LOS ANGELES (AP) — As a director of awards shows, Glenn Weiss specializes in making big moments on the stage. He’ll have a hard time topping this one.
In what could become the most talked-about moment of Monday night’s Emmy Awards, Weiss used his acceptance speech for directing the Oscars telecast to propose to his girlfriend, stunning the celebrity-filled audience.
He was giving the sort of speech from a non-celebrity that makes most viewers tune out when he said that his mother died two weeks ago, and she was fond of his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen.
“You wonder why I don’t want to call you my girlfriend?” he said to Svendsen. “It’s because I want to call you my wife.”
Audience members jumped to their feet with cheers. “Saturday Night Live” actress Leslie Jones was caught on camera with her mouth agape and eyes wide in surprise.
Svendsen was sitting shocked in her seat as Weiss tried to quiet the crowd so he could finish. He politely told his counterpart directing the Emmys telecast that he was going to need “a moment.”
Svendsen got up on stage for the formal, knee-bent proposal as Weiss presented her with the same ring that his father gave his mother 67 years ago and asked her to marry him.
She nodded without a word and sealed it with a kiss.
Backstage, Weiss told reporters that even with his experience, he couldn’t plan a surprise like that.
“It became a thought and the thought picked up steam as we got here,” Weiss said. “The timing just lined up very nicely and it was a really magical moment.”
When asked what he would have done if he didn’t win, Weiss answered: “Wait until next year? I suppose the ball or In-N-Out Burger, which is our staple after award shows.”
The couple who met in 2001 working together at the Tony Awards has been together for about a decade. They’re quite used to attending award shows together, so Svendsen said it felt like a normal day for the most part.
“I had no idea,” she said. “I’m still processing this.”
Then she joked: “Thank you for not playing us off.”
Weiss said he only told his father about his plan to propose, since he needed to get the ring from him.
“To me it’s more valuable than the Hope diamond. It’s immensely precious to me,” he said. “Walking around on the red carpet like nothing was happening with this thing sitting in my pocket was kind of a nerve-wracking experience, to be honest with you. It was such a valuable thing sitting right here and now it’s where it belongs.”
Hall reported from Nashville.
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