Oscars Will No Longer Work With PwC Accountants Involved in Best Picture Flub

Brian Cullinan

The two PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants responsible for the epic best picture flub at Sunday night’s Oscars will not be invited back by the Academy, the organization’s president Cheryl Boone Issacs told the Associated Press on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the firm confirmed that the two accountants will not participate in future shows.

Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz were the two members of the firm tasked with safeguarding the envelopes with the winners names on them. However, a mix-up by Cullinan resulted in presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway being given the best actress envelope instead of the one announcing that “Moonlight” had won best picture. Dunaway mistakenly announced that “La La Land” had won the top prize.


best picture flub Brian Cullinan

New Photos Show PWC Accountant Tweeting, Mixing Envelopes Backstage at Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

Cullinan has drawn media attention and scrutiny because he was tweeting from backstage minutes before handing Beatty the wrong envelope. A PwC spokesperson said both Cullinan and Ruiz are still partners in the firm.

Boone Issacs and the non-profit organization have been slow to respond to the fallout, waiting a full day to issue a public apology.  They waited more than 48 hours to apologize for another mess-up, one that saw the group include a picture of a still-living producer in its in memoriam segment.

Boone Issacs told the AP that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the full name of the group behind the Oscars, is reviewing its ties to PwC.

Spokespeople for PwC and the Academy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In an earlier interview with the New Yorker, Boone Issacs said that the thought that went through her mind when the best picture mistake was made was “horror.”

“I looked out and I saw a member of Pricewaterhouse coming on the stage, and I was, like, Oh, no, what—what’s happening?” said Boone Issacs. “What what WHAT? What could possibly . . . ? And then I just thought, Oh, my God, how does this happen? How. Does. This. Happen.”

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  1. Joseph Aksamit Jr says:

    Why would you keep the company that caused such a big mishap? And it’s not the first time this has happened with that incompetent company. You must be getting kick backs, but that is just my opinion.

  2. Dee says:

    Also, why didn’t Warren Beatty just say, “I have the wrong envelope”? He looked at the card a few times – did he expect the words to magically change on them?
    Just say, “I have the wrong card.” Jeez.

  3. Dee says:

    What did Martha Ruiz do that was wrong? The guy was tweeting and smoozing (sp?) but what did SHE do?

  4. drush76 says:

    It was one stupid mistake. One mistake. Considering how dull the Oscars usually is, at least there is something to be talked about for the next number of year. Everyone needs to calm down.

    • There’s a mistake made in good faith and then there’s a mistake made because someone preferred to perform a personal gratification at the key and critical moment i.e. tweeting or running to craft services for one more sliver of cheesecake.

  5. Ron says:

    Both displayed a lack of competence. One was specifically told not to tweet but did so anyway. No sympathy for either of them. No sympathy for PwC

  6. Judith says:

    Why is the Latina woman being punished for the white man’s mistake. I am sure if it had been the other way around he would not be removed.

    • timgray2013 says:

      They were both in the wrong. The two PwC people had memorized the winners in advance. And they had been given instructions that if anyone ever read a wrong name, they should stop the proceedings within two seconds, just by calling “time out” until it was clarified. Instead, they talked with each other for almost three minutes backstage, letting three “La La Land” producers give acceptance speeches, before the show was stopped. The man caused the error, but people backstage said both the PwC people were frozen while everyone else was left to straighten out the mess.

      • Completely wrong. There is no “two seconds” rule which would be impossible. You can’t call “time out” as the music plays, and the crowd claps, the “winners” come up as the announcer announces. This happens automatically and there’s no magic button they can press to stop this train from rolling. The only thing you can do is tell the stage manager it’s wrong….which they did…which is why you saw them on stage as the La La Land people were coming to the microphone. Why Ruiz is fired when she informed them of the other persons error is beyond me.

      • timgray2013 says:

        There is no two-second rule. But that was their goal — i.e. ASAP. If one of the told the stage manager immediately, he could have announced it and at least prevented the acceptance speeches. Instead, backstage people report that the PwC duo froze, then talked to each other. A delay of nearly three minutes is an eternity in a situation like that.

  7. Bog Frank says:

    So why is Martha Ruiz being replaced?

  8. Why Was There Even Second Envelope?????

    • timgray2013 says:

      In theory, it’s a safety measure. (Yes, that’s ironic.) There are two PwC people, and each has a set of envelopes. They take separate routes to the theater, to ensure that at least one will arrive. They sit on opposite sides of the stage, so each has a copy of the winners. The two have also memorized the winners. Presenters come from different sides of the stage, so the two PwC people take turns. After the woman handed the best actress envelope to Leonardo DiCaprio, the PwC man should have destroyed his copy. I’m sure the accountants for the Academy will be rethinking this procedure. — Tim Gray

  9. It’s not that simple. They are partners at PwH, not simply employees.

  10. ron flett says:

    So why hasn’t the dillhole who was told NOT to be fiddling with his telephone, but did it anyway, not been fired?

    • Marcus says:

      Oh puhleeze. give it a break will ya. I’m sure that ” dillhole” did not build his professional career and rise to become a managing partner in PwC by handing out envelopes for television shows.

