Starstruck auditor blamed for Best Picture Oscar goof-up

Los Angeles, Feb 28 (IANS) PwC, the accounting firm which has been responsible for Oscars votes for 83 years, has blamed their auditor Brian Cullinan for the Best Picture Oscar fiasco at the 89th edition of the gala.

The firm has disclosed he personally handed actor-filmmaker Warren Beatty the wrong Best Picture envelope on February 26 night here at the Oscars ceremony and then failed to correct the mistake quickly enough, reports telegraph.co.uk.

PwC admitted it “failed” the Academy, with protocols for correcting the on-stage error not followed immediately.

Cullinan and his professional partner Martha Ruiz had been jointly blamed by viewers, after it emerged the mistake was caused by a mix-up with their envelopes.

Moments before he handed out the wrong envelope, Cullinan tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of winner Emma Stone holding her just awarded statuette saying “Best Actress Emma Stone backstage!”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Cullinan posted the Stone photograph on Twitter about three minutes before Dunaway and Beatty took the stage.

The post was then deleted from his account but a journalist tweeted a screenshot of it. A copy of the tweet was also kept by Google and available through a cache page, reports telegraph.co.uk.

The Journal also quoted “a person familiar with the matter” saying that Cullinan was turned down when he had sought permission to post to social media during the show.

Cullinan posted other photos on Twitter during the awards show that were also reportedly deleted, the Journal quoted a “person with knowledge of the matter” as saying.

“This was our issue. PwC made the error, and we’re accountable,” said Tim Ryan, PwC’s US chairman, in an interview with the newspaper.

Ryan said he has spoken to Cullinan, who “doesn’t believe that a tweet caused the error”. He added that Cullinan said he feels “horrible, absolutely horrible”.

PwC had earlier released an apology to Beatty, Dunaway, the cast and crew of “La La Land” and “Moonlight”, and host Jimmy Kimmel.

“The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”

Beatty, who presented the award with actress Faye Dunaway, had been handed the envelope for the previous award, Best Actress.

After a moment of confusion, Dunaway read out “La La Land” to an audience before the cast and crew got on stage for their acceptance speech.

The Best Picture prize was actually awarded to “Moonlight”.

In a statement, the PwC said: “PwC takes full responsibility for the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols during last night’s Oscars.

“PwC partner Brian Cullinan mistakenly handed the back-up envelope for Actress in a Leading Role instead of the envelope for Best Picture to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

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

It added: “For the past 83 years, the Academy has entrusted PwC with the integrity of the awards process during the ceremony, and last night we failed the Academy.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises the Oscars, also apologised for the mishap and said it was committed to upholding the integrity of the Oscars.

–IANS

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