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Academy Bars Accountants Involved in Best Picture Mixup From Future Oscars

Jordan Horowitz Oscars
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It took a few days, but the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has finally come to a decision: The two PricewaterhouseCooper accountants involved in this year’s Best Picture snafu, dubbed “Envelopegate,” will not be allowed to work at the Oscars again. In what instantly became the most memorable Oscar moment in recent memory (and perhaps all-time), La La Land was erroneously announced as Best Picture; it took two whole minutes (or more) for the PwC accountants to rectify the error and announce Moonlight as the correct winner.

Although it was PwC accountant Brian Cullinan who handed the wrong envelope to presenter Warren Beatty, an Academy spokesman told The New York Times that neither Cullinan nor his partner, Martha Ruiz, will be involved in future awards ceremonies. The spokesman did not respond when asked if the Academy would continue its relationship with PwC, which has provided its services to the Oscars for over 80 years.

Cullinan, who has been a “co-balloting leader” since 2014 (Ruiz joined in 2015), seems to have been somewhat distracted in the minutes leading up to the Best Picture mishap. In the days since, media coverage and analysis of his backstage movements has been hilariously exhaustive, culminating in a series of exclusive photos published by Variety today. Those photos show Cullinan distracted by his phone, posting a since-deleted tweet of Best Actress winner Emma Stone, and holding two envelopes — one, the Best Actress duplicate (as previously explained, there are two sets of envelopes for every winner; one set on each side of the stage), and the other for Best Picture.

Cullinan mistakenly handed the Best Actress duplicate envelope to Beatty before he took the stage with Faye Dunaway to present the final award of the evening. According to Page Six, some pre-show drama between Beatty and Dunaway may have complicated matters even further.

It’s unclear why the Academy barred Ruiz when the mistake was clearly due to Cullinan’s negligence…or why this mishap — PwC’s first big mistake in over 80 years — is being treated like such a grave offense. (The Academy takes no issue with awarding trophies to men who assault and harass women, but mix up an envelope and you’re heading straight for the stake, sure.)

According to THR, PricewaterhouseCooper’s U.S. chairman Tim Ryan has offered to meet with the Academy’s board of governors individually this week to (hopefully) remedy the situation. The Academy’s next board meeting is set for March 28, when the fate of their relationship with PwC may very well be decided.

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