Inside Robert De Niro’s Gotham Awards Speech Debacle (EXCLUSIVE)

Who censored Robert De Niro?

The “Killers of the Flower Moon” actor was gearing up to slam Donald Trump at Monday’s Gotham Awards, but when he took the stage he discovered that the speech he planned to give had been altered at the behest of Apple, the film’s producer. The company was responding to feedback from the filmmaking team that wanted the actor’s remarks to be centered on the movie, according to a source.

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The actor said he had not been informed of the changes, which took out any mention of the former president. De Niro, who was on hand to present “Killers of the Flower Moon” with the Gotham Historical Icon and Creator Tribute, criticized the awards show and Apple. “I don’t feel like thanking them at all for what they did,” he said. “How dare they do that, actually.”

A revised version of the speech was delivered to the teleprompter less than ten minutes before the event started, according to sources with knowledge of the show. A woman who told the teleprompter operator to upload a new speech was overheard identifying herself as an Apple employee. At 6:54 p.m., the teleprompter company was sent an email from two Apple employees with the new text, which omitted explicit references to Trump. It instead had De Niro reference how “watching the news today” makes it clear that “we actually are living in a post-truth society.” Variety has reviewed a copy of that email. The Gothams, an annual celebration of film and television, had nothing to do with the cuts to the “Killers of the Flower Moon” star’s remarks, according to insiders. A spokesperson for De Niro said that the actor did not see the changes.

A source close to the film denied that there was any censorship involved and said that the incident was a miscommunication. There had been multiple versions of De Niro’s speech and there was a desire to focus solely on the moviemakers and their artistry, according to the source. Apple and the filmmakers were unaware that De Niro hadn’t signed off on the final draft, the insider added.

De Niro did get a chance to level his criticism, reading his remarks from his phone. “Lying has become just another tool in the charlatan’s arsenal,” De Niro said. “The former president lied to us more than 30,000 times during his four years in office. And he’s keeping up the pace in his current campaign of retribution. But with all his lies, he can’t hide his soul. He attacks the weak, destroys the gifts of nature and shows disrespect, for example, by using ‘Pocahontas’ as a slur.”

Spokespeople for the Gotham Awards and Apple declined to comment.

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