Movies

The ‘La La Land’ producer who declared ‘Moonlight’ the winner stepped up when it mattered

Jordan Horowitz, the 36-year-old “La La Land” producer, found himself in a bad situation and stepped up Sunday night.

Horowitz was just doing his job, accepting an Oscar for the film he produced, when an opportunity for greatness was thrust upon him. After giving an acceptance speech, he realized there had been a huge gaffe: “Moonlight” was the real winner.

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Speaking truth to power, the man walked right up to the mic as soon as he understood what had happened and let the Academy, Hollywood stars, and the world, have it:

“Guys, guys, I’m sorry, there’s a mistake,” he said. “‘Moonlight,’ you guys won best picture. This is not a joke. ‘Moonlight’ has won best picture.”

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Then he grabbed the award card from Warren Beatty, who, with Faye Dunaway, had incorrectly announced “La La Land” because the original card they had been given was wrong, held it up for all to see and exclaimed: “‘Moonlight’ . . . best picture.”

Just telling it how it is.

Host Jimmy Kimmel tried to lighten the mood, and said, “I would like to see you get an Oscar anyway. Why can’t we just give out a whole bunch of them?”

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To which Horowitz responded: “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from ‘Moonlight.’”

And then he promptly walked over and gave the statue to “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins, who had earlier accepted an award for best adapted screenplay.

This isn’t to say that he somehow “saved” “Moonlight,” which critics seem to all agree is an incredible, worthy film. Horowitz just got swept up in a crazy time, and acted boldly and humbly.

Horowitz spoke to E! after the show, “Listen, things get thrown at you and you’ve got to kind of roll with it. And as I said, I was deeply happy to be able to give it to those guys. It really. . . I don’t know. It’s shocking, and I’m at a little bit of a loss for words.”

Jenkins expressed appreciation for Horowitz himself a few hours after the whole ordeal:

A New York City native, Horowitz was also a producer for “The Kids are Alright,” a 2011 film starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo. He studied acting at Northwestern University, where one of his former professors recently remarked that she felt he wouldn’t lose his way in Hollywood.

“Someone who remains honest and interested in quality in the midst of that, I think, is somebody who deserves to be admired.”

Heather Ciras can be reached at heather.ciras@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @heatherciras.
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