Bill Paxton died Saturday at age 61. A day later, he was briefly memorialized by Jennifer Aniston when she introduced the 89th Academy Awards’ In Memoriam segment — but the late star didn’t make the actual montage.
While Paxton was not included in the show’s footage, which was accompanied by a live rendition of “Both Sides Now” by Sara Bareilles, Oscars writer Adam Carolla said the “Titanic” star was supposed to have been added. Or at least, the podcasting king was told by a fellow show scribe that producers tried to add the prolific actor, but ultimately scrapped the last-minute inclusion for timing reasons.
Updated Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET: An Academy spokesperson denied the accuracy of the second-hand account shared Tuesday by Carolla, telling TheWrap, “We’d planned for Jennifer Aniston as soon as we found out. He was not inserted, at any point.”
“I saw the In Memoriam the night before,” Carolla said on his Tuesday podcast, which was recorded a day earlier. “I did not see the In Memoriam from the morning [rehearsal], ’cause I was not there.”
During the actual live show, Carolla asked another writer on the ABC special if Paxton was included.
“I said to someone next to me, ‘Is he in the montage?’ And they said, ‘Yeah,'” he recalled on PodcastOne’s “Adam Carolla Show.”
Of course, Paxton was not in the montage. But he was supposed to be, Carolla said — or at least, producers tried it out.
“They were having problems with Sara Bareilles singing, the timing to the music,” Carolla said the other writer told him. “It was going in and going out and they needed to get the time with the song perfectly.”
Listen to Carolla’s full story here, with this part beginning just before the 30-minute mark.
Typically, the Oscars In Memoriam segment is reserved for members of the film community who have died during the 12 months that begin on Feb. 1 of the preceding year and end on Jan. 31 of the year in which it is broadcast.
That deadline is occasionally broken, however: In 2014, writer-director Harold Ramis died the Monday of Oscar week, and was quickly added to In Memoriam. That same year, stagehand Sarah Jones, who was killed in an on-set accident about a week and a half before the ceremony, was memorialized in a card at the end of the segment.
Those are rare exceptions. Last year’s In Memoriam did not include Oscar-wining actor George Kennedy, who died the day of the show, or “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee, who died 11 days before the Oscars. The latest death to be included was Pixar writer Daniel Gerson, who died on Feb. 6 last year.