UPDATE: Roger Ebert kindly posted this on his website tonight:
Monday p.m.: Nikki Finke says on her blog that the London Independent, and therefore me, incorrectly read what she wrote. I am guilty of finding the quote above on the Independent’s web site. When I went to Finke’s site, I found her “Live-Snarking the Oscars.” Finke explains she never said those stars wouldn’t be on the program [as presenters], but that they didn’t want to be. Point taken, although it was not expressed with crystal clarity. I was reckless in assuming her negative tone was inspired by pique at the show’s producers. I guess she was just genuinely pissed off.”
PREVIOUS: There seems to be a reading comprehension problem among some media regarding what I wrote, and didn’t write, in my pre-Oscars story. Specifically by UK’s Independent newspaper. And also by Roger Ebert.
When I used as examples various celebrities, I never said they were not going to attend the Oscars or present the awards onstage. Instead, what I reported was that these actors and actresses like others gave the producers “reasons galore — some serious, some trivial — for why they didn’t want to present awards, once considered a huge honor”. Emphasis on the word want. Big difference. For example, I don’t especially want to cover the Oscars every year. And, if I could, I’d come up with a good enough excuse to try to weasel out of it. But, ultimately, I do the reporting/commentary because either my editors and friends talk me into it. Or I suck it up and realize it’s part of my job as a newspaper and Internet journalist and columnist. I also pointed out in my article that “these behind-the-scenes embarrassments are one reason why the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences took the unprecedented step this year of failing to make public the list of Oscar presenters.” No less an Oscars authority than Bruce Vilanch, who was integrally uninvolved in this year’s show, backed up my reporting when he told The AP that at least some of the presenters who’d been lined up had backed out, emboldened by the anonymity they were afforded by the producers. (Vilanch didn’t name names.)
Yet, for some reason, the usually well-informed Independent misinterpreted my post to mean that the celebs I named wouldn’t be showing up to the Academy Awards at all — and attributed that supposed news scoop to me. While the usually astute Ebert devoted several paragraphs of his review of the Oscar show (he liked it a lot) to inventing a conspiracy theory involving me and my sources.
Now Roger and I have a good relationship, mostly. Though I did chide him recently for negatively reviewing a film after only seeing its 8-minute beginning. While I’m flattered that Roger continues to read me, he should also have the courtesy to quote me accurately. He also accused me falsely. According to him, I was so enraged by those stars showing up to the Oscars, contrary to what I supposedly reported, that I decided to trash the show in its entirety just to get back at them. On what planet, Roger? I’m not angry at Ebert for spewing this nonsense, but I sincerely hope he corrects what he has written.