PriceWaterhouseCoopers takes blame for Oscar gaffe

The accountancy firm apologised to everyone from Faye Dunaway to the viewers at home

PriceWaterhouseCoopers takes blame for Oscar gaffe

Martha L. Ruiz, left, and Brian Cullinan from PricewaterhouseCoopers arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles [Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP]

PriceWaterhouseCoopers is having a ‘mare.

For 83 of the 89 Academy Awards, the accountancy firm has been responsible for tallying the votes and stuffing the envelopes with the winner’s name. And barring the occasional headache of announcing a tie or the rumoured slip involving Marisa Tomei, they’ve done their duty admirably.

But not in 2017. After a professional and smoothly handled Oscar show by first-time presenter Jimmy Fallon, the biggest gaffe in Oscar history saw Warren Beatty walk onto the stage with the wrong envelope. Frowning and furrowing his brow in the ensuing confusion, Beatty’s Bonnie & Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway saw the card awarding Emma Stone her Oscar for La La Land, and called out that movie.

Taking the blame

It took PwC’s people a bizarrely long two minutes to spot the mistake, making way for an excruciatingly awkward, albeit classily handled, redirection by the producers of La La Land to the team behind Moonlight.

At the Academy’s behest, PwC hastily released a statement, taking full ownership of the blunder and offering their apologies to everyone involved:

“We sincerely apologise to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for ‘Best Picture’.

The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected.

We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.

We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”

The after-show reactions

At the Governors’ Ball, one of the major events that takes place after the awards ceremony every year, Moonlight producers and Oscar-winners Adele Romanski and Jeremy Kleiner, as well as director Barry Jenkins, all expressed their thanks to La La Land’s Jordan Horowitz, who called for them to take to the stage as the error came to light.

“It was chaos,” Horowitz said, describing the scene as Oscar-show producers in headsets made their way through the large La La Land crowd to alert them to the mistake.

Damien Chazelle, who earlier in the evening won ‘Best Director’ for La La Land (becoming the youngest in the awards’ history), made the unusual decision of not speaking to the press backstage, saying he did not feel comfortable.

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