Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan, the two PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants responsible for safeguarding the winning envelopes at this year’s Academy Awards, will never return to work the Oscars ceremony according to Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who broke her silence on Wednesday in an interview with the Associated Press.
Cullinan was responsible for the gaffe that led to La La Land being declared the initial winner of Best Picture instead of actual victor Moonlight. He was busy tweeting photos of newly-crowned Best Actress winner Emma Stone, which distracted him from his job. That led him to hand the back-up envelope for Best Actress to Warren Beatty, who presented Best Picture with his Bonnie and Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway.
It’s unclear why Ruiz is being held responsible for Cullinan’s mistake, as there’s no evidence that she did anything but her job.
Sure, she could’ve stepped in to get the fracas under control sooner, but that responsibility was really up to the producers of the Oscars telecast and the stage managers working under them, so it strikes me as more than a bit unfair. Believe me, I know what it’s like to be blamed for something you didn’t do.
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Though Ruiz seems to be guilty simply by association, the Academy may have felt it had no choice. With this outcome, Cullinan and Ruiz get to keep their jobs at PwC, and the accounting firm gets to keep the Academy as its client — at least for now.
It’s probably the right call, as even Cullinan didn’t deserve to be fired and lose his salary and benefits for a silly mental lapse. Instead, he and Ruiz will get to watch next year’s ceremony from the comfort of their living rooms, where there’s far less pressure to pay attention.
PwC’s U.S. chairman Tim Ryan attended the Oscars on Sunday night and rather than party the night away after the show, he told the New York Times he spent hours meeting with Cullinan, Ruiz, Academy officials and the telecast’s producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd as everyone tried to figure out what happened.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ryan has remained in Los Angeles this week in attempt to meet with individual members of the Academy’s 54-person board of governors in an effort to preserve PwC’s 83-year-old relationship with the organization. The Academy, for its part, says it is currently is reviewing its relationship with PwC in advance of the next full-board meeting on March 28.
In other news, the Academy finally got around to issuing a public apology for its In Memoriam mix-up that saw (still living) producer Jan Chapman’s photo used in place of her late friend, costumer designer Janet Patterson. The organization took to Instagram of all places to announce its mea culpa.
“We sincerely apologize to producer Jan Chapman, whose photo was mistakenly used in the Oscars ‘In Memoriam’ tribute for her colleague and dear friend, the late Janet Patterson. Janet, an Academy member and four-time Oscar-nominated costume designer, was beloved in our community. We extend our deepest apologies and condolences to the Patterson family.”
We sincerely apologize to producer Jan Chapman, whose photo was mistakenly used in the Oscars “In Memoriam” tribute for her colleague and dear friend, the late Janet Patterson. Janet, an Academy member and four-time Oscar-nominated costume designer, was beloved in our community. We extend our deepest apologies and condolences to the Patterson family. Please see our updated “In Memoriam” video tribute (http://osca.rs/TributeVideo17) and online gallery (http:/:osca.rs/InMemoriam2017) on Oscar.com.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief