Oscar accountants get reprieve after best picture blunder

Posted March 30, 2017

Remember when La La Land was accidentally announced as the victor of Best Picture at the Oscars, when it was really supposed to go to Moonlight? "We made a mistake".

Brian and fellow PwC accountant Martha Ruiz were told they would never work at the Oscars again following the most high-profile error in the show's history. This prompted La La Land producerJordan Horowitz graciously to invite the rightful recipients, director Barry Jenkins and the film's cast and crew, to accept the award from him. One unfortunate moment stole the show - an envelope mix-up that led to La La Land mistakenly being announced as the Best Picture victor instead of Moonlight.

The Academy announced earlier this month that Cullinan and PwC accountant Martha Ruiz, who worked with Cullinan backstage handling the victor envelopes, would not be invited back to the ceremony. He committed the error after becoming distracted as he took a photo of La La Land star Emma Stone, who had just won the prize for best leading actress.

Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, the two accountants from PwC who were responsible for the error that resulted in Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway incorrectly announcing that La La Land had won the Best Picture Oscar rather than the true victor, Moonlight, have been removed from the account.

PwC has handled Oscar balloting for 83 years, in addition to doing the Academy's taxes.

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She added that the Academy had been "unsparing in our assessment that the mistake made by representatives of (PwC) was unacceptable".

"After a thorough review, including an extensive presentation of revised protocols and ambitious controls, the Board has chose to continue working with PwC", a statement read.

To avoid mistakes going forward, the academy announced in an email to members this morning that a third accountant will be seated in the control room during future shows to ensure a more rapid response to any possible mistakes and all electronic devices will not be permitted backstage.

That decision followed news that one of the accountants involved in the 26 February blunder had been taking photos backstage with celebrities and posting them on Twitter during the ceremony.