a_190x190EXCLUSIVE: The New York Film Critics Circle has issued a formal apology for the behavior of at least one of its member critics at last night’s awards ceremony when director Steve McQueen accepted his prize for 12 Years A Slave. Our sister publication Variety identified the heckler as CityArts editor and well-known cantankerous contrarian critic Armond White, who, per Ramin Setoodeh’s report, said some remarkably inelegant foul-mouthed things to McQueen after the filmmaker was introduced in an impassioned speech by Harry Belafonte. The apology was issued to McQueen and the film’s distributor, Fox Searchlight, by NYCC chair Joshua Rothkopf.

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Here is the missive:

It truly was a wonderful night: We felt like we were in the presence of
something truly historic, with Mr. Belafonte’s exquisite presentation and Mr.
McQueen’s elegant words of acceptance.

Unfortunately, the moment was slightly marred, and I’d like to address that

On behalf of the New York Film Critics Circle, I apologize sincerely for the
crass bit of heckling Mr. McQueen encountered. I’m mortified to learn that this
was from one of our own members. We are taking disciplinary action.

I’m especially pained that this occurred in your case. Rarely do we receive
thank-you notes, as Steve sent us after the vote. Moreover, his speech showed a
deep understanding of the history of our award winners: an honored group in
which he stands as an equal.

Please forward our apology on to him.

Thank you, your talent and your team for making the night a special one,
Joshua Rothkopf, 2013 Chair, NYFCC

This kind of classless behavior seems to be in full swing this Oscar season, maybe because there are so many publications covering every heartbeat of a wide-open race. There was the report of an aging Academy member who had her Norma Desmond moment by accosting Martin Scorsese after a screening of The Wolf Of Wall Street, a movie that has had more than its share of press that has nothing to do with whether or not it’s an Oscar-caliber film. The idea that classy filmmakers like Scorsese and McQueen have to endure this crap from people with no talent seems galling to me. A critic has every right to bash a film in their review, which White did in 12 Years A Slave, and an Academy member gets a ballot to voice their opinion. Beyond that, how about shutting your self-important mouths instead of making a spectacle at a public event? It will be interesting to see what kind of disciplinary action the NYFCC takes with White, who has a history of this.