Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, the two PwC accountants who worked on this year’s Oscar telecast that ended in chaos when the wrong Best Picture was announced, will not be working on next year’s show, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced Wednesday.
Cullinan, a 32-year veteran of the accounting firm formerly known as Pricewaterhousecoopers, had worked on the Academy Awards for four years; Ruiz had worked on the Oscars for three years.
Cullinan shouldered much of the blame for handing the wrong envelope to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway backstage, which resulted in “La La Land” incorrectly being announced as Best Picture instead of actual winner “Moonlight.”
Cullinan may have been distracted by social media — just a few minutes before the fateful mishap, he tweeted a photo of Best Actress winner Emma Stone (which was subsequently deleted).
In a since-deleted Feb. 10 blog post by the Academy on Medium, Cullinan explained how the process works — at least, when it’s operating correctly.
“The producers decide what the order of the awards will be,” Cullinan said. “We each have a full set. I have all 24 envelopes in my briefcase; Martha has all 24 in hers. We stand on opposite sides of the stage, right off-screen, for the entire evening, and we each hand the respective envelope to the presenter. It doesn’t sound very complicated, but you have to make sure you’re giving the presenter the right envelope.”
He also explained the importance of paying attention to detail, especially with the whole world watching.
“We check things dozens of times, recounts and double-checks,” he said. “We’ll have staff go back two and three times to make sure, and then Martha and I will review and recount to ensure there are no differences between what we have and they had. So far, there’s never been a problem.”