New system unveiled to avoid epic La La Land Oscar envelope flub

Ben Arnold
Contributor

Other than James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s hosting in 2011, last year’s disastrous handing out of the wrong envelope for Best Picture was the Oscars’ lowest moment in its 88 year history.

You may recall the unique chaos when the stars and crew of La La Land took to the stage after Faye Dunaway called out the name of the movie as the winner in the Best Picture category.

But in fact, she and presenting partner Warren Beatty been give a duplicate envelope for the Best Actress category, which Emma Stone had already won for her role in the Damien Chazelle musical.

Seeing Emma Stone and La La Land on the card, Beatty looked clearly confused, before Dunaway read out the movie’s name.

After some frantic discussion on stage, the producer of La La Land Jordan Horowitz took the reigns and informed the crowd – and watching millions – that there’d been a terrible mistake, and in fact Moonlight had won Best Picture.

To avoid this happening again, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the accounting firm which has run the voting system for the past 83 years, has revealed that it’s put in place a six-step plan to avoid another disaster.

Tim Ryan told the Associated Press: “One of the most disappointing things to me was all the great work that had been done, not only last year but over the last 83 years, around accuracy, confidentiality integrity of that process.

“And where we got it wrong was on the handing over of the envelope.”

Among the changes will be a new procedure in which the celebrity presenter and the stage manager will confirm that the envelope is the right prior to going out on stage.

There will also be three ‘balloting partners’ from the company, rather than the previous two, who will attend rehearsals and be prepped and practiced in what to do if something goes wrong.

“As you’re well aware, it took a long time to respond last year when there was a mistake that we made,” Ryan added. “So we’re formally practicing the what-ifs.”

The gaffe last year was laid squarely on the shoulders of Matt Damon look-a-like and PwC partner Brian Cullinan, who was charged with handing out the envelopes, and had done so successfully for several years prior to the fateful blunder.

Cullinan came under scrutiny after it emerged he’d posted various pictures from backstage on Instagram and Twitter during the ceremony, tellingly including one of Emma Stone holding her award.

It was suggested that this could have been a reason that he’d taken his eye off the ball.

As such, another PwC employees will be prohibited from using mobile phones and social media during this year’s show.

“Our singular focus will be on the show and delivering the correct envelopes,” said Ryan.

The nominations for this year’s Oscars happen this afternoon, with the ceremony taking place on March 4.

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