Bosses of the Oscars are to launch an official investigation over what happened on Sunday night’s ceremony, after an envelope blunder led presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to announce the wrong winner for Best Picture.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy firm which coordinates the voting and prize-giving logistics, has taken the unusual step of issuing a second apology, detailing who was to blame for the blunder.
“PwC takes full responsibility for the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols during last night’s Oscars,” the new statement reads.
“PwC partner Brian Cullinan mistakenly handed the back-up envelope for Actress in a Leading Role instead of the envelope for Best Picture to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
“Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr. Cullinan or his partner.”
Brian Cullinan is the 57-year-old executive of the company who is often dubbed a ‘Matt Damon look-a-like’, and has been behind – in increasingly in front of – the scenes at the Oscars for the past four years.
— Brian Cullinan (@briancullinan_) February 29, 2016
On the night, he often posts pictures of himself, and his PwC partner Martha Ruiz, with a wealth of stars.
He describes himself on his Twitter profile as ‘Counting Oscar ballots & keeping secrets, @Cornell Alum, Skier, Harley rider, Board Member, @Patriots Fan.’
Great night for Alicia Vikander – Best Supporting Actress in The Danish Girl! pic.twitter.com/9sSFi50IsS
— Brian Cullinan (@briancullinan_) March 1, 2016
— Brian Cullinan (@briancullinan_) March 3, 2016
— Brian Cullinan (@briancullinan_) February 24, 2017
He’s also often interviewed about his role tallying the votes for the Academy Awards, a job PwC has done since the 1940s.
Remarkably, he even discussed the unlikelihood of anything going wrong on the night immediately before Sunday night’s ceremony with the Huffington Post, saying that a mistake has never been made in the 88 year history of the awards.
“We would make sure that the correct person was known very quickly,” he said.
“Whether that entails stopping the show, us walking onstage, us signaling to the stage manager – that’s really a game-time decision, if something like that were to happen. Again, it’s so unlikely.”
But on Sunday night, he was seen looking considerably less jovial than on his Twitter feed, as the confusion between who had won out of ‘La La Land’ and ‘Moonlight’ was eventually resolved for the rather confused audience by ‘La La Land’ producer Jordan Horowitz, who called the ‘Moonlight’ crew onto the stage to collect what was rightfully theirs.
The PwC statement went on: “We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the Best Picture category during last night’s Oscar ceremony.
“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.”
Whether Mr. Cullinan will be back on Oscar detail for the 2018 awards is not yet known.
A spokesperson for the Academy said: “We’ve essentially launched a review of the entire process that happens backstage and the way PwC has been handling of the envelopes and how they are carried out at the ceremony.”
She added that the process ‘would be looked at extensively to see what measures need to be evaluated or evolved or completely replaced’.