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October 10, 2018

Love Gets a Greenlight

Director Glenn Weiss provided the biggest surprise of all at the 70th Emmy Awards.

  • Invision/AP
  • Invision/AP

Director Glenn Weiss got much more than his 14th Emmy on September 17 during the live NBC telecast of the 70th Emmy Awards.

He also got a "yes" from his girlfriend, Jan Svendsen, when he asked her — from the stage — to be his wife.

His acceptance for the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, for this year's Oscarcast, began routinely, with thanks.

But then came a change in tone: "I'm really grateful to be here," Weiss said, "but it's bittersweet. The person most proud at this moment would be my mom, and she passed away just two weeks ago. Part of my heart is broken — I don't think it will ever be repaired. But… Mom always believed in finding the sunshine in things, and she adored my girlfriend, Jan."

Looking out to Svendsen, sitting in the ninth row of the Microsoft Theater, he continued: "Jan, you are the sunshine in my life, and Mom was right, don't ever let go of your sunshine. You wonder why I don't like to call you my girlfriend? Because I want to call you my wife."

The audience broke into cheers and applause, while Svendsen sat open-mouthed. From the stage, Weiss protested, "I didn't ask yet! I didn't ask yet!"

When Svendsen joined him at the microphone, he produced a ring and said: "This is the ring that my dad put on my mom's finger 67 years ago. I want to put this on your finger in front of all these people and in front of my mom and your parents watching from above." Sinking to one knee, delivered the big finish: "Will you marry me?"

Svendsen said yes, and the couple kissed. "Thank you to the Academy!" Weiss exclaimed.

In an interview the next morning on Access, Svendsen explained that the two first met while working on the Tony Awards. "We're used to being behind the scenes, so this is a whole new ballgame for us." She had not expected the proposal during the show — and, of course, Weiss couldn't have known that his nomination would turn into a win.

"Knowing him the way I do," Svendsen said, "I knew he would say something about his mom. Then he segued into his mom's relationship with me. I thought we were done. He took a beat, and I leaned back, because I'd been leaning in. Then he went into the girlfriend-wife thing, and I sort of blacked out.

"The next thing I knew, people were saying, 'Move up to the stage,' and Mandy Patinkin and Brandon Victor Dixon were pushing me up. "This story is obviously very personal," she added, "but it's become kind of public. I think we should have a hashtag: #LetLoveTrend."

Also trending: Weiss's long locks. About which he quipped: "Don't ask me about my appearance now. Ask her."

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 10, 2018

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