New York Film Critics at center of heckling controversy, Armond White claims he never yelled at '12 Years A Slave' director Steve McQueen

By Daniel Levine,

The New York Film Critics Circle Awards on Monday night was supposed to be a fun night where critics rubbed shoulders with their favorite stars and filmmakers, but the only thing anyone was talking about was the alleged heckling from critic Armond White.

White was one of the rare critics who did not like 12 Years A Slave, so when its director, Steve McQueen, picked up his award for Best Director, he reportedly yelled from his seat. Variety quoted White as saying, “You’re an embarrassing doorman and garbage man...F**k you. Kiss my ass.”

McQueen, who was accepting his award from Harry Belafonte, did not respond, either because he didn’t hear the comments or he didn’t want to.

Later, Variety then reported that the critics group has scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday to try and figure out how to discipline White. Deadline also posted an apology from NYCC chair Joshua Rothkopf, which he sent to McQueen and 12 Years’ distributor, Fox Searchlight.

“On behalf of the New York Film Critics Circle, I apologize sincerely for the
crass bit of heckling Mr. McQueen encountered,” the apology reads in part. “I’m mortified to learn that this was from one of our own members. We are taking disciplinary action.”

White has just sent a lengthy statement to The Hollywood Reporter, claiming that he did not say what he has been widely quoted as yelling at McQueen. “The comments that I supposedly made were never uttered by me or anyone within my earshot,” White wrote. “I have been libeled by publications that recklessly quoted unnamed sources that made up what I said and to whom I was speaking. Someone on the podium talked about critics' ‘passion.’ Does ‘passion’ only run one-way toward subservience?”

White wrote that his previous behavior at the awards have been “misrepresented” in the press. “Did I make sotto voce comments to entertain my five guests? Sure, but nothing intended for others to hear and none correctly ‘reported,’” White said.

image: Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for BFI/image.net

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