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Oscar ballots take tourist route

Mail mixup delays delivery

NEW YORK — A funny thing happened on the way to the Oscars.

As the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline for submitting ballots loomed, some New York members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences learned they had inadvertently mailed their best foreign language film votes to the wrong address.

The Academy had instructed its Gotham members to mail ballots to its accountant Pricewaterhouse Coopers at 1251 Ave. of the Americas. Oscar voters who used ordinary mail did not know that their ballots were being forwarded to the accounting firm’s new address at 1301 Ave. of the Americas.

But some Academy members who sent their ballots by Federal Express received phone calls Monday and Tuesday informing them that their envelopes could not be delivered. Unlike the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Express and other overnight mail services do not automatically forward mail. But FedEx asks senders to write their phone number on the mailing label so they can be notified when a package cannot be delivered.

After the Los Angeles and New York Academy offices received complaints from its members, Pricewaterhouse stationed an employee at 1251 Ave. of the Americas to intercept any deliveries by messenger or from overnight mail companies on Tuesday afternoon.

“We have a procedure to get mail to the right building,” said Pricewaterhouse partner Greg Garrison. “Those procedures are working for all our clients, and they’re working for the Academy as well.”

Although Garrison acknowledged that the delivery of Oscar ballots to Pricewaterhouse could have been delayed, he said that the accounting firm has an agreement with Federal Express to forward mail addressed to 1251 Ave. of the Americas to the accounting firm’s new address down the street.

In any event, each Academy member received a numbered ballot, making it easy for Pricewaterhouse to determine if one has been lost or intercepted.

“We know who got the ballots, and we’ll know if we get them back,” said the Academy’s director of communications, John Pavlik. “It’s going to work out.”

Garrison said that Pricewaterhouse would use the day that ballots were mailed, not the day they were delivered, to determine whether the voting deadline had been met.

Both Pavlik and Garrison declined to reveal the number of Academy voters affected by the snafu.

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