New rules to avoid mix-up at Oscars

NEW YORK •Determined to avoid a repeat of the stunning Oscar Best Picture mix-up last year, new rules have been adopted by PwC, the accounting firm that tabulates votes for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The changes, which were first reported on Monday by The Associated Press and have been confirmed by the academy and PwC, include having presenters ensure, before going onstage, that they have the correct envelope in hand. This will be confirmed beforehand by stage managers too.

Last year, one of the two PwC representatives attending the Oscars mistakenly handed Warren Beatty, who was presenting Best Picture with Faye Dunaway, the back-up envelope for Best Actress, which had moments earlier gone to Emma Stone for La La Land.

After Beatty opened the envelope onstage, he hesitated, and Dunaway, thinking he was monkeying around, ended up reading out La La Land. In fact, Moonlight had won, but long moments passed before the correct winner was revealed.

Last year's PwC accountants Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz have been replaced by Mr Rick Rosas, a long-time PwC accountant who handled the Oscar envelopes for 14 years, and his colleague, Ms Kimberly Bourdon. Both Cullinan and Ruiz still work at PwC.

A third PwC accountant, who will also have memorised the winners' list, will sit in the control room with the producers of the show.

All three accountants will also attend rehearsals and practise what to do if there is another mistake.

Perhaps the most drastic change of all: The PwC accountants will not be allowed to use their cellphones or be on social media during the ceremony. Last year, just before handing Beatty the wrong envelope, Mr Cullinan tweeted a photo of a jubilant Stone.

Oscar nominations were announced yesterday. The ceremony will be held on March 4.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2018, with the headline 'New rules to avoid mix-up at Oscars'. Print Edition | Subscribe