Oscar mishap: AMPAS President declares accountants ‘will never return’ to Ceremony

(Last Updated On: March 2, 2017)


By James, Michael Igiri


The two accountants- Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz- responsible for muddling up the main award envelopes at Sunday’s Oscars ceremony will not be employed to do the job again.

President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), Cheryl Boone Isaacs said this during a speech where she also announced that the relationship with the accountancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) was also under review, following the huge mistake which occurred on the night.

It is no longer news that La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner of the best picture award. The team behind the film were in the middle of their speeches before it was revealed the accolade should have gone to Moonlight.

It has been described as the biggest mistake in 89 years of Academy Awards history- although it’s worth noting, that this year’s envelope design was changed from gold paper with white labels to red paper with gold lettering — considerably harder to read in dim backstage lighting.

Mr Cullinan mistakenly handed the wrong envelope for the Best actress in a leading role to the two presenters, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway rather than the envelope which contained the name of the winner for the best film.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which counts the votes and organises the envelopes, has since apologised for the mix-up.

Mr Cullinan was also reported to have tweeted a picture of best actress winner Emma Stone minutes before handing the presenters the wrong envelope, and Ms Boone Isaacs blamed “distraction” for the error.

With the wrong film being mistakenly named best picture at the Oscars – La La Land instead of Moonlight – lots of people are asking how this could have happened.

Two people count the votes and know the winners in advance. Each has a full set of envelopes containing cards with the winners’ names – just in case something happens to the other set.

Those people – from accountancy firm PwC – stand on either side of the Oscars stage and hand the envelopes to the award presenters just before they step on stage.

So after Emma Stone won best actress, the other best actress envelope was handed to Warren Beatty – who was presenting the best picture prize – by mistake.

That explains why a confused Stone told reporters afterwards: “I was holding my best actress in a leading role card that entire time.”

It looked like the veteran actor was fooling around when he opened the envelope, looked at the card, and then looked inside the envelope again to see if there was another card inside.

He checked again, and then showed the envelope to his co-presenter Faye Dunaway. She read the words: “La La Land.”

Beatty explained: “I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope, and it said Emma Stone, La La Land. That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you [the audience], I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel said afterwards: “He was confused because the card, which he showed to me by the way, said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land’ on it.

“So this was confusing obviously, we thought he was being coy and cute to make everybody suffer but in reality he was perplexed by why her name was on it.”

Fox 59 online news reports that, in the history of the Oscars, only one similar event has taken place. Back in 1964, Sammy Davis Jr. was handed the wrong envelope when presenting the best musical score (adaptation or treatment) category and accidentally announced the winner for original musical score.