Musician Michael Feinstein, who is known to be a close friend of Liza Minelli, claimed that the screen icon was “sabotaged” last minute at the Academy Awards by being asked to present in a wheelchair instead of a director’s chair as she requested.

Minelli appeared at the show at the request of Lady Gaga, who helped Minelli through some moments where Minelli became distracted and missed her teleprompter cues. Her friend Feinstein said this behavior was not due to any mental dullness, but the last-minute switch into a wheelchair that left Minelli shocked.

Feinstein was at the ceremony with Minelli and claimed she wanted the director’s chair because “She said, ‘I don’t want people to see me limping out there.’ She said ‘I want to look good, I don’t want people to worry about me.’ And then literally, literally five minutes before she went on when she sat in the director’s chair … the stage manager said ‘Well she has to be in a wheelchair.'”

He credited the last-minute change of plans to the chaos that ensued after the crew was dealing with Will Smith slapping Chris Rock. He said Minelli “pleaded” with the staff but she was told, “it’s either that or nothing.” Feinstein said the change affected her onstage because “she was so shaken that she was discombobulated, she was nervous, and it made her look like she was out of it, and she was just so shaken up.”

“Can you imagine being suddenly forced to be seen by millions of people the way you don’t want to be seen? That’s what happened to her, and she was very disappointed that that happened,” Feinstein said. He insisted that despite how she appeared on the broadcast, Minelli is “really doing well,” which is great to hear. You can watch Feinstein’s interview on The Jess Cagle Show here.

Feinstein is clearly a trusted friend of hers and has spoken on Minelli’s behalf before. In a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of a joint performance featuring the two of them, Feinstein said performing for Minelli is “not that it’s too exhausting. It’s that she’s done it for 60 years … She’s always obediently followed the directive of her managers and agents and she’s tired of it.”

He also said in the interview that Minelli is resistant to any tribute movies or shows about her while she’s still alive. Feinstein said Minelli told him “Honey, not when I’m alive and can still do it.”

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