Don’t blame Warren Beatty or Faye Dunaway for that Best Picture snafu. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm in charge of vote counting, have ‘fessed up to the screw-up.
Brian Cullinan, the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ accountant responsible for handing the envelopes containing the winners’ names to presenters during the Oscars ceremony, is taking the blame for the mix-up.
Beatty was supposed to have been handed the Best Picture envelope, but was instead handed the envelope for Best Actress, which was won earlier in the night by Emma Stone.
Stone would later dispute this, noting that she was holding the envelope containing her name the entire time. But there are two copies of each envelope (one for either side of the stage, so that the presenters can enter from either side), and it was the spare Best Actress envelope that Beatty was handed by Cullinan.
Cullinan appeared to have had the Best Actress on the brain — just minutes before handing Beatty the wrong envelope, he tweeted a picture of Emma Stone backstage. (The tweet has since been deleted, but the screencaps will live forever.)
Upon opening the envelope listing ‘Emma Stone, La La Land‘ as the winner of Best Picture, a confused Beatty froze, unsure of what to do. He showed Faye Dunaway the card, and she then declared La La Land the winner while a bemused Beatty looked on.
Beatty wasn't bullshitting. He was desperately looking for another card. He got handed the wrong envelope. pic.twitter.com/Efu8sICf8Y
— Hershal (@hershal) February 27, 2017
While the cast and crew of La La Land celebrate, Beatty can be heard saying, “But it says ‘Emma Stone’…”
Can you hear a voice at the end of this clip say "It says Emma Stone"? pic.twitter.com/ayfJGqla6I
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) February 27, 2017
Cullinan and PricewaterhouseCoopers colleague Martha Ruiz, the only two people in the building who know the winners ahead of the ceremony, then realised Beatty had been given the wrong envelope, and got word to the stage manager.
After multiple people involved with La La Land began to give acceptance speeches, the error was acknowledged and La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz presented the award to Moonlight, as seen in the clip above.
Today, PricewaterhouseCoopers has issued a statement acknowledging its error.
“We sincerely apologise to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for best picture,” the statement says.
“The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.
“We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers has been responsible for counting the votes and handing envelopes to presenters for the past 83 years. For the last major error like this, you have to go all the way back to 1964, when Sammy Davis Jr was handed the wrong envelope when presenting the award for Best Musical Score.
We’re guessing it’s going to be a rough day at the office for Brian Cullinan…