Liza Minnelli was “forced” to appear in a wheelchair against her will at last month’s Oscars, a longtime collaborator has claimed.
Michael Feinstein, singer and pianist and friend of Minnelli’s, said her appearance at the end of the ceremony, where she presented the Best Picture award alongside Lady Gaga, left her “very disappointed”.
“She only agreed to appear at the Oscars if she was in a director’s chair because she had back problems,” Feinstein said Tuesday, speaking on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show.
“She said, ‘I don’t want people to see me limping over there. She said, ‘You know, I want to look good. I don’t want people to worry about me.
Minnelli and Gaga’s presentation of the Best Picture award to Coda provided a relatively quiet close to a show overshadowed by events about an hour earlier, when Will Smith slapped presenter Chris Rock onstage.
This disruption had “shaken” the organizers, Feinstein claimed, causing them to abruptly change Minnelli’s plan. According to Feinstein, a stage manager informed her minutes before her appearance that she would be seated in a wheelchair rather than a director’s chair.
It is unknown if Minnelli was originally meant to be rolled on stage and then transferred to the chair during a commercial break or if she was meant to walk with the assistance of the chair.
“She was nervous,” Feinstein said, “and it made her feel like she was beside herself. Can you imagine suddenly having to be seen by millions of people like you wouldn’t want to be seen? That’s what happened to him.
Earlier this year, Feinstein and Minnelli dueted on Embraceable You for Feinstein’s latest album, Gershwin Country.
Gaga and Minnelli won praise from audiences and critics alike for their warm and collaborative turn. The pair have been close for more than a decade, and last month former Minnelli publicist Scott Gorenstein told People their Oscar appearance was at Gaga’s direct request.