PricewaterhouseCoopers says, “Last night we failed the Academy.”
It’s been less than 24 hours since the most notorious fubar in Oscar history — the mistaken announcement that La La Land had won best picture, when in fact the award was meant for Moonlight — and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCooper has now issued an unusual second apology, while the Academy is announcing that it will conduct an investigation of the way the tell-tale envelopes are handled at the Oscar ceremony while offering an apology of its own.
Going beyond the first statement of apology that was issued Sunday night, three hours after the Oscar broadcast ended, PwC on Monday sent out what it called a “revised statement” in which it squarely shoulders the blame for the incident, cites PwC partner Brian Cullinan for the mistake and offers another apology to all involved in the embarrassing drama that played out on national television.
“PwC takes full responsibility for the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols during last night’s Oscars,” the new statement says. “PwC partner Brian Cullinan mistakenly handed the back-up envelope for Actress in a Leading Role instead of the envelope for Best Picture to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr. Cullinan or his partner.”
Cullinan was one of two PwC partners charged with bringing the envelopes to the Dolby Theatre and then handing the appropriate envelope to each presenter as the various categories were called. In the wake of mix-up, it’s since been learned that Cullinan also was tweeting during the event and had tweeted a picture of best actress winner Emma Stone just minutes before he handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty.
The new PwC statement continues, “We are deeply sorry for the disappointment suffered by the cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight. We sincerely apologize to Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Jimmy Kimmel, ABC, and the Academy, none of whom was at fault for last night’s errors. We wish to extend our deepest gratitude to each of them for the graciousness they displayed during such a difficult moment. For the past 83 years, the Academy has entrusted PwC with the integrity of the awards process during the ceremony, and last night we failed the Academy.”
Meanwhile, the Academy posted a statement of its own on its Twitter account, saying, “We deeply regret the mistakes that were made during the presentation of the Best Picture category during last night’s Oscar ceremony. We apologize to the entire cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight whose experience was profoundly altered by this error. We salute the tremendous grace they displayed under the circumstances. To all involved — including our presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the filmmakers, and our fans watching worldwide — we apologize.”
The statement went on to say, “For the last 83 years, the Academy has entrusted PwC to handle the critical tabulation process, including the accurate delivery of results. PwC has taken full responsibility for the breaches of established protocols that took place during the ceremony. We have spent last night and today investigating the circumstances, and will determine what actions are appropriate going forward. We are unwaveringly committed to upholding the integrity of the Oscars and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.”
Academy spokesperson Teni Melidonian elaborated, “We’ve essentially launched a review of the entire process that happens backstage and the way PwC has been handling of the envelopes and how they are carried out at the ceremony.” She emphasized that the Academy’s concern was not about the way PwC conducts the nominating and voting process for the Oscars, but the way it oversees the revelation of the final results at the awards show. She said that process “would be looked at extensively to see what measures need to be evaluated or evolved or completely replaced.”
Feb. 27, 8:08 p.m.: Updated to include Academy statement.