PwC staff blamed for Oscar blunder barred from future shows

Accountants blamed for gaffe which saw ‘La La Land’ rather than ‘Moonlight’ awarded best picture

In a mix-up for the Academy's most coveted prize Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announce La La Land as the winner, then realise that the real winner was in fact, Moonlight. CLIP COURTESY A.M.P.A.S. 2017

 

The two accountants found at fault for botching the announcement of the winner of best picture at the Academy Awards have been officially declared unfit for any future Oscar duty, organisers of the ceremony said.

PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) representatives Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan were blamed for the Oscar bluncer that saw ‘La La Land’ being named best film in error before ‘Moonlight’. They are still employed as partners at the firm, a company spokesman said.

But the pair will no longer be permitted to tabulate Oscar votes or hand out envelopes containing winners’ names at the annual Hollywood honours, a spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences said.

PwC, the overseer of Oscar balloting for 83 years, had earlier taken full responsibility for Sunday’s gaffe, which stunned the star-studded Dolby Theatre crowd and a live television audience of millions worldwide.

PwC said Cullinan had mistakenly handed best-picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the back-up envelope for best actress in a leading role, an award bestowed on Emma Stone for La La Land a short time earlier.

Befuddled

Beatty, admittedly befuddled at seeing the card he pulled from the envelope, hesitated for several moments before handing it to Dunaway, who immediately announced La La Land as the winner.

The La La Land cast and producers were already on stage giving acceptance speeches when the mistake was recognised, leaving it to the musical’s producer, Jordan Horowitz, to interrupt the proceedings with the announcement that Moonlight really had won.

“Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr Cullinan or his partner,” the accounting firm said in a statement.

Mr Cullinan was found to have posted a now-deleted backstage photo of Emma Stone on Twitter just after she won her Oscar minutes before the mix-up - a departure from official duties widely seen as likely to have distracted him.

By tradition, two sets of sealed envelopes containing the names of all 24 Oscar winners are held by two PwC accountants on opposite sides of the stage, to be handed out to the respective presenters as each category is announced. The two accountants also are supposed to memorise the winning names.

A day after the incident, the Academy apologised to all affected, including presenters Beatty and Dunaway, and said it will “determine what actions are appropriate going forward.”

Reuters