Embattled accountants booted from Oscars

The fallout from the historic Oscars 2017 flub is starting to spread: The two accountants involved won't be coming back to work the Academy Awards, says film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Boone Isaacs told the Associated Press Wednesday that the two staffers from PricewaterhouseCoopers will never return to the Oscars show. She blamed one of them for being distracted by tweeting during the show.

Academy spokeswoman Teni Melidonian confirmed the AP report to USA TODAY but had no further comment.

RELATED: PricewaterhouseCoopers on Oscar flub: 'We made a human error'

Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, both high-ranking officials at the firm known as the "Tiffany" of accountancy, were working Sunday night when Cullinan gave the wrong winner envelope to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, resulting in the mistaken announcement of La La Land as best picture instead of the true winner, Moonlight.

It took two minutes and 30 seconds before the error was corrected because of a delayed response by the two accountants and failure to follow their own protocol quickly, according to PwC's public apologies issued after the debacle.

But will PwC continue to tabulate the Oscar votes for the academy, as it has done since 1934? Boone Isaacs told AP the academy's relationship with PwC remains under review.

PwC spokeswoman Mao-Lin Shen also confirmed the AP report and added that both Cullinan and Ruiz are still partners with the firm.

Meanwhile, in Barcelona for a meeting, PWC global chairman Bob Moritz told CNBC that he watched the disaster unfold on TV like so many millions, and in the days since he has made "working with the academy to repair the relationship" among his top priorities.

Boone Isaacs broke her silence Wednesday following the biggest blunder in the 89-year history of the Academy Awards.

Cullinan has taken the most heat for the mistake, and it hasn't helped that he was tweeting backstage during the show, including a photo of best actress winner Emma Stone that he posted minutes before handing the wrong envelope to Beatty. Neither Cullinan nor Beatty noticed that the envelope said "Best actress" instead of "Best picture."

PWC rep was told not to tweet during Oscars
Although Cullinan and PwC have said his tweeting did not distract him (the tweets were later deleted), the suspicion that it did has spread in Hollywood. Variety reported Wednesday it had obtained new photos that show Cullinan engaged on his phone backstage and also holding two of the red winners envelopes.

On Tuesday, USA TODAY learned Cullinan was told ahead of time about media protocol for the day, according to a person familiar with the situation but unauthorized to speak publicly about it. Cullinan was permitted to tweet up until he arrived to the red carpet — say, getting into the car with his secure briefcase filled with 24 envelopes — but once on site, he was supposed to refrain from social media until the broadcast ended.

Meanwhile, the academy apologized for another mistake during the show that was overshadowed by the best-picture snafu: the use of a very-much-alive Australian movie producer's picture during the In Memoriam segment.

 

 

In a statement on Instagram, the academy extended "our deepest apologies" to producer Jan Chapman, whose photo was mistakenly used in the tribute instead of Chapman's colleague and friend, the late Janet Patterson. Chapman had said she was "devastated" by the error. The academy directed viewers to an updated video tribute.

 

 

 

 

USA Today


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