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Accountants connected to Oscars best picture snafu will not work show again

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image Martha L. Ruiz, left, and Brian Cullinan from PricewaterhouseCoopers at the Oscars in Los Angeles (Photo: Associated Press)

The Academy announced that PriceWaterhouseCoopers accountants Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz have been relieved of their duties

The president of the film academy says the two accountants responsible for the best-picture flub at Sunday’s Academy Awards will never return to the Oscar show.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs tells The Associated Press that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ relationship with PwC, the accounting firm responsible for the integrity of the awards, remains under review.

Boone Isaacs broke her silence Wednesday following the biggest blunder in the 89-year history of the Academy Awards.

PwC accountants Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz were responsible for the winners’ envelopes at Sunday’s Oscar show. Cullinan tweeted a photo of Emma Stone from backstage minutes before handing presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope for best picture. Boone Isaacs said Cullinan’s distraction caused the error.

Boone Isaacs remarks came a day after Warren Beatty called on the academy president to clarify the situation.

Since Sunday’s broadcast, the academy had largely left the explaining to PwC, the accounting firm that has taken the blame for the La La Land mistakenly being read as the best picture winner by Beatty and Faye Dunaway. PwC, which is in charge of tabulating the winners, has said partner Brian Cullinan mistakenly handed them the wrong envelope.

“We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the best picture category during last night’s Oscar ceremony,” it read. “We apologize to the entire cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight whose experience was profoundly altered by this error. We salute the tremendous grace they displayed under the circumstances. To all involved— including our presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the filmmakers, and our fans watching worldwide — we apologize.”

On Monday, the academy said it had been “investigating the circumstances” and “will determine what actions are appropriate going forward.”

Cullinan, a PwC partner, tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of best-actress winner Emma Stone moments before the best picture announcement. The tweet was later deleted.

As per protocol, Cullinan and PwC colleague Martha Ruiz toted briefcases to the awards via the red carpet, each holding an identical set of envelopes for the show’s 24 categories. The accountants are also supposed to memorize the winners. During the telecast, the accountants were stationed in the Dolby Theatre wings, one stage left and one stage right, to give presenters their category’s envelope before they went on stage.

Most presenters entered stage right, where Cullinan was posted and where he handed Beatty and Dunaway the errant envelope. Yet the previous award, best actress, had been presented by Leonardo DiCaprio, who entered stage left and received the envelope from Ruiz. That left a duplicate, unopened envelope for best actress at stage right.


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