Were the powers-that-be trying to stop Robert De Niro from railing against Donald Trump, again? That’s what it seemed like on Monday, when the legendary actor went off-script at this year’s Gotham Awards. During a tribute to his latest film, Flowers of the Killing Moon, De Niro openly called out the Gothams and Apple, who produced the film, accusing them of messing with the teleprompter, editing out a section in which he railed against the former president. But the real reason for the elision may be a lot more boring.
Variety did a morning-after on the awards show, in which they tried to get to the bottom of why De Niro had to pull out a paper version containing his full speech, which he then read to the crowd in protest. Long story short: There were allegedly multiple versions of the speech from various times, and the wrong one (allegedly!) got sent to the teleprompter less than ten minutes before the show started.
It still sounds a bit fishy. Soon before show time, a woman “overheard identifying herself as an Apple employee” told the teleprompter operator to upload a new version of the speech. Six minutes before showtime the teleprompter company received an email from Apple with the revised speech, which omitted specific references to Trump. Instead it mentioned how “watching the news today” makes it seem like “we actually are living in a post-truth society.”
A source, though, says it was really more a mere miscommunication. Though there was a version that kept the focus mostly on the film itself, neither Apple nor the filmmakers allegedly knew that De Niro hadn’t signed off on that version.
The Gothams themselves had no part in what proved the most headline-grabbing part of the evening.
Anyway, it all worked out, sort of. De Niro got to deliver the once deep-sixed part of his speech after all, calling out John Wayne for once saying the Native Americans deserved to have their land taken from them, trashing Ron De Santis for whitewashing slavery in Florida schools, and painting Trump as a liar and racist who uses “Pocahontas” as a slur.
Some other good stuff happened that night too. The Gothams heaped awards upon the immigration drama Past Lives, the German drama Anatomy of a Fall, the Netflix show Beef, and Flower Moon co-star Lily Gladstone, but for another film, The Unknown Country. Everyone’s a winner.