Was it a meltdown or misinterpretation? Whatever it was, Oscar-winning diva Marlee Matlin spent part of Thursday on Twitter trying to downplay a stormy appearance at an event associated with the Miss Deaf International pageant in Las Vegas.
In town for appearances associated with the World Deaf Expo, Matlin had just finished taping an interview with Alicia Jacobs, entertainment reporter for NBC affiliate KSNV-TV, Channel 3, in a Sands Expo ballroom.
Matlin's demeanor switched from upbeat to icy when she was approached by Bonita Leek, a top executive with Miss Deaf International.
With both communicating in sign language, Leek asked if Matlin would take a photograph with her. The actress declined.
Leek explained that she was the organization's CEO and co-founder. Matlin responded that she knew "exactly" who Leek was but again declined, saying she would take a group photo with the contestants but not with Leek.
A few shots into the photo shoot, Leek joined the group, to the disapproval of Matlin, who appeared upset.
As she walked toward the exit, with contestants close behind her in hopes of getting in another photo, the actress, who spoke only one word in her Academy Award-winning role in "Children of a Lesser God" in 1986, blurted to her handler, "Get me out of here now!"
When Jacobs, who also was a judge for the pageant, went to Leek for comment on Matlin's behavior, the pageant executive said on camera that the actress "doesn't have the greatest reputation" in the deaf community and added that "she showed her true colors in front of our contestants."
Leek characterized Matlin as a "Jekyll and Hyde."
When Jacobs tweeted that account, including that Matlin was "warm, funny and very gracious" during the interview but may have been "overwhelmed," Matlin and her business manager/interpreter Jack Jason responded on Twitter.
Matlin, in a tweet to her nearly 50,000 Twitter followers, wrote: "Any of you in Vegas, please do let me know what @aliciajacobs says about my visit with MDI contestants on news tonight."
Jason tweeted that Matlin "was nothing but polite and cordial to the MDI women. I was there."
Minutes later, Jason acknowledged in another tweet that Matlin "chose not to be photographed with the CEO of MDI."
Four hours later, Matlin tweeted, "Just had lovely talk with the CEO of Miss Deaf International. glad we cleared the air. And thanks to their hard working staff."
Jacobs said Jason explained that the friction was due to "a personal conflict between a good friend of Matlin and Leek."
Jacobs said she was offered video showing Matlin's "bad behavior" by a pageant staffer but the pageant agreed to not turn it over after calls from Matlin and Jason.
Jacobs said she reported the "kerfuffle" but "agreed to go along" with focusing on "the original story (which) was supposed to be about the amazing and beautiful contestants, so I somewhat curtailed the story."
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