2 accountants in Oscars envelope mix-up won’t be back

Audience reacts to "Moonlight" being announced as best picture winner at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. –Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

In the wake of the spectacular best-picture snafu at Sunday’s night Oscars, the fallout has begun.

The two PwC accountants involved in the envelope mix-up that saw the producers from “La La Land” accepting the best picture award before everyone realized it belonged to “Moonlight” will not be working at the Oscars again, according to a spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

One of the accountants, Brian Cullinan, a partner at PwC, had handed Warren Beatty the incorrect envelope moments before the actor went onstage with Faye Dunaway to present the best picture Oscar. Martha L. Ruiz, the other PwC accountant who worked the awards with Cullinan, will also not be returning, the academy said.


Cullinan had mistakenly given Beatty a duplicate envelope for best actress, which had just gone to Emma Stone for “La La Land.” After Beatty read that envelope’s contents, he showed it in confusion to Dunaway, who saw the words “La La Land” and triumphantly announced it the winner, creating what has been widely described as the most outrageous mistake in modern Oscars history.

After the accountants realized the error, they scrambled onstage with the ceremony’s stage manager to retrieve the wrong envelope and open the right one, revealing that “Moonlight” had pulled off an upset. In those chaotic moments, fingers immediately pointed to Beatty as the culprit; on Tuesday, he issued a statement deflecting questions and asking that Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the academy president, clarify what happened.

Cullinan, bedecked in a tuxedo, has been an Oscars red-carpet staple in recent years, showing up at the ceremony with a locked briefcase that contained the winners’ envelopes.

“We’ve done this a few times, and we prepare a lot,” he told reporters shortly before the Academy Awards began Sunday night. In 2014, he started as a PwC “co-balloting leader,” in academy parlance; Ruiz joined him the next year.

The academy spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a query about whether PwC would stay on as the academy’s accountant; PwC, formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, has counted Oscar votes for the past 83 years.