The 2022 Oscars ceremony had been torpedoed more than an hour prior courtesy of Will Smith, but when it finally came time to announce the Best Picture Oscar well after 11:00 pm ET, viewers were equally heartened and also a little stunned to see Liza Minnelli on stage with Lady Gaga.
Minnelli, a 1973 Oscar winner herself for “Cabaret,” appeared onstage in a wheelchair, brought out by friend Lady Gaga, to announce “CODA” as the winner of the night’s final honor. Now, in a recent interview on SiriusXM’s “The Jess Cagle Show,” her longtime friend Michael Feinstein claims Minnelli was “forced” to appear on stage in the wheelchair despite having initially requested to be in a director’s chair.
Feinstein, a singer and recording artist, said that Minnelli was “sabotaged. That’s a terrible word to use but she only agreed to appear on the Oscars if she was in a director’s chair, because she’s been having back trouble,” he said. “She said, ‘I don’t want people to see me limping out there.’ She said, ‘You know, I want to look good. I don’t want people to worry about me.’”
Feinstein continued, “Then literally five minutes before she went on, when she sat in the director’s chair back there, and because I guess they were all shaken up because of everything that had happened earlier, the stage manager said, ‘Well, she has to be in a wheelchair.'”
IndieWire has reached out to Academy representatives for comment.
“She was nervous,” said Feinstein, “and it made her look like she was out of it. Can you imagine being suddenly forced to be seen by millions of people the way you don’t want to be seen? That’s what happened to her.”
Feinstein also claimed that Minnelli said to him, “No, I will not be seen in a wheelchair in front of everybody. I will not do this. I refused to do this.” (Via Page Six.)
He said that by the time she agreed to appear in the wheelchair, she was “so shaken that she was discombobulated.”
Feinstein added that while it’s a “shame” how it turned out, Minnelli is “doing really well.”
According to Minnelli’s former publicist Scott Gorenstein, her appearance at the Oscars was at the direct request of Lady Gaga.