Third accountant, banned cellphone use backstage among steps taken to avoid another major mix-up
Academy Awards organizers have instituted a series of measures to prevent the mishap that marred the Best Picture presentation during the 2017 Oscars from happening again.
Following the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ meeting Tuesday, the board of governors outlined numerous safeguards, including the addition of a third balloting official in the control room during broadcasts and a ban on PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants using electronic devices during the ceremony, the Hollywood Reporter writes.
Following the now-infamous Oscar night gaffe – where Warren Beatty was handed a Best Actress envelope for the Best Picture presentation, resulting in a mix up between La La Land (Emma Stone won Best Actress) and the actual winner, Moonlight – Oscars organizers revealed they would retain accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers’ services.
However, the firm issued a statement to confirm that the two accountants in charge of the Oscar envelopes that night, Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan, would not return for future ceremonies. It was Cullinan whose “human error” is blamed for handing Beatty the wrong envelope, with the accountant’s rampant social media use cited as a factor in distracting him during the Oscars.
The Hollywood Reporter added that Cullinan, whose social media activity was previously known to organizers, was told to abstain from backstage cellphone usage at the 2017 ceremony, but he “disobeyed” orders.
With the addition of a third balloting official in the control room, organizers hope to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to catch an error if it should occur; in the case of the 2017 Oscars, the La La Land cast and crew had already took the stage and began delving into their acceptance speeches before the gaffe was uncovered.
Oscars organizers will also routinely review the accounting firm’s protocols to avoid another much-publicized disaster.