If you thought the producers of La La Land were having a rough day on Sunday, consider the plight of Brian Cullinan. What started as an opportunity to don a tux, show off a briefcase stashed with top-secret Oscar intel, and maybe rub shoulder with a few movie stars ended in the PricewaterhouseCoopers partner being blamed for the incident now known as #OscarGate.
Yesterday, PwC issued an apology for accidentally giving Oscars presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope, which resulted in the stars wrongly announcing La La Land, and not Moonlight, as Best Picture. A new statement issued by the accounting firm, which oversees Oscar voting, places the blame squarely on the shoulders of Cullinan and his colleague, Martha Ruiz. Can't be fun to be those two right now.
“PwC takes full responsibility for the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols during last night’s Oscars," the statement, shared on Twitter, reads. "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.
"We are deeply sorry for the disappointment suffered by the cast and crew of La La Land and Moonlight," PwC continued. “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.”
A PwC executive told Variety that Cullinan feels "horrible" about the mix-up, which occurred when he handed Beatty an envelope from the wrong pile.
"He feels very, very terrible and horrible," Tim Ryan, PwC U.S. chairman and senior partner, said. "He is very upset about this mistake. And as a firm, given that he is a partner of our firm, it is also my mistake and our mistake and we all feel very bad.”
Ryan added that Ruiz instantly realized the error when Dunaway announced La La Land, and she and Cullinan immediately alerted the Oscars production team. It's unclear why it took more than two minutes for the real winner, Moonlight, to be announced onstage.