For over eighty years Price Waterhouse Coopers has been the accounting firm responsible for counting the votes for Academy Award entries, and ensuring that the winners remain secret (and correct!) until the big reveal.
At this year’s ceremony, ‘Envelopegate‘ was caused because PWC’s Brian Cullinan handed Warren Beatty the incorrect envelope – for ‘Best Actress’, which had already been awarded, rather than ‘Best Picture’. Cullinan has not lost his position with PWC, but will no longer be a part of any future Oscars – but why was another PWC accountant also ‘fired’?
Cullinan’s colleague Martha Ruiz was also backstage when the mixup occurred, and although she did not personally handle the envelope in question, she, along with Cullinan was there to ensure the correct names were read, and to quickly step in if they weren’t. According to reports from others backstage, neither of the two reacted when the incorrect names were read, and hesitated to step in when urged to do so by those who realized what was happening. In fact, one of the stage managers said “I didn’t get on the headset and say, ‘Hey, producers, this is what’s happening. What do we do?’ We took our own initiative and got it done – and if we hadn’t done that, we could have been off the air before it was fixed. I’m proud of the way that we handled it, given the lack of response from PwC.”
PWC took full responsibility and apologized to everyone affected.
Read about the sequence of events here.