The two accountants responsible for the Best Picture mix-up at Sunday’s Oscars won’t be back next year. On Wednesday, academy president Cheryl Boone Issacs finally addressed the issue that has been the talk of the town ever since Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope by PwC partner Brian Cullinan. Issacs confirmed that Cullinan and his associate Martha Ruiz won’t be back at the Dolby Theater next year and she revealed that the academy’s relationship with their firm is under review.
Until now, the academy has had little to say about the mix-up beyond that it is “investigating the circumstances” and “will determine what actions are appropriate going forward.” On Monday, it did issue a statement from the accounting firm PwC, which has handled ballot counting for the last 83 years of the Oscars. That statement read in full:
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.
Prior to the opening of any envelope at the Oscars, only two people know the names of the winners: Cullinan and Ruiz. Each of them had a set of envelopes for all two dozen categories. Cullinan, the chairman of the US board of PwC, had led the Oscar ballot team since 2014 while Ruiz has been on the team for more than a decade.
We know Ruiz had given Best Actress presenter Leonardo DiCaprio her version of that envelope. It was Cullinan who gave Beatty and Dunaway the spare Best Actress envelope instead of the Best Picture one. The accountant did make his way onstage to right this wrong but only after several minutes, during which the “La La Land” producers delivered heartfelt acceptance speeches.What took Cullinan so long to bring this runaway train to a halt? We know he was waiting in the wings as he tweeted out a photo of Stone holding her Oscar as she awaited the announcement of Best Picture.