March 8th, 2010
10:35 AM ET
Program note: It was called the “Kanye” moment of the Oscars. Hear director Roger Ross Williams explain the controversy behind his acceptance speech for best documentary short and why he was interrupted. "Larry King Live," 9 p.m. ET Tuesday.
It’s what many viewers are calling the Academy Awards' “Kanye moment.”
The win for best documentary short took an odd turn when the film’s producer, Elinor Burkett, grabbed the microphone away from director-producer Roger Ross Williams during the acceptance speech.
Burkett told Salon.com that the pair have had some issues which she said resulted in Ross no longer speaking to her and her being shut out of events surrounding the Academy Awards.
Burkett would not be denied, however, when it came time to accept the Oscar and she was soon behind Williams when he hot-footed it to the microphone.
Their film, “Music by Prudence,” follows Prudence, a disabled woman in Zimbabwe whose voice has been described as hauntingly beautiful. Part of the strife, Burkett said, was a disagreement over whether the movie should focus on Prudence or the entire band of which she is a part, Liyana.
For his part, Williams told Salon that he was the only one who should have been allowed to speak, and that Burkett was removed as producer a year ago - a point she's sued over.
"The academy is very clear that only one person can speak. I own the film. She has no claim whatsoever," he said. "She has nothing to do with the movie. She just ambushed me. I was sort of in shock."
Bruce Vilanch, head writer for the Oscars, told CNN that because the director ran down so fast, when the (slower) producer of the film finally got down there she was ready for her turn at the microphone.
Burkett said Williams' elderly mother used her cane to block her from following him to the podium.
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