      He talks to Fortune 500 CEOs and CFOs daily.

      How about you? what did you ever become managing partner of?

  11. The guy who mixed up the envelope only had to really pay attention for the three and half hours of the live broadcast and he could not even do that.

  12. Ben says:

    If you are looking for Oscar speeches for a moral uplift our direction for our country is really in a whole lot of trouble

  13. Ben says:

    This much drama, and the Oscars are almost completely irrelevant.

  14. Lois Campbell says:

    OK, people.. let’s get some perspective here. The world didn’t come to end and NOBODY died!
    Mistakes happen… that’s why pencils have erasers…..Geesh!!

  15. P.Alward says:

    Off with their heads! Hollywood get over yourself and get over it. A mistake .. a big mistake was made and was actually handled with extraordinary grace, kindness and respect. That was beautiful!!….and will be remembered for years.I can’t imagine being so horrified as some seem to be. Guess what nobody died! They all get to get in their luxury cars and zoom into the Hollywood sunset. Pretty shallow.

    • gloria monti says:

      what will *not* be remembered for years is that the producers of *moonlights* were robbed of the opportunity to make important speeches about race and sexual orientation. i am certainly not getting over *that.*

      • Marco says:

        ‘Robbed’? You make it sounds if it was a concerted effort on the part of whitey to marginalise the black and LGBT community.

        Of course it’s a shame that the producers of the brilliant Moonlight didn’t get the opportunity to give their speeches (although that could have been easily remedied by allowing the broadcast to go on a few minutes longer), but how do you even know that the filmmakers’ speeches were going to make any explicit references to race and orientation?

        This strikes me as another attempt to beat-up on the PriceWaterhouseCooper accountants who are no doubt still highly embarrassed and ashamed of their error, and yet another example of how many so-called liberals are becoming every bit as vindictive and mean-spirited as conservatives, in this instance by baying for the blood of Cullinan and Ruiz, and suggesting that their honest and simple mistake is contributing to the systematic oppression of the black and gay community.

  16. Tyler says:

    I love when people who claim to hate Hollywood post all over entertainment new sites.

  17. John Chapman says:

    Award shows are no place for starstruck accountants and only professional producers should be in charge of the winning envelopes marked clearly in large letters Film, Male/Female Actor, Director etc.

  18. Mark says:

    At least hollywood knows how to run the country.

  19. Jim Bob says:

    Typical Hollywood sycophant mesmerized by a group of phonies and script-readers.

  20. One mistake in 83 years…on the other hand, thgis isw the same company that settled $5.5 billion in fraud charges in the biggest bank failure in American history.

  21. Wayne says:

    This shows just how full of themselves that Hollywood is. It was a embarrassing mistake, but not the end of the world like it’s being betrayed by Hollywood. I can’t believe that a company that has been so reliable and trusted by the Academy forever, would have people banned and be discussing firing the company altogether. Come back down to earth, Hollywood, and join the real world. Focus on movies instead of your own agendas and egos. Until then, they’re are lots of great movies that were made in the past before Hollywood started making movies for themselves instead of for us.

    • Actually the opposite is true. Hollywood is basically now run by big studios that…instead of making movies for “them” (for art) they make movies mostly for “us” (the same formulaic repeats of action, explosion, shoot em up) that the average idiot wants to see. Studios are in it for the money, which is why you barely see those popular movies at the Oscars..you see the ones studios didn’t make a lot of money with.

      I can’t believe that you can’t believe that if someone makes a colossal error they wouldn’t be relieved of duty. But…how does this show that Hollywood is “full of themselves”? How is it being “betrayed by Hollywood” (that doesn’t even make sense.)

  22. James says:

    I think it’s unfair that co-worker Martha Riuz is punished for Cullinan’s failure ! She had nothing to do with it. What kind of message does this send, Academy ?

    Cullinan behaved like a starstruck teenager: How could he be so irresponsible to tweet and take pictures while he was handing out the envelopes ? Everybody who drives a car knows how dangerous this sh*t is, because you make mistakes when you don’t focus 100% on one thing.

    And he was paid a lot of money to do this rather easy job.

    I can’t believe that this incompetent man is still working for PWC…I certainly will never buy their services EVER.

  23. Gayle Blum says:

    As irresponsible and stupid as the accountants were it’s Beatty who I think behaved the worst. He knew something was wrong and he was so dumb to keep going…he could have been a hero instead he was an idiot, which I think he is.

    • Irving says:

      The idiot was high maintenance Dunaway, who didn’t recognize Beatty’s puzzlement. She’s the one who half glanced at the card and blurted the wrong name.

  24. bpeschel says:

    Martha Ruiz was shafted for someone else’s mistake. Typical business decision.

    And I love the commenters here justifying incompetence, almost as if they were wanting an excuse to behave the same way. True, no one died, except PWC’s credibility and Brian Cullinan’s reputation as a schmart guy. But he gets to go on and draw his big paycheck and retire on a six- or seven-figure pension, because when you’re a partner, you’re protected.

