After conspiracy theories and rumors took over Wednesday night about why the Oscars cut a segment that would have starred Batkid (the five-year-old leukemia survivor who captured the world’s heart last year when the Make-A-Wish Foundation let him play superhero and save San Francisco), the Academy is responding to the change in plans.
“Due to the nature of a live show, hard decisions sometimes must be made which require the Academy to cut segments due to the logistics of production,” an academy spokesperson said in a statement.
According to reports, “Spiderman” star Andrew Garfield was scheduled to take the stage for a surprise segment and introduce Batkid — a.k.a. adorable Miles Scott — before the video clip about movie heroes. Obviously, that never happened, because you would have noticed the Dolby Theatre erupting in applause and tears. Instead, the segment was cut; the Scott family got a replacement trip to Disneyland; and Chris Evans filled in for Garfield, who was mysteriously absent even though ABC had confirmed him earlier as a presenter.
Rumors started spreading about Garfield’s absence, which raised eyebrows. However, as the Academy’s statement continued: “Andrew Garfield understood that his segment had to be omitted, and he drove to Disneyland on Monday to spend time with 5-year-old Miles Scott (Batkid) and his family.”
The Oscars telecast, by all accounts a success, started getting some retroactive negative publicity on Wednesday when Mashable got hold of a photo from Miles at Saturday’s rehearsal, where a giant sign on stage spells out “Batkid.”
Miles’ mother, Natalie Scott, gave an interview to the International Business Times and said she had no idea about the reasons behind the quick cancellation. She said it all was “kind of a disappointment,” but Miles still had a fun trip to Southern California. A Make-A-Wish rep told Mashable the foundation had nothing to do with the potential Oscars appearance.
In a statement, Garfield’s rep said Andrew and Miles were “equally upset” when the segment was scrapped. “Andrew prepared a segment for the Oscars to honor Miles Scott as the true hero that he is. As some point overnight on Saturday/Sunday morning, it was decided by those running the show that the segment didn’t work in the ceremony,” the rep said, adding that Garfield went Disneyland to visit Miles on Monday.
Lesson learned: If you’re going to tug at people’s heartstrings with an appearance from a beloved small child, it’s best to go through with the plan.
(This post has been updated.)