The Oscars’ plan to avoid another wrong envelope fiasco in 2018

By ARIEL SCOTTI | New York Daily News | Published: February 5, 2018

There are going to be far fewer phones backstage at this year’s Oscars.

When Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty incorrectly announced that “La La Land” was the Best Picture winner at the 2017 Academy Awards, only to be told moments later that “Moonlight,” in fact, was the actual winner, everyone from the star-studded audience in the theater to the millions of viewers at home were shocked and confused. But this year PricewaterhouseCoopers - the accounting firm tasked with Oscars envelope security for 83 years - is instituting a few new rules to ensure it doesn’t happen again.


The two PwC partners responsible for the envelope fiasco at last year’s awards ceremony - Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz - have not been invited back, the Associated Press reported. Instead, Rick Rosas, who was previously in charge of the envelopes for 14 years, will be back at it. And Tim Ryan, PwC’s senior partner and U.S. chairman, will be on-site himself to oversee the evening.

“My nature, just as a person, is healthy paranoia,” Ryan told the AP.


All PwC staff behind the scenes at the 90th annual Academy Awards have been banned from using their phones and all forms of social media. It’s believed that last year Cullinan was distracted from his job when he took a picture of Emma Stone and posted it to his Twitter account at about the same time he was handing off the wrong envelope for Best Picture.


Typically, one PwC partner is on each side of the Oscar’s stage but this year, there will be a third in the show’s control room with producers - just in case. Each partner will have a copy of every envelope and a memorized list of winners. They’ll be present at rehearsals and will take part in their own drills in the event of another disastrous moment.

“As you’re well aware, it took a long time to respond last year when there was a mistake that we made,” Ryan told the AP. “So we’re formally practicing the what-if’s.”


The presenters will be involved in PwC’s attention to detail this year. Before they walk out onto the stage, the presenters and the stage manager will each confirm that they’re holding the correct envelope. At the 2017 awards, Beatty and Dunaway were handed a duplicate Best Actress envelope that read, “Emma Stone, ’La La Land,’” instead of “Moonlight.”

“I know in my head that we haven’t left any step undone,” Ryan said. “We owe that to the Academy. While I feel very, very good about all the work that’s been done and the attention to detail that’s in place, our job doesn’t end until that curtain closes.”

© 2018 New York Daily News

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