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Oscars Academy reviewing its ties with PwC after ‘Moonlight’ gaffe

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-03-2017 Anousha Sakoui

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, responding to the botched handling of the Best Picture Oscar, is reviewing its relationship with accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and said two of the firm’s partners won’t be invited back next year.

The Academy permanently removed Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz from any of its dealings, the group confirmed in an email. The news was first reported by the Associated Press.

PwC, which has audited the awards since 1934, has apologized for a mix-up at the end of Sunday night’s awards ceremony that caused presenter Faye Dunaway to name La La Land the winner of Best Picture instead of the rightful recipient, Moonlight. The error in front of a televised audience of almost 33 million was a blow to the reputation of PwC, one of the biggest global accounting firms, which had heavily promoted its role as safekeeper of the award winners.

Cullinan gave the wrong envelope to Dunaway and her co-presenter, Warren Beatty, PwC said. He and Ruiz also didn’t follow the proper protocols to correct the mistake quickly enough, the firm said.

Photos showing Cullinan holding a phone and two envelopes in the same hand just before the flub were published by Variety on Wednesday. Cullinan had been tweeting backstage, including posting a photo of actress Emma Stone after receiving an Oscar, minutes before Beatty and Dunaway walked onstage with the wrong envelope, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cullinan and Ruiz “will no longer be working on the Academy engagement but they will remain partners at the firm,” said Megan DiSciullo, a spokeswoman for PwC.

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