the oscars

Rob Lowe Doesn’t Have Any Regrets About That 1989 Opening Number

Photo: ABC

Rob Lowe’s 1989 Oscars opening number went down in infamy, but now the actor feels like he’s getting the last laugh. When the New York Times looked back on the ceremony’s disastrous opening number — where he and Snow White (which was unlicensed, later causing the Academy to be sued by Disney) delivered poor parodies of pop songs, Lowe was candid about how bad the performance bombed. “I remember vividly looking out in the audience and seeing Barry Levinson, who on that particular evening was the belle of the ball with Rain Man, and I could see him very clearly popeyed and mouthing, ‘what the [expletive]?’” Lowe recalled. “But to be a successful actor, you have to have a big dollop of self-denial, so I managed to convince myself that I’d killed it.” It helped that, backstage, Lucille Ball told him that she enjoyed the number.

February’s Oscars still don’t have a host — [clears throat roughly] — after Kevin Hart dropped out following a controversy about homophobia in his jokes and old tweets. Lowe didn’t discuss Hart’s debacle, but did suggest why no one wants to emcee the ceremony. “It’s basically a show that nobody wants to do. It’s really sad. But honestly, they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves,” he told the Times. “Making movies is about the audience, and when the audience starts voting with their feet, like they have been, only people who take themselves so seriously and self-reverentially would be incapable of making the kind of changes that one would need to make to be relevant to the times.”

In retrospect, Lowe said he feels like he’s gotten the last laugh. “Eighty percent of America can’t tell you what won best picture in any given year. So in an era when staying in the conversation is as important as anything else, I for sure have gotten more money and acclaim out of being in that Oscar opening number than if I had won an Oscar. And that’s fitting,” he said. Dreams do come true!

Rob Lowe on Oscars 1989 Opening Number: No Regrets