PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has singled out accountant Brian Cullinan for the “series of mistakes” which led to the wrong Best Picture winner being announced at Sunday night’s Oscars.
Described as the “biggest blunder in Oscars history” sparking 6,000 social media mentions in a single minute, La La Land was wrongly awarded Best Picture at the 89th Academy Awards culminating in chaotic scenes on stage the film’s producer, Jordan Horowitz, realised mid-speech that Moonlight was in fact the rightful winner.
Releasing a statement, PwC said Cullinan had “mistakenly” handed the back-up Actress in a Leading Role envelope to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, claiming that “once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough.”
The statement reads: “We are deeply sorry for the disappointment suffered by the cast and crew of ‘La La Land’ and ‘Moonlight’. We sincerely apologise to Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Jimmy Kimmel, ABC and the Academy, none of whom was at fault for last night’s errors. We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to each of them for the graciousness they displayed during such a difficult moment.
“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.”
Moments after the mishap, presenter Beatty explained that on opening the envelope he saw it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land’ rather than the name of the winning film. “That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
Speaking after the show, Stone, who took home the Best Actress in a Leading Role trophy for her portrayal of aspiring actress Mia La La Land, described the Best Picture mix-up as “one of the most horrible moments of my life.”
Currently, Cullinan serves as US board chairman and managing partner of PwC and has been with the company for 20 years. Over the years, PwC has counted more than 70,000 Academy votes, during the ceremony the only people who know all the winners are two PwC accountants who stand off stage to monitor proceedings and hand out the envelopes containing the winners.
According to reports Sunday’s show was Cullinan’s fourth time handling the Oscars.