If she picks up an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for ”In the Bedroom,” Marisa Tomei may finally live down one of Oscar’s biggest myths. Since her 1993 win for ”My Cousin Vinny,” Tomei has been dogged by talk that presenter Jack Palance read the wrong name at the podium. ”It’s absolute hogwash,” insists Frank Johnson, the Pricewaterhouse Coopers accountant who supervised the ‘93 results. (Tomei, who has called the rumor incredibly hurtful, refused to revisit the situation.)
The hubbub began when Palance, who had memorably performed one-handed push-ups upon winning in 1992, called fellow nominee Judy Davis ”Joan,” confusing her with a ’50s TV star. Even Tomei was stunned when he named her over grandes dames like Davis, Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave, and Miranda Richardson. ”It seemed bizarre to everyone I knew that Marisa had won,” recalls one longtime Academy member.
What if Palance had flubbed? Explains Johnson: ”We have an agreement with the Academy that one of us would step on stage, introduce ourselves, and say the presenter misspoke.” Further proof it’s no fun being an accountant.