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An ABC Executive Admitted The Oscars "Was Not Meant To End" The Way It Did After Chadwick Boseman Lost

"It was not meant to end on somebody who was not present."

Posted on April 27, 2021, at 6:30 a.m. ET

An executive for ABC, the network that airs the Oscars, admitted that the show "was not meant to end" the way it did, after an awkward and "chaotic" climax sparked backlash online.

Handout / Getty Images

After an unprecedented year that saw the entertainment industry turned upside down, producers of the Oscars decided to go a different route and make the telecast more like a movie instead.

Pool / Getty Images

But one of the biggest changes that was made this year was in the running order, with the final award of the night being given to Best Actor instead of Best Picture.

Patrick Wymore / Walt Disney Television via Getty

This was a notable break from tradition for the Oscars, which have ended every event for decades with Best Picture, widely regarded as the biggest award of the night.

And it was because of this change, and the fact that it was kept under wraps before the show, that people assumed the Oscars would be ending on an emotional note with Chadwick Boseman winning the award.

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Boseman died of colon cancer at the age of 43 last year.

However, in what looked like a bet made by producers gone wrong, Anthony Hopkins was announced as the winner instead, and as he was not in attendance, presenter Joaquin Phoenix had to accept the award on his behalf.

Sony Pictures Classics

The show came to an abrupt end as Phoenix said goodnight and quickly left the stage.

An immediate backlash was leveled at the Oscars for "building an entire show" around Boseman and seemingly betting on him to win.

They build the entire show around a Chadwick Boseman ending and then Anthony Hopkins won and didn't show up

The Oscars were so sure that Chadwick Boseman was going to win that they REARRANGED THE ENTIRE CEREMONY so his category could be last, and then they gave the award to Anthony Hopkins instead...the most chaotic and unhinged thing I've ever seen.

Twitter: @SpencerAlthouse

In short, people thought the whole thing was a disaster.

Wow, what a massively bad idea. And this overshadows the fact that both Anthony Hopkins and Chadwick Boseman were brilliant and one of them had to win. The spotlight is now shining solely on the producers. Huge mistake. From In Memoriam on, this show was a disaster.

In an interview with Variety, executive VP of unscripted and alternative entertainment at Walt Disney Television, Rob Mills, admitted that producers took a gamble, calling the decision to switch the running order a "calculated risk."

Handout / Getty Images

"It was not meant to end on somebody who was not present," Mills said. "It was a calculated risk, that I think still paid off because everybody was talking about it."

Handout / Getty Images

"Similarly, nobody wants the wrong envelope to happen, like it did three years ago, but everyone was talking about it," he went on. "I think some people thought maybe they missed some awards. 'Why is Best Picture early?' or, 'What's happening, this is crazy,' almost like, 'How can this possibly happen? Best Picture has to end it!'"

He added: "Some people were upset, some people loved it, and that was really the point that there was no apathy."

Mills also pointed out that Best Actor wasn't the only category to be moved to a different spot in the running order, in an apparent attempt to freshen things up.

Handout / Getty Images

"It wasn't just the final categories, the whole show was mixed up," he explained. "Screenplay, that usually comes in Act 5 or 6, one of the later acts. And Best Director was also very early."

"I think the point was, sometimes you watch the show and you feel like, 'Gosh, I've seen this every year,'" he continued. "So it really was the, 'Wow, I really don't know what's coming next.'"

Although critics seemed somewhat united in their disapproval of how the show panned out, Boseman's brother, Derrick Boseman, told TMZ his family weren't offended.

Netflix

According to the outlet, he explained that he didn't think of it as a snub because "every nominated actor was excellent and deserving of the award."

He went on to wish Anthony Hopkins and his family all the best, adding: "I'm sure [Anthony] would if Chad won."

You can read Rob Mills' Variety interview in full here.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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