Updated: June 18, 2020 2:56:17 pm
The Oscars end with congratulatory messages but 89th Academy Awards ended with a flurry of apologies. And the academy and its accountants PwC are not yet done apologising. They apologised to the makers of La La Land for making them the winners of Best Film before they turned them the biggest losers of the night. They apologised to Moonlight for messing up a much-deserved Best Film win. They apologised to Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway for being the announcers who said it out aloud to the world.
Watch | Oscars 2017: Moonlight emerges winner after onstage goof-up
But neither the academy or PwC address in detail which protocols were violated, or say whether a tweet its partner Brian Cullinan sent about best actress winner Emma Stone before the best picture announcement contributed to the mistake. Wall Street Journal reported that Cullinan tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of Stone holding her statuette. “Best Actress Emma Stone backstage!” the tweet read. The tweet, sent moments before the best picture announcement, raised the question of whether the accountant was distracted from the task at hand. Although the tweet was deleted from the social media site, a copy of it was kept by Google and available through a cache page. It found its way to Twitter, reminding the world that internet never forgets.
What gives weight to this assertion is a breakdown of what exactly happened on the Oscars night. 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. 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.
After Beatty and Dunaway were handed the wrong envelopes, PwC accepted its staffers did not move quickly enough to correct the biggest error in Oscars history. “We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the Best Picture category during last night’s Oscar ceremony,” the academy said in a Monday statement. “We apologize to the entire cast and crew of La La Land and `Moonlight’ whose experience was profoundly altered by this error.”
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PwC wrote in its own statement that several mistakes were made and two of its partners assigned to the show did not act quickly enough when La La Land’ was mistakenly announced as the best picture winner. Three of the film’s producers spoke before the actual winner, the coming-of-age drama Moonlight, was announced.
Also read | Oscars 2017 goof-up: La La Land won and lost as PwC partner was tweeting Emma Stone’s image?
“PwC takes full responsibility for the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols during last night’s Oscars,” PwC wrote. It said its partner, Brian Cullinan, mistakenly handed Beatty and Dunaway an envelope containing the winner of the best actress award. “Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr. Cullinan or his partner,” the statement read.
The academy’s statement noted that PwC, formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers, has been entrusted with handling Oscar votes for 83 years but said the academy “will determine what actions are appropriate going forward.”
Meanwhile, Warren Beatty says Academy of Motion Pictures President Cheryl Boone Isaacs should “publicly clarify” what happened during Sunday night’s best picture presentation” as soon as possible.”
Beatty released a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press in which he declined to comment further on the debacle. “I feel it would be more appropriate for the president of the Academy, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, to publicly clarify what happened as soon as possible,” said Beatty.
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