It was probably one of the most dramatic television moments – let alone Oscar moments – in history when at the 2017 ceremony La La Land was mistakenly awarded Moonlight’s Best Picture award. Ahead of this year’s ceremony, Pricewaterhouse Cooper, the accounting firm whose partners were responsible for the gaffe, are determined not to repeat history.
Last year Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were given the wrong envelope by PwC representative Brian Cullinan. Beatty seemed to hesitate after opening the envelope before Dunaway announced La La Land as the winners. Minutes of confusion followed as the organisers and celebrity presenters tried to rectify the mistake, before La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz eventually announced that Moonlight had actually won Best Picture winner, holding up the card to the cameras.
In the aftermath, it was announced that Cullinan had been fired. Tim Ryan, the U.S Chairman and Senior partner for PwC told Associated Press that Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, the other partner that night, remain with PwC but they will not return to the Oscars. The new partners who have the treasured, but now decidedly more stressful, role of sitting either side of the Dolby Theatre stage are Kimberly Bourdon and Rick Rosas. In addition to the replacement partners, an additional partner will sit in the control room with the Oscar’s producer and will have the list of winners committed to memory.
These are just two of the new rules and safeguards that the embarrassing mix-up, an Oscar first, prompted the PwC to create for this year’s ceremony and the foreseeable future. The accountants will also be prohibited from using mobile phones or social media throughout the ceremony. The flub was partly attributed to Cullinan’s distraction: he tweeted a photo of actress Emma Stone holding her Best Actress statue backstage minutes before handing Warren Beatty the Best Actress envelope instead of Best Picture. Celebrity presenters will also have to confirm with the stage manager that they have the correct envelope before they even approach the podium.
In the run-up to the ceremony, all three PwC representatives will attend rehearsals and practice what to do if a similar scenario happens. Ryan has also said he will be personally involved in making sure the event goes smoothly.
The Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday. The awards ceremony will be broadcast March 4th 2018.