You Stay Classy, Elinor Burkett a.k.a. Kanye-Lady

Monday, March 8 by

"I interrupt this speech to put my fist in my mouth!"

The strangest moment at last night’s Academy Awards (besides whatever was coming out of Sean Penn’s mouth) was when Music by Prudence director-producer Roger Ross Williams bolted to the stage to accept the best documentary short statue. At first I thought he ran because he was seated in the nosebleeds, but it soon became clear that he was running for his life when a crazy drunk lady bum-rushed the stage. Turns out that lady was Elinor Burkett, a once-producer on the documentary who had removed herself from it over a year ago and not sitcom star Marcia Wallace as I had originally believed.

Get the he said, she said from Salon after the jump.

WILLIAMS: I just expected her to stand there. I had a speech prepared.

BURKETT: What happened was the director and I had a bad difference over the direction of the film that resulted in a lawsuit that has settled amicably out of court. But there have been all these events around the Oscars, and I wasn’t invited to any of them. And he’s not speaking to me. So we weren’t even able to discuss ahead of the time who would be the one person allowed to speak if we won. And then, as I’m sure you saw, when we won, he raced up there to accept the award. And his mother took her cane and blocked me. So I couldn’t get up there very fast.

WILLIAMS: My mother got up to hug me. And my mother is 87 years old. She was excited.

BURKETT: The movie was supposed to be about the entire band, Liyana. And the [band members] were very clear they did not want to participate if it ended up being just about one person. The director and HBO decided to focus solely on Prudence . . .

BURKETT: He won’t talk to me! This whole week, there have been events thrown by the International Documentary Association, and he hasn’t passed any of the invitations on to me.

WILLIAMS: Only one person is allowed to accept the award. I was the director, and she was removed from the project nearly a year ago, but she was able to still qualify as a producer on the project, and be an official nominee. But she was very angry — she actually removed herself from the project – because she wanted more creative control.

WILLIAMS: That was handled by the publicist for the academy. I don’t know what they told her. The academy is very clear that only one person can speak. I own the film. She has no claim whatsoever. She has nothing to do with the movie. She just ambushed me. I was sort of in shock.

BURKETT: The movie was my idea. I live in Zimbabwe. Roger had never even heard of Zimbabwe before I told him about this. And you know, I felt my role in this has been denigrated again and again, and it wasn’t going to happen this time.

WILLIAMS: No, not at all. The truth is that she saw the band perform [in Zimbabwe], and told me about that, and then I opened up a dialogue with the [King George VI School & Centre for Children with Physical Disabilities] school and went on my own – which you would’ve heard about in my speech — and spent $6,000 going to Africa shooting myself. And when people expressed interest in the film, I asked her to come on board. And then I regretted that decision. Then she sued.

Everybody is already labeling this as a "Kanye moment." If you’re old fashioned like me, feel free to still refer to it as a "dick move." (Salon)

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