Why We Can't Get Enough of the Oscars' 'Kanye Moment'

Out of an awards show of A-listers, the flap over the interrupted Best Documentary Short speech has earned the most buzz

Sure, Sandra Bullock won her first Oscar. And Kathryn Bigelow made history as the first woman to be named Best Director for her war film The Hurt Locker. But the story getting the most buzz from Sunday's Academy Awards is producer Elinor Burkett “pulling a Kanye” during director-producer Roger Ross Williams’ acceptance speech for Best Documentary Short for their film Music by Prudence.

It all started innocently: a gushing speech by Williams about how he couldn’t believe his good fortune to win an Oscar. But then Burkett bumrushed the stage and chastised him for not letting her speak (“Doesn’t a man ever let a woman talk,” she cracked. “Isn’t that the classic thing?”) before launching into her own speech while a stunned but still smiling Williams looked on.

What’s the back-story behind the riveting moment? “What happened was the director and I had a bad difference over the direction of the film that resulted in a lawsuit that has settled amicably out of court. But there have been all these events around the Oscars, and I wasn't invited to any of them. And he's not speaking to me,” she told Salon.com. “And then, as I'm sure you saw, when we won, he raced up there to accept the award. And his mother took her cane and blocked me. So I couldn't get up there very fast.”

Williams claims that Burkett removed herself from the project almost a year ago because she wanted more creative control -- and that the Academy only allows one person to give a speech. And how about his mother cane-blocking Burkett? “That’s ridiculous,” he told Larry King on Monday’s episode of Larry King Live. “My mother got up to hug me. My mother is 87 years old and has bad knees. She just got excited -- like any mother would.”

King even gave Williams -- a former CNN producer -- a chance to finish his speech. But, alas, the director, clutching his Oscar, only got through part of it before he thought King was interrupting and stopped speaking. “I wasn’t cutting you off, Kanye,” the talk-show host said. Awkward.

We can already predict that there'll be a Saturday Night Live sketch about the moment. And, more importantly, there’s the real story behind the film: 21-year-old Prudence Mahbena, a woman from Zimbabwe born with the genetic condition arthrogryposis (which warps the joints in utero) who had her legs amputated at birth.

And despite living in a country where -- according to the film’s Web site -- disabled children are apparently thought of as being cursed by witchcraft and have been subjected to starvation and disowned by their families, the singer overcame her disability and has inspired hope with her band Liyana, also comprised of physically challenged musicians.

Even though Prudence's heroic tale has been overshadowed by the hilariously awkward Oscars speech, HBO will air the short film on May 12. Until then, expect mashups and spoofs of the moment to go viral.

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