PwC Accountants Involved in Oscar Fiasco Will Not Work on Show Again, Remain Partners at Firm
The two PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants involved with the Best Picture mix-up at the Oscars will not work the awards show again.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced on Wednesday the decision not to have the accountants — Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan — return to the ceremony, PEOPLE confirmed. The Associated Press was first to report the news.
“I can confirm they have been taken off the Academy Awards but they will still remain partners at the firm,” a spokesperson for PwC told PEOPLE.
Additionally, U.S. chairman and senior partner at PwC Tim Ryan has made himself available to the 54 members of the Academy’s board of governors in an effort to restore good faith, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The magazine also noted that Academy CEO Dawn Hudson has already offered to arrange individual meetings between governors board members and Ryan. The board will convene on March 28 in a meeting that could debate the future of PwC’s 83-year partnership with the Academy.
According to the New York Times, Ryan spent hours after the Oscars debriefing with Cullinan, Ruiz, Academy officials and the show’s producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd. “I spent the bulk of the night with Brian trying to understand what happened,” Ryan told the newspaper. “There wasn’t much in terms of parties last night.”
In a statement posted on Monday, the accounting firm blamed Cullinan for the incident, while noting his partner, Ruiz, also did not act quickly enough to correct the error. “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,” read the statement.
They added, “Once the error occurred, protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough by Mr. Cullinan or his partner.”
Cullinan was told not to use social media during the Oscars — despite tweeting a photo of Emma Stone just moments before handing Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway the wrong envelope for Best Picture, PEOPLE previously confirmed.
In the now-deleted tweet, Cullinan shared a photo of the Best Actress winner smiling while holding her award backstage. The time stamp shows it was posted at 9:05 p.m., only minutes before the Best Picture blunder occurred.
“Brian was asked not to tweet or use social media during the show,” a source told PEOPLE. “He was fine to tweet before he arrived at the red carpet but once he was under the auspices of the Oscar night job, that was to be his only focus.”
The source continued, “Tweeting right before the Best Picture category was announced was not something that should have happened.” The source added that it’s unclear whether the Academy will end its 83-year relationship with the accounting firm after the mix-up.
“The Academy has launched a full-scale review of its relationship with PwC but it is very complicated,” the source said. “Vote-tallying and the Oscar night job is just one part of what PwC does with the Academy. It is too early to say how this will play out but everyone is of course taking it very very seriously.
Cullinan has not publicly commented or posted on his Twitter account since the blunder, although his PwC partner Martha Ruiz shared a selfie from the red carpet with Cullinan and Michael Strahan after the accounting firm took responsibility for the error.
Cullinan and Ruiz were the representatives from PwC tasked with figuring out the Oscar winners and bringing the sealed envelopes containing the well-guarded secrets to the awards show. Two PwC staffers previously told MarketWatch that for security, there are “two briefcases, that are identical, and we have two entire sets of winning envelopes.”
During the show, the two take their places on opposite sides of the stage, handing presenters their cards (depending on which side they enter from).
Ahead of the show, both Ruiz and Cullinan seemed assured that no mistake of that kind would be made.
Cullinan told The Huffington Post before the ceremony that if a wrong winner were to be called, “We would make sure that the correct person was known very quickly. Whether that entails stopping the show, us walking onstage, us signaling to the stage manager — that’s really a game-time decision, if something like that were to happen. ”
He added, “Again, it’s so unlikely.”