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Academy Details New Steps to Avoid Another Oscars Fiasco

Variety logo Variety 3/29/2017 Gene Maddaus
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has revamped its procedures to avoid a repeat of the disastrous finale of this year’s Oscar ceremony.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, the Academy’s Board of Governors decided not to fire PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has taken responsibility for the envelope mishap that led to the wrong film being declared best picture.

Instead, the Academy and PwC outlined a detailed set of protocols intended to avoid a similar mistake in the future. In the past, two PwC accountants have been solely responsible for tabulating the votes and handing out the envelopes.

Beginning next year, PwC will station a third accountant in the control room. That accountant will know the winners in advance, and will be able to alert the show’s director in case of an error.

The Academy had already announced that the two PwC accountants who were backstage this year, Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, will not return. Cullinan was tweeting on his phone in the moments before he mistakenly handed presenter Warren Beatty the wrong envelope.

Starting next year, the Academy will ban electronic devices backstage. PwC will also bring back Rick Rosas, who was one of the two accountants in charge of balloting from 2002 through 2014. The Academy also said it would improve the identification of the categories on the awards envelopes.

PwC has handled Oscar balloting for 83 years, in addition to doing the Academy’s taxes and audits.

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