National

The accounting firm responsible for the Oscars flub is keeping its job, with some changes

By Greg Hadley

ghadley@mcclatchy.com

In this Feb. 26, 2017, file photo, PwC accountant Brian Cullinan, center, holds red envelopes under his arm while using his cell phone backstage at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Accountants won’t be allowed to have their cellphones backstage during future Oscar telecasts, and Cullinan has been fired by the Academy, but PwC will return for the 2018 ceremony.
In this Feb. 26, 2017, file photo, PwC accountant Brian Cullinan, center, holds red envelopes under his arm while using his cell phone backstage at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Accountants won’t be allowed to have their cellphones backstage during future Oscar telecasts, and Cullinan has been fired by the Academy, but PwC will return for the 2018 ceremony. Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

The company behind the biggest Oscar mistake in history has kept its job. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm which has handled balloting for the Academy Awards since 1934, will return in 2018, according to multiple media reports Wednesday.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the board of governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided Tuesday night to retain PwC for at least one more year, despite the fact that two of the firm’s partners were responsible for an embarrassing flub that saw presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announce “La La Land” as the year’s Best Picture, only for several minutes later it to be announced that the movie “Moonlight” was the actual victor.

It later came out that the PwC partner, Brian Cullinan, who gave Beatty the wrong envelope, had been on his phone and tweeting just moments before the mistake. His partner, Martha Ruiz, also failed to correct the mistake in a timely manner, leading to a confusing mess on stage. Both Ruiz and Cullinan were harshly criticized by many and fired by the Academy less than a week later, per the Associated Press.

Still, even after that, it was unclear whether PwC would stay on as the Academy’s balloting partner, with many speculating that the mistake, the first of its kind in the show’s history, would prove unforgivable.

The Hollywood Reporter, citing sources familiar with the board of governors’ discussion, confirmed that the Academy was irate and some members thought PwC should not be retained. However, the board eventually decided to keep the accounting firm — with some changes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

From now on, the partners responsible for the winners’ envelopes will be required to participate in rehearsals and give up their phones backstage. While traditionally just two partners have known the results before the ceremony, now a third partner will be stationed with the telecast’s director, per the Associated Press.

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