’ star went on to list a few names she noticed were missing, including Paul Sorvino, who died in July at 83; Anne Heche, who died aged 53 in August from injuries sustained in a car accident; and Tom Sizemore, who died earlier this month at the age of 61, days after suffering a brain aneurysm.
Sorvino’s wife, Dee Dee Sorvino, shared a statement with NBC News criticizing her husband’s exclusion from the tribute.
“Paul Sorvino was one of the greatest actors in Hollywood movie history. It’s unconscionable for him to be excluded from the ‘IN MEMORIAM’ segment at the Oscars. It’s a three hour show, they can’t give me a few more minutes to get it right?” she said.
During Kravitz’s performance, viewers were able to scan a QR code linked to a more robust online list of actors who died over the past year. The list includes Paul Sorvino, Heche and Sizemore, among others.
Dee Dee Sorvino, who said her husband is “loved by everyone”, argued that the names listed online should also have been shared during the on-air segment.
“Paul was not the only deserving soul left behind, and a QR code is not acceptable. The Academy needs to apologize, admit the mistake and do better. Paul Sorvino deserves better, the public deserves better, Is the Academy so jaded that it is forgetting people we love, who have given their hearts to this industry Shame on the Academy if this is not corrected Mistakes are made, that was a big one. Please do something to make it right,” she said.
Paul Sorvino’s daughter, Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino, also shared her disappointment via a tweet.
“It is disconcerting beyond belief that my beloved father and many other brilliant and incredible actors who have passed away have been left behind. The Oscars forgot about Paul Sorvino, but the rest of us never will!!” she wrote.
A spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a statement amid the backlash.
“The Academy receives hundreds of requests to include loved ones and industry colleagues in the Oscars In Memoriam segment. An executive committee representing each branch reviews the slate and makes selections for telecast based on the limited time available. All submissions are included on A frame and will remain on the site throughout the year,” the statement read.
Charlbi Dean, who starred in the Oscar-nominated film ‘Triangle of Sadness’ and died in August at the age of 32, was also among the actors included in the online list but was not part of the broadcast segment in memoriam. Other actors who have been left out of the on-air segment include ‘Laverne & Shirley’ star Cindy Williams, who died in January at the age of 75, and ‘Boogie Nights’ star Philip Baker Hall, died at the age of 90 in June.
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