    Anyone who wasn’t a partner at PWC would have been called into the office the next day, told he had one job, and it’s wasn’t to ogle Emma Stone and be unceremoniously fired.

  25. Jonny says:

    Big freaking deal…it was a boring show made exciting at the end by this whole mess up.

  26. Cameron says:

    I doubt your editors have “one a top prize” in a while. Might need to proofread rather than just spellcheck.

  27. headshake says:

    Had “ONE” the top prize? Come on… at least try and proofread.

  28. questioning says:

    why is she being punshied for his mistake?

  29. Michael Anthony says:

    The commentators below need to get a life. A mistake was made by one person. No one died, no one injured. Embarrassing? Yes, but wanting people fired? Please. Everyone makes mistakes, this just happened to be public. But days of attention and gnashing of teeth? Get over it.

    • Tiffany Turner says:

      That’s the first thing I thought to. I heard accountant(S) and went to check to see if I heard that right. I bet if she was a man, she’d be free of all responsibility because it would be understood she was on the other side of the stage. WHY would she get blamed for a mistake that was clearly NOT hers?

  30. holycoconut says:

    Totally unfair for Martha Ruiz. She did exactly what she was supposed. Her partner caused the problem and she has to share the punishment?!

  31. knight yabut says:

    I wonder what their marketing team is going to do!

  32. Michael Christie says:

    What exactly was the rehearsal day for if not to prepare the presenters for a mix-up with the envelopes? Lousy preparation by the Academy. Ruiz supposedly knew who won Best Picture, where was she during those lost 21/2 – 3 minutes? She wasn’t exactly on her toes either.

  33. Mel says:

    One little mistake!!!!

    • Tiffany Turner says:

      It takes a while to stop a show and make a correction. The word had to come down that it was incorrect from someone. Who is to say it wasn’t her? I’m sure Cullinan was still on his phone.

    • Michael Christie says:

      Watching Mel with his child bride on the red carpet was the only thing on the night creepier than those tourists with their cellphones and selfie sticks.

  34. Faye Kannews says:

    Why is Ruiz getting dumped? – She didn’t do anything wrong by all reports.
    The headline is misleading. It seems to mean PWC got dumped, but when you get past the headline you see that PWC is actually staying, and just the two in photo are getting univited back.

    Poor woman. – Very Lame. – She is innocent by all accounts.
    The fact that I am reading this some three days after the event is even lamer. Boone-Isaacs is looking worse & worse everyday this drags on without a definitive closing act.

  35. shelbyknox says:

    Numerous reports have come out about Cullinan tweeting when he wasn’t supposed to be, but it’s also been noted that he was the one who gave the incorrect envelope, and that Martha Ruiz was on the opposite side of the stage.

    It seems innapropriate to punish Ruiz if her only crime was having an incompetent partner on the opposite side of the stage. Far too many women face this type of situation in the work world, and the Academy needn’t repeat it just to prove they are upset about the mistake.

    • Marco says:

      Why fire anyone? This is not an earth-shattering mistake. And it’s vindictive and mean-spirited to desire that anyone should lose their job over this.

  36. michael says:

    Why is Ruiz being thrown under the bus? She had nothing to do with the screw-up.

    Also, will Variety drop the proofreader who let through “one the first prize”? :)

    • cadavra says:

      Actually, she’s not blameless. She knew immediately that the wrong picture was announced, but she waited two full minutes before running onstage to correct it. It wouldn’t have affected the original mistake, but it would have spared the LLL people the humiliation of giving acceptance speeches that had to be effectively rescinded.

      • Tiramisu says:

        Michele, the guy with the mic (Natoli) told in detail what happened. They had specific plans in the case of a wrong name. It was never acted upon. Cullinan, after 1 minute and 15 seconds from Dunaway reading the wrong name, tells someone that Dunaway read the wrong name. After that the production crew instantly checks with Ruiz. She’s on the other side even more frozen than Cullinan. They find and open the envelope there and verify it’s Moonlight. They ask the two to get on stage. They’re reluctant. Then they’re pretty much pushed to the stage. Natoli still handles pretty much everything even on the stage.

      • cadavra says:

        Wrong. That is EXACTLY her job. Anybody can hand someone an envelope. The accountants are there in case something like this goes south and needs to be rectified immediately. She froze like a deer in the headlights, so the head stage manager had to go onstage and sort things out. And that’s not HIS job.

      • Michele says:

        She can’t just run on stage in the middle of a production. I’m sure she reported it and it went through the channels. It takes time to communicate that through the dozens of people running the show, verify and then intervene. We just didn’t see that played out. However, it would have been nice for Boone Isaacs to explain the process of what happened to everyone. If Ruiz didn’t back him up and just stood there, then that may be why she’s included. Again, more explanation from Boone Isaacs would put it to rest.

      • timgray2013 says:

        Totally agree.

  37. Hobart says:

    “…I was, like, Oh, no, what—what’s happening?” said Boone Issacs. “What what WHAT? What could possibly . . . ? And then I just thought, Oh, my God, how does this happen? How. Does. This. Happen.”

    Pathetic. She repeated the exact same phrase when Trump was announced President elect.

  38. SPIKE says:


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