Nearly 100 industry heavyweights were honored last night during the Academy Awards' "In Memoriam" video package, but not 25-year-old star Brad Renfro, who died last month from an accidental heroin overdose in his Los Angeles home.
According to a spokeswoman at the Academy, the omission was not an intentional slight but a necessity, given limited time to make and show the piece.
"Obviously, [that piece] is not something that we can continue to cut right up until the day of the show, so there's a point at which we have to make difficult decisions," she told MTV News. "It's a very difficult piece to put together every year, but we're just not able to include everyone. There were many people [this year] who were not included."
Veteran TV actor Allan Melvin, who played Sam the butcher on "The Brady Bunch" and appeared on "All in the Family" and other shows, was also left out of the package, as was "Jaws" actor Roy Scheider. The spokeswoman acknowledged that Scheider's February 10 death was too close to the broadcast for inclusion.
Renfro made a name for himself at the tender age of 10 when he landed a central role in the 1994 John Grisham legal thriller "The Client," alongside Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones. Although plagued later in life by a crippling drug addiction and run-ins with the law, Renfro continued to work on high-quality projects well into his teens, including starring roles in "Apt Pupil" and "Sleepers."
But MTV News has learned that he was not an invited member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Oscars. In the end, that might have been a contributing factor to his exclusion from the montage, the spokeswoman admitted.
"We try to represent people — not just actors and actresses — but people who have contributed to film in a variety of different ways," she said. "But [being an Academy member] is certainly one of the considerations that's taken into account, though not exclusively."
Although edited by one individual, "A number of people are in the decision-making chain about who might be included" in the montage, the spokeswoman said.