By Todd Peterson
Updated February 25, 2004 07:03 PM
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It could be a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie: Two men with information vital to the country’s economy are filmed as they careen along alternate routes down Los Angeles’s packed streets, ensuring that one of them makes it to the drop point on time.

Except this time, the information these men carry contains names of people and films — such as Sean Penn or Charlize Theron or Renee Zellweger or “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

It’s the very real scenario for Oscar accountants Rick Rosas and Greg Garrison, employees of the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is responsible for tabulating the nearly 6,000 votes for 2003’s best films and actors, Reuters reports.

Voting by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ended Tuesday night, at which time Rosas and Garrison locked themselves into a secret hotel room and began their count. They are the only people to know the results ahead of time.

It is not an easy task, admits Rosas. “In this town, which is not known for discretion, we’ve been able to keep the biggest secret in town,” he told Reuters. “That’s pretty amazing.”

On the night of the Academy Awards, every possible precaution is taken. The two men are each given identical sets of envelopes with the winners’ information, and each one takes a separate route to the show to avoid traffic jams or, they say, even a kidnapping attempt.

“We are shadowed by one of (the Los Angeles Police Department’s) finest,” Rosas said.

The 76th annual Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC Sunday from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.