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Movie Answer Man

Roger Ebert / June 15, 1997

Q. On a recent "Geraldo" show, Rex Reed made a serious allegation regarding the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Mr. Reed alleged there has been a massive cover-up involving the winner of the 1992 Best Supporting Actress award. According to Reed, a blunder by presented Jack Palace erroneously resulted in the awarding of the statue to Marisa Tomei for "My Cousin Vinny," instead of Vanessa Redgrave. Reed explained a "stoned" or "drunk" Palance read the last name on the Teleprompter and did not properly open the envelope and name the winner as Redgrave. Can you shed any light on this alleged incident, which Reed described as Hollywood's best-kept secret? (James Berg, Chicago suburbs)

A. The Answer Man thought he had already settled this question in the column for April 20, but it has a life of your own. Yours is one of several more recent queries, and the "secret" is everywhere on the Internet. To nail this story for once and all, the A.M. turned to Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy, for an official statement, to wit:
"The legend of Marisa Tomei's "mistaken Oscar' has appeared in various forms over the last four years and in that short time has achieved the status of urban myth. There is no more truth to this version than to any of the others we've heard. If such a scenario were ever to occur, the Price Waterhouse people backstage would simply step out onstage and point out the error. They are not shy."
To which the A.M. can add: If the story is true, how did Reed find out the winner was Vanessa Redgrave?

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