Here's How the Oscars Plan to Avoid Another Envelopegate This Year
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Tim Ryan told The Associated Press that the company spent the past year developing new protocols and safeguards to prevent potential mishaps.
“One of the most disappointing things to me was all the great work that had been done, not only last year but over the last 83 years, around accuracy, confidentiality integrity of that process,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “And where we got it wrong was on the handing over of the envelope.”
The agency and its two accountants, Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, were responsible for the fiasco that saw presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly name La La Land the Best Picture winner on stage at the 89th Oscars after Cullinan accidentally handed them the envelope for Emma Stone’s Best Actress award, rather than Moonlight‘s winning card.
Despite the mistake, Boone Isaacs said the Academy board decided to continue its partnership with the agency that has been counting ballots for the Oscars since 1934 — with some major changes.
Along with having two balloting partners stationed on either side of the stage during the ceremony, a third partner will sit with Oscar producers in the show’s control room. This person will not only have their own copies of the envelopes being handed out, but they will also have the list of winners memorized. This way, should anything go wrong, they can act quickly.
“Because, as you’re well aware, it took a long time to respond last year when there was a mistake that we made,” said Ryan. “So, we’re formally practicing the what-ifs.”
Ryan said all three balloting partners will also attend rehearsals.
“Think of it as a safety control,” he said.
And while Cullinan and Ruiz have been taken off the Oscars, they are still employed by PwC.
After the snafu, photos emerged showing Cullinan on his phone just minutes before handing over the wrong envelope, despite being given strict instructions not to use social media during the ceremony.
This year, cellphones will be strictly prohibited.
“Our singular focus will be on the show and delivering the correct envelopes,” Ryan said.
Ryan said he is confident that this year’s ceremony will go off without a hitch.
“My nature, just as a person, is healthy paranoia. But I also know in my head that we haven’t left any step undone. We owe that to the Academy,” he said. “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.”
The 2018 Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4 and will be televised live